First National Title Insurance Company (FNTI) policies have been reinsured by syndicates of Lloyds of London since last year when we became members of the American Title Reinsurance Alliance (ATRA). This alliance allows us to issue policies up to $10 million. More importantly, it gives our agents, clients, and lenders a level of confidence and comfort knowing that FNTI’s high-liability policies are backed by the strength and stability of Lloyds of London. The success of this program, together with changes in the market place, has allowed our industry a means to expand the level of liability the industry can insure. This is a positive trend for our whole industry. We anticipate an increase in our limits in 2016 and will keep you posted when the agreements are finalized.
As we developed our relationship with the Lloyds syndicates, it became apparent that they wanted to know more about First National Title. ATRA set up meetings for all the members to personally visit the syndicates at Lloyds of London last month. I spent two days meeting with representatives of the underwriters reinsuring the ATRA group and gave each of them a detailed explanation of FNTI’s controls, processes, and plans for the future.
During one of the lunch breaks, I was given a short Lloyds history lesson and tour of its new building. I was also told where the term “underwriter” originated. According to company lore, it all began in 1688 in the window of Edward Lloyd’s coffee house. As ships departed to destinations around the globe, the name of the ship and the cargo was posted on the window. Various investors would review the details of these journeys and “write their names under” the ships they were willing to insure. Hence—an insurance underwriter. I also learned about the significance of the bell tower shown in the photos. If a ship returned safely, the bell was rung twice. If the ship failed to return, the bell tolled only once, signaling a loss. I was told that it would not be a good idea to ring the bell to “try it out.”
As First National Title continues to grow revenues and our agent base, it is important that we have a solution for the agents that need to insure large residential and commercial transactions. Having a relationship with Lloyds of London, through our ATRA group, provides us that solution. Please look for our announcement early next year about exciting changes to our reinsurance program.