Good time for title insurance reform

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By Jay Miller

SANTA FE – Are New Mexico homeowners getting the shaft on their title insurance? The 2009 Legislature is again being asked to consider the possibility.

Last year, legislation to reform the industry got sidetracked and delayed. This year’s possibilities look better.

New Mexico Public Regulation Commission Chairman Ben Ray Lujan was the leading advocate of the legislation last year. Now that Lujan is a member of Congress, his father, New Mexico House Speaker Ben Lujan, is championing the legislation.

The PRC no longer is on board with the reform. Lujan Jr. was replaced by Jerome Block Jr., who worked for a title insurance company before winning the $90,000 a year PRC post.

But having the House speaker as chief sponsor doesn’t hurt at all. The bill has sailed through the House and has time to get through the Senate.

This year’s bill also is a compromise fashioned by Lujan, the title industry and Think New Mexico, the reform’s major consumer advocate.

Attorney General Gary King also is participating in the title insurance battle. His focus is on the practice in which title agents market their insurance to realtors and loan agents rather than to consumers.

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