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48.29.150  <<  48.29.155 >>   48.29.160

RCW 48.29.155

Agent license — Financial responsibility — Definitions.

(1) At the time of filing an application for a title insurance agent license, or any renewal or reinstatement of a title insurance agent license, the applicant shall provide satisfactory evidence to the commissioner of having obtained the following as evidence of financial responsibility:

     (a) A fidelity bond or fidelity insurance providing coverage in the aggregate amount of two hundred thousand dollars with a deductible no greater than ten thousand dollars covering the applicant and each corporate officer, partner, escrow officer, and employee of the applicant conducting the business of an escrow agent as defined in RCW 18.44.011 and exempt from licensing under RCW 18.44.021(6), or a guarantee from a licensed title insurance company as authorized by subsection (5) of this section; and

     (b) A surety bond in the amount of ten thousand dollars executed by the applicant as obligor and by a surety company authorized, or eligible under chapter 48.15 RCW, to do a surety business in this state as surety, or some other security approved by the commissioner, unless the fidelity bond or fidelity insurance obtained by the licensee to satisfy the requirement in (a) of this subsection does not have a deductible. The bond shall run to the state of Washington as obligee, and shall run to the benefit of the state and any person or persons who suffer loss by reason of the applicant's or its employee's violation of this chapter. The bond shall be conditioned that the obligor as licensee will faithfully conform to and abide by this chapter and all rules adopted under this chapter, and shall reimburse all persons who suffer loss by reason of a violation of this chapter or rules adopted under this chapter. The bond shall be continuous and may be canceled by the surety upon the surety giving written notice to the commissioner of its intent to cancel the bond. The cancellation shall be effective thirty days after the notice is received by the commissioner. Whether or not the bond is renewed, continued, reinstated, reissued, or otherwise extended, replaced, or modified, including increases or decreases in the penal sum, it shall be considered one continuous obligation, and the surety upon the bond shall not be liable in an aggregate amount exceeding the penal sum set forth on the face of the bond. In no event shall the penal sum, or any portion thereof, at two or more points in time be added together in determining the surety's liability. The bond is not liable for any penalties imposed on the licensee, including but not limited to any increased damages or attorneys' fees, or both, awarded under RCW 19.86.090.

     (2) For the purposes of this section, a "fidelity bond" means a primary commercial blanket bond or its equivalent satisfactory to the commissioner and written by an insurer authorized, or eligible under chapter 48.15 RCW, to transact this line of business in the state of Washington. The bond shall provide fidelity coverage for any fraudulent or dishonest acts committed by any one or more of the employees, officers, or owners as defined in the bond, acting alone or in collusion with others. The bond shall be for the sole benefit of the title insurance agent and under no circumstances whatsoever shall the bonding company be liable under the bond to any other party. The bond shall name the title insurance agent as obligee and shall protect the obligee against the loss of money or other real or personal property belonging to the obligee, or in which the obligee has a pecuniary interest, or for which the obligee is legally liable or held by the obligee in any capacity, whether the obligee is legally liable therefor or not. The bond may be canceled by the insurer upon delivery of thirty days' written notice to the commissioner and to the title insurance agent.

     (3) For the purposes of this section, "fidelity insurance" means employee dishonesty insurance or its equivalent satisfactory to the commissioner and written by an insurer authorized, or eligible under chapter 48.15 RCW, to transact this line of business in the state of Washington. The insurance shall provide coverage for any fraudulent or dishonest acts committed by any one or more of the employees, officers, or owners as defined in the policy of insurance, acting alone or in collusion with others. The insurance shall be for the sole benefit of the title insurance agent and under no circumstances whatsoever shall the insurance company be liable under the insurance to any other party. The insurance shall name the title insurance agent as the named insured and shall protect the named insured against the loss of money or other real or personal property belonging to the named insured, or in which the named insured has a pecuniary interest, or for which the named insured is legally liable or held by the named insured in any capacity, whether the named insured is legally liable therefor or not. The insurance coverage may be canceled by the insurer upon delivery of thirty days' written notice to the commissioner and to the title insurance agent.

     (4) The fidelity bond or fidelity insurance, and the surety bond or other form of security approved by the commissioner, shall be kept in full force and effect as a condition precedent to the title insurance agent's authority to transact business in this state, and the title insurance agent shall supply the commissioner with satisfactory evidence thereof upon request.

     (5) A title insurance company authorized to do business in Washington under RCW 48.05.030 may provide a guarantee in a form satisfactory to the commissioner accepting financial responsibility, up to the aggregate amount of two hundred thousand dollars, for any fraudulent or dishonest acts committed by any one or more of the employees, officers, or owners of a title insurance agent that is appointed as the title insurance company's agent. A title insurance company providing a guarantee as permitted under this subsection may only do so on behalf of its properly appointed title insurance agents. If the title insurance agent is an agent for two or more title insurance companies, any liability under the guarantee shall be borne by the title insurance company for those escrows for which a title insurance commitment or policy was issued on behalf of that title insurance company. If no commitment or policy was issued regarding the escrow for which moneys were lost, including but not limited to collection escrows, each title insurance company, for which the agent was appointed at the time of the fraudulent or dishonest act, shares in the liability. The liability will be shared proportionally, as follows: The premium the agent remitted to the title insurance company in the year prior to the fraudulent or dishonest act will be compared to the total premium the agent remitted to all title insurance companies, for whom the title insurance agent was appointed, during the same period.

     (6) All title insurance agents licensed on or before July 24, 2005, shall comply with this section within thirty days following July 24, 2005.

[2005 c 115 § 1; 2003 c 202 § 1.]