Insurance that doesn't insure

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Bone up on the law to avoid being taken advantage of by experts

By Merilee Dannemann

We New Mexicans dearly love to take advantage of one another’s ignorance. It’s how many of us make a living.
Title insurance, for example.  You are required to purchase title insurance when you buy a house. Since you probably buy a house once or twice in your lifetime, it’s understandable that you are not an expert on the legalities.
You’re probably relying on your real estate agent and the other professionals who are supposed to be acting in your interest.  
You may have thought that you were buying an insurance policy that would, well, insure you.
As it turns out, not exactly. And you didn’t focus much on the cost of the insurance, because it was just another thousand or two, rolled into the biggest purchase of your life.
Title insurance, you thought, would ensure that your title would be unencumbered by liens, lawsuits, or restrictions hidden in the history of the property.
So when it was reported in 2002 that a title company had missed such a restriction on a property in Santa Fe, and that the owner could not build the planned two-story office project because of a height restriction, but the title insurance company had no liability for its error and the owner had to take the loss, I thought, am I the only one noticing that this is nuts?

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