High mortgage rates, economic uncertainty and low housing inventory did very little to help title premium volume during the first quarter of 2023. In the first three months of the year, the title industry generated $3.37 billion in title insurance premiums, down 43% year over year, according to the American Land Title Association’s Market Share Analysis, released Thursday.
Compared to a year prior, total operating income was down 71.6%. However, the trade group noted that the industry remains in a strong financial position, with total assets coming in at nearly $11.7 billion, while the statutory surplus was $5.2 billion and the statutory reserves were $5.9 billion.
In addition to lower premium volume, the industry also paid out $162.7 million in claims, up from $132.5 million in the first quarter of 2022.
The five states with the largest title premium volumes during the first quarter of the year were Texas ($522.896 million), Florida ($421.968 million), California ($238.769 million), New York ($213.157 million), and Pennsylvania ($133.286 million). The same five states held the top spots in 2022.
All five states recorded year-over-year decreases in title premiums in Q1 2023, with California recording the largest yearly drop at 49.2%, and Florida recording the smallest annual drop at 39.5%.
Top underwriters for the quarter by market share included First American Title insurance Co. with 23.0%; Old Republic National Title Insurance Co. with 15.5%; Fidelity National Title Insurance with 12.7%; Chicago Title Insurance Co. with 12.4%; and Stewart Title Guaranty Co. with 9.6%.
However, it should be noted that Chicago Title is part of Fidelity. With 25.1% of the market, it was again the largest company by share of premiums written during the first quarter of 2023.
In 2022, First American’s market share was 22.1%, while Old Republic’s was 15.8%, Fidelity’s was 27% and Stewart’s was 8.9%. Stewart has been looking to reclaim some of the title premium it lost in recent years. The firm’s market share was 10.62% as recently as 2019.
Rounding out the top 10 for Q1 2023 were Westcor Land Title Insurance Co. with 3.7% of the market, putting it in sixth place. Commonwealth Land Title Insurance Co. had 3.3%, Title Resources Guaranty Co. had 2.9%, WFG National Title Insurance Co. had 2.4% of the market share, and Doma Title had 2.0%.
Although the “Big Four” still command the overwhelming majority of the market with a combined market share of 73.2%, their collective grip is not what it once was. In 2019, independent title underwriters such as Westcor, WFG, and others had a combined market share just shy of 15%, which increased to 26.8% in Q1 2023.