Fintech is coming for the title industry

California gives first approval to tech-focused title insurance company

States Title CEO Max Simkoff and Los Angeles (Credit: iStock and LinkedIn)
States Title CEO Max Simkoff and Los Angeles (Credit: iStock and LinkedIn)

The $15 billion title insurance industry has major innovation coming its way.

A regulator in California announced on Tuesday that it had approved States Title Inc., a startup title insurer focused on tech, to operate in the state, according to Bloomberg. Dave Jones, the state’s insurance commissioner, said new technology and more competition would help lower costs for consumers.

The industry has historically been dominated by four companies: Fidelity National, First American, Old Republic and Stewart Information Services Corporation. Fidelity agreed to buy Stewart for $1.2 billion earlier this year.

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But tech has started to play a larger role in the industry. The startup company Spruce recently raised $15.6 million, and Daniel Price’s OneTitle launched in 2014. OneTitle focuses on issuing policies, while Spruce focuses on acting as title agents.

Firms in New York are currently in the middle of a court battle with the state over strict new regulations the Department of Finance recently imposed on the industry.

The Real Deal published a ranking of New York’s most active title insurance companies in July. First American was No. 1, followed by Fidelity and Chicago Title Insurance.

Price previously told TRD that he thinks title insurance “is at a major inflection point. This is an industry that has seen perilously little innovation for more than a century.” [Bloomberg] – Eddie Small