Lost Your Title Policy? Three Places to Search for It

We often don't think about old paperwork until we need it. When it's not where you left it, it's easy to get nervous. But don't panic over your owner's title insurance policy if you can't find it, getting a copy of this important paperwork usually isn't that hard. Here are three places to start your search.

1. Contact the Title Agent

If you can't find your title insurance policy, start your search with the contact who handled the transaction. In most cases, this is your title agent, or in some cases, this point of contact may be your real estate attorney. If the transaction was fairly recent, there's a chance your title agent or lawyer may still have your policy paperwork on file. For older title insurance policies, however, this is less likely. But even if your title agent doesn't have your paperwork, they will likely be able to help you with your next step: contacting the title insurer.

2. Contact the Title Insurer

If you don't have your policy on hand, it might be a bit difficult to follow its instructions for contacting the insurer. Thankfully, your agent should be able to tell you how to request a copy of your lost title policy. This is usually done by making a call and giving your name and basic contact information. However, there are times when title insurers themselves may also have trouble locating older policies. In very rare circumstances, an inexperienced or undertrained title agent may have failed to properly issue the final owner's policy. But don't worry. The large amount of closing paperwork generated from your home purchase comes to the rescue. Paperwork such as your copy of the HUD-1 Settlement Statement, ALTA Statement, and Closing Disclosure can serve as proof of receipt for your lost title policy. That's because these documents include an itemized list of all the third parties that rendered services and received payment at closing. Many title insurers will also ask if you have the title search preliminary report or title insurance commitment document. These files can help some firms locate your policy and provide a copy faster.

3. Contact the Lender

There's always the case that, for whatever reason, a homeowner no longer has any of the paperwork associated with their closing. This still isn't a total lost cause, at least as far as your title policy is concerned. If you can't find your Settlement Statement, Closing Disclosure, or other documents, contact your lender. Your lender can help you obtain a copy of your title policy, even when, after years, you don't remember the name of your title insurance company. That's because your lender will have the lender's title insurance policy bought when the loan was issued. While owner's policies are optional, all mortgaged home purchases require a lender's policy, so your lender can be a good resource in your document search. Lenders also usually keep a copy of your closing form on hand. Usually, borrowers can obtain copies of both documents from the lender.

With these documents, you'll go back to the title insurer to finish the process of obtaining a copy of your lost policy.

What to Do With Your New Copy

If you're hunting for your title insurance policy, there's probably a reason. Usually, it's because you're selling your home or buying a new home and trying to qualify for a reissue rate discount. Finding your paperwork may only be the start of a new housing transaction with a deluge of new important documents. When your transaction is complete, you probably don't want to go through this search again. So make sure to store your documents securely. Digital storage options are catching on, but remember you may need to store these documents securely for a couple of decades. The best option may still be the simplest: a locking filing cabinet or safety deposit box.