To help answer any questions you may have about Stewart Title’s regulatory status and financial strength, we have compiled answers to a number of frequently asked questions we have received from you and seen posted on third-party forums:
Yes, Stewart Title is registered with ASIC as a foreign company under Chapter 5B.2 of the Corporations Act 2001 (Cth) (Corporations Act). This is a legitimate and widely used corporate structure for branches of businesses incorporated in a foreign jurisdiction.
Stewart Title is also subject to regulatory oversight by ASIC because the title insurance policies issued by Stewart Title are “financial products” as defined under the Australian Securities and Investments Commission Act 2001 and are also subject to the Insurance Contracts Act 1984. ASIC is responsible for regulatory oversight and supervision of the consumer protection measures under these Acts.
No, only general insurers who provide certain ‘retail’ services to customers are required to hold an AFSL. Examples of ‘retail’ insurance products include: travel insurance, motor vehicle insurance, home contents insurance and sickness and accident insurance.
As title insurance is not a ‘retail’ insurance product, Stewart Title does not require an AFSL. Stewart Title is an APRA regulated general insurance business. Despite this exemption, Stewart Title has voluntarily adopted robust consumer protection and dispute resolution measures to ensure it maintains effective consumer protection in line with community, regulatory and industry expectations.
Consumer protection and ensuring that customer complaints are dealt with appropriately is a high priority for Stewart Title. Accordingly, we have implemented the following:
Yes, as an APRA-authorised general insurer, Stewart Title is required to meet minimum financial requirements to ensure that it has the financial strength to pay claims. Our financial strength is also affirmed by the independent financial analysis firm A.M. Best which gave Stewart Title Limited a rating of A-, recognising our financial strength and ability to pay claims.
The Stewart group of companies globally is renowned for its comprehensive protection and financial strength. Founded in 1893, Stewart Title stands proudly as one of the largest title insurance companies in the world.
Our parent company has one of the largest policyholders’ surpluses in the industry, and on a consolidated company basis, the lowest debt-to-equity ratio of the four major title insurance companies. This means that we have the capacity to grow our business and remain financially strong.
In addition to our consumers guides mentioned above, Stewart Title provides other educational material to help explain title insurance to buyers and owners such as sample policies, brochures, examples of claims, key facts sheets and website content.