Any homeowners learning about identity theft and real estate fraud may well wonder if or how the ownership of their property is fully protected by title insurance. Not to be confused with property insurance (protecting tangibles and related liabilities), title insurance policies can protect both the buyer and lender from unexpected challenges to the property purchase and later claims against ownership, thereby assuring their investments are secure. However, although mandatory in many jurisdictions, title insurance has not always been commonplace everywhere.

Historically, a title search – not title insurance – was considered adequate to facilitate a property sale by identifying potential encumbrances such as overdue taxes, unpaid debts, or contested ownership. But a search was only a safety check and did not offer any security or compensation in the event of claims or fraud. That meant an owner would not be protected against mortgage fraud, or an inheritance claim against the previous vendor. That’s why, in more recent years, title insurance has become commonplace. It keeps the new owner and lender covered. So, if you have owned your home for some time, especially if you have not changed lenders, you probably should check your records to confirm you have title insurance.