Typically the real property interests insured are fee simple ownership or a mortgage. However, title insurance can be purchased to ensure any interest in real property, including an easement, lease or life estate. Just as lenders require fire insurance and other types of insurance coverage to protect their investment, nearly all institutional lenders also require title insurance to protect their interest in the collateral of loans secured by real estate. Some mortgage lenders, especially non-institutional lenders, may not require title insurance.
Title insurance is available in many other countries, such as Canada, Australia, United Kingdom, Northern Ireland, Mexico, New Zealand, Japan, China, Korea and throughout Europe. However, while a substantial number of properties located in these countries are insured by US title insurers, they do not constitute a significant share of the real estate transactions in those countries. They also do not constitute a large share of US title insurers’ revenues. In many cases, these are properties to be used for commercial purposes by US companies doing business abroad, or properties financed by US lenders. The US companies involved buy title insurance to obtain the security of a US insurer backing up the evidence of title that they receive from the other country’s land registration system, and payment of legal defense costs if the title is challenged.