The Independent Title Agent Survival Guide – Part 2, Underwriter Edition

The Independent Title Agent Survival Guide – Part 2, Underwriter Edition

I’ve been told I tend to oversimplify things. Perhaps, but experience has taught me that underneath all that complexity there is almost always something quite simple.

As an independent title agency owner, your business will spend more on Underwriter remittances than on any other single entity. Who you choose to write with makes a big difference.

Choosing your underwriter(s) involves careful consideration of multiple factors. It’s a decision which appears complicated but can actually be quite simple. When I last ran a multi-state agency and had to choose who to write with, I started off the underwriter selection process with the assumption that the splits would be commercially reasonable and underwriting would be practical and responsive. Maybe I’m old fashioned, but what mattered to me had to do with a very simple premise: If I’m helping feed your kids, you’d better be helping me feed mine. In other words, for the relationship to survive and thrive it had to have an element of reciprocity.


Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.”

~ Helen Keller

An underwriter can help a title agency in many ways. These include great underwriting support, essential reference materials, efficiency advice, business referrals, helping lower expenses, and more.

We’re in tough times now. We all know it won’t last forever, but in the meanwhile, prudence dictates taking a close look at who you underwrite with. Wouldn’t it be great if the people your business gives the most money to also found a way to contribute to your success? After all, your interests are fully aligned.

With that in mind, I asked a few underwriters to explain their value proposition to independent agents.

Intentionally unedited answers from WFG, ATGF and Stewart (thank you Pat, Eric and Tara!) below:

WFG ( Founder and Executive Chairman Patrick Stone:

We have invested significantly to establish successful partnerships with our agents, focusing on helping them by removing costs, converting fixed costs to variable costs, and supporting their marketing and sales efforts. At WFG, we rely on independent agents to represent us in 42 states, and we view them as partners for mutual success.

Two key programs that foster genuine partnerships are WFG BLOCKS and Sales University.

BLOCKS is a division aimed at reducing costs, improving efficiency, and delivering value to customers. It offers solutions such as title and settlement services, expense management, information security, HR and business operations support, compliance solutions, and marketing and sales resources. BLOCKS allows independent agents to offload non-marketing functions, reducing costs for everyone involved.

Sales University is an online program designed to help agents increase client engagement and improve sales. It offers classes on researching and targeting prospects, crafting compelling messages, overcoming objections, and building new business relationships.

 Sales training focuses on the following:

  1. Researching and targeting top prospects, understanding their pain points, and crafting resonating messages.
  2. Creating messages that highlight your company’s unique value proposition and differentiate you in the marketplace.
  3. Overcoming objections and cultivating new business relationships.

While we have other initiatives related to partnering with agents, these two programs are particularly resonating in the current market. 

Attorneys Title Guaranty Fund ( President Eric Morgan:

During a down market, small underwriters play a crucial role in supporting independent title agents, especially small and mid-sized agents.  Attorneys Title Guaranty Fund, Inc. (ATGF) specializes in partnering with agents that have modest volumes in these tough times.  We provide personal and responsive underwriting support, offering expertise and guidance on difficult files to help our agents navigate complex situations. Additionally, we offer flexibility by having no remittance minimums, easing the financial burden for agents during these challenging times.  ATGF goes a step further by providing free proprietary title production software (EPIC), empowering agents with an efficient, cost-effective tool to that eliminates the cost of title production software from their bottom lines.    Our comprehensive support system ensures that independent title agents can weather the storm of a down market while still delivering exceptional service to their clients.

Stewart Title Guaranty Company (, President, Agency Division Tara Smith:

In today’s challenging market, Stewart strives to help our agents strategically enhance their businesses and take advantage of the adversity. By both providing tools and resources and by sharing our industry insights and expertise, we help our customers navigate and adapt to market uncertainties. Over the last three years, we have made significant investments in technology and capabilities to create greater connectivity, productivity, and risk reduction for our agents. Specifically, we have: 

  • Improved our agents’ experience and ease-of-use by deploying enhanced integrations with 14 title production systems for CPL and jackets, thereby streamlining agent workflows.
  • Expanded search and exam capabilities to 40 states, provided nationally through ASK Services, a Stewart company. This enables agents to shift title production from a fixed to a variable cost while outsourcing risk.
  • Created customized solutions within Stewart Agency to support the unique needs of our commercial agents and law firm customers.
  • Developed the industry-leading education platform, Stewart Academy (launching Q3 2023), to provide training opportunities, including CE/CLE courses.

We also recognize that supporting our diverse agents can’t be a one-size-fits-all approach and promises from underwriters to “help you grow your business” are equally prevalent and empty. Our goal is to understand our client’s strategy, challenges and objectives so that we can leverage Stewart’s resources for their success. We’ve seen unique value created in a variety of ways – here are a few recent highlights: helping an agent explore exit strategies and supporting them in executing a tailored successor planning/mentorship plan, analyzing market data and identifying new revenue sources for an agent including evaluating a JV opportunity, providing transparency regarding success with leveraging escrow deposits with lenders, and tailoring a market specific sales training to equip our agent to capture new RE broker/agent business.

We believe that by closely collaborating with our agents and offering personalized support, Stewart enables our customers to adapt strategies and position themselves for success when the market rebounds.

Some see the current environment as a survival challenge while others see this time as an opportunity to lay a better foundation for the inevitable upswing of the future. I think it’s both. It makes sense to ensure you are working with an underwriter(s) who can help you both survive and thrive. You can and should be choosy about who you write with.

The right underwriter(s) should be your partner and not a vendor.

Choose wisely.


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