New Attorney E & O Exclusion Exposes Lender Closing Table Risk in Massachusetts

May 3, 2019

We have noticed that in Massachusetts, insurance carriers providing attorney errors and omissions coverage have been quietly adding a new exclusion to their new and renewal policies.  This exclusion is known as the “Disbursement of Funds” exclusion, and it creates enhanced risk for lenders in that state in the event an attorney fails to properly disburse funds.  Any “negligence” in this regard will not be covered as it had been traditionally in the past.

The exclusion reads as follows:

“The following acts are EXCLUDED from coverage under this policy: the disbursement or transfer of funds related to (a) the deposit of a counterfeit check or a check with insufficient funds; (b) the lack of a written verification from the issuing bank that the funds are available and valid, (c) a fraudulent scheme, or (d) the failure of any funds reaching the proper party or the intended recipient, for any reason.”

In a discussion with a Massachusetts agent we learned that some insurers are doing this because (i) the cost of wire fraud is becoming unbearable for them and (ii) they want to push attorneys to pay for cyber liability coverage which would help cover some (but not all) of the risk now being excluded.  Cyber coverage is not mandated for attorneys in Massachusetts.

The problem for lenders is that this new exclusion means that there is NO COVERAGE they can attach for reimbursement for a claim where an attorney disburses funds before a deposited check clears (which occurs far too often) or where an attorney fails to follow the closing instructions and disburses the proceeds to the wrong party or in the wrong amount.  Although these acts/omissions rise to the level of negligence, with this new exclusion there will be no coverage.

At Secure Insight we are encouraging attorneys in Massachusetts whom we monitor to acquire cyber liability coverage and also to certify to the adoption of internal policies and practices avoiding the risks inherent in the excluded matters.

As always, it is critical to keep abreast of all changes in all matters which may affect your mortgage lending business.  At Secure Insight we are watching for you, 24-7, 365 days a year to help prevent losses from title and closing fraud.

Stay vigilant and stay clear of fraud!

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