Real Estate

Understanding Title Insurance in Canada: What You Need to Know

Understanding Title Insurance in Canada: What You Need to Know
Written by
  • Ashley Howard
| 8 September 2023
Reviewed, 18 September 2023

Table of contents

    When you embark on the journey of buying a home in Canada, you’ll encounter various costs and expenses. One of those costs that shouldn’t be overlooked is title insurance, a form of insurance that protects your ownership rights and provides coverage against potential risks related to the property’s title. 

    In this post, we will explore what title insurance is, what it covers, how it works, and whether it’s worth the investment. By the end, you’ll have a clear understanding of title insurance and be equipped with the information you need to know to protect your property.

    Key Takeaways

    • Title insurance protects homeowners and lenders from problems with the legal title of the property. 
    • Title insurance is a one-time addition to your closing costs that protects you as long as you, or in many cases, your heirs, own the property. 
    • While not mandatory in Canada, obtaining title insurance to protect your property is highly recommended and may be a requirement to arrange a mortgage with most lenders.

    What is Title Insurance?

    Title insurance is a specialized form of insurance that safeguards homeowners against losses arising from problems with the legal title of a property. It provides protection for as long as you or your heirs own the property, offering coverage for a wide range of risks that could impact your ownership rights and ability to enjoy and use your property.

    Unlike home insurance, which covers physical elements and personal belongings, title insurance focuses on the legal aspects of property ownership. It helps mitigate risks associated with the title, such as fraud, easements, encroachments, title defects, unpaid liens, and other title-related issues that may affect your ability to sell, mortgage, or lease the property.

    Title insurance is usually purchased when you buy your home, though it can be purchased anytime if you find yourself without title insurance. You are only required to pay the premium once when you purchase the insurance, and it will cover you for as long as you own the home. 

    What Title Insurance Covers

    Title insurance covers various risks and issues related to the property’s title. Here are the key areas that title insurance typically covers:

    Title Fraud or Forgery

    Title insurance protects you against the risk of title fraud or forgery. Fraudsters can attempt to steal your identity, forge documents, or sell your property without your knowledge. If you become a victim of title fraud, title insurance can cover the legal costs associated with resolving the dispute and re-establishing your ownership rights to the property.

    Encroachment or Survey Disputes

    In the event of encroachment or survey disputes, title insurance can offer protection in the event of a dispute. Encroachment occurs when a structure or improvement on a neighbouring property extends onto your property. With title insurance, you can be covered for the costs of resolving such disputes and ensuring your property boundaries are respected.

    Unknown Title Defects

    Title insurance provides coverage for unknown title defects that could prevent you from having clear ownership of the property. These defects may include errors in public records, incorrect or fraudulent deeds, or undisclosed liens that may affect your legal rights as a property owner.

    Liens and Outstanding Debts

    Title insurance guards against the risk of liens against the property, such as unpaid property taxes or outstanding debts. If there are any undiscovered liens or financial obligations related to the property’s title, title insurance can help protect you from potential financial losses.

    Other Title-Related Issues

    Title insurance also covers a range of other title-related issues that may impact your ability to sell the property in the future. This can include easement issues, zoning violations, unpermitted work by previous owners, and other matters affecting your ownership rights or the property’s marketability.

    It’s important to note that title insurance does not cover environmental issues, known title defects at the time of purchase, indigenous land claims, issues discovered through new surveys or inspections, property additions or changes made by the homeowner, or anything that doesn’t exist in the public record. Review your specific policy for coverage details to understand its terms and exclusions.

    How Title Insurance Works

    Title insurance is usually purchased during the closing process, although obtaining it after you’ve already become a homeowner is possible. The cost of title insurance is a one-time premium payment, which varies based on the property’s value and the province where it is located.

    When you purchase a title insurance policy, it provides coverage for past events and risks that existed before you acquired the property. In the event of a covered claim, you can file a claim with your title insurance provider, who will assist in resolving the issue and cover the associated costs up to the policy’s coverage limit.

    It’s important to understand that title insurance does not cover the costs of lawsuits initiated by the policyholder. Instead, it primarily focuses on defending your ownership rights against claims brought against you. Reviewing your policy and consulting with your legal professional is advisable to ensure you understand the coverage and terms.

    Who Needs Title Insurance?

    While title insurance is technically optional in Canada, it is highly recommended for all homeowners and may be required by your lender when arranging a mortgage. Whether you’re a first-time homebuyer or a seasoned property owner, title insurance provides valuable protection against potential risks and uncertainties related to the property’s title.

    Title insurance offers peace of mind, knowing that you have financial protection in the event of title fraud, encroachments, or other title-related issues that may arise. It is particularly beneficial for homeowners who wish to safeguard their investment, protect their ownership rights, and ensure a smooth and secure real estate transaction.

    Types of Properties Covered by Title Insurance

    Title insurance is available for various types of properties in Canada. Whether you own a house, condominium, cottage, vacant land, cooperative, or investment property, you or your lender can obtain title insurance to protect your ownership rights.

    For residential properties, title insurance policies cover houses, condominiums, cottages, and vacant land. If you own a commercial property, such as an office building, industrial building, shopping centre, or apartment building, you can opt for commercial title insurance to safeguard your interests.

    How Much Does Title Insurance Cost?

    The cost of title insurance varies depending on the property’s value, the province you live in, and the insurance provider. On average, title insurance premiums range from $250 to $400. While this is a one-time fee, it provides coverage for as long as you, your spouse, or (with some policies) heirs own the property.

    To determine the exact cost for your specific property, it’s recommended to obtain quotes from different title insurance providers and discuss the coverage details with your insurance broker or legal professional.

    How to Obtain Title Insurance

    Title insurance can be obtained through your real estate lawyer during closing. Your real estate lawyer can assist you in selecting a reputable title insurance provider and facilitate the purchase of the policy on your behalf.

    Alternatively, you can purchase title insurance through an insurance broker or on your own. Some well-known title insurance providers in Canada include: 

    Is Title Insurance Worth It?

    While title insurance is not legally required in Canada, it is highly recommended for homeowners. The benefits of title insurance make it a worthwhile investment for protecting your property and ownership rights.

    Here are some key reasons why title insurance is worth considering:

    Comprehensive Coverage

    Title insurance provides comprehensive coverage for various risks and issues related to the property’s title. It goes beyond a lawyer’s opinion and offers extensive protection against title fraud, defects, encroachments, and other title-related problems.

    Peace of Mind

    Buying a home is a significant financial and emotional undertaking. Title insurance offers peace of mind, knowing you have financial protection in case of any title-related challenges or disputes. It allows you to focus on enjoying your property without worrying about unexpected legal issues and costs.

    One-Time Cost

    Purchasing title insurance involves a one-time premium payment. Once you’ve paid the fee, the insurance remains valid as long as you or your heirs own the property. This means you can pass on the coverage to your children, divorced spouse, or other beneficiaries, providing long-term protection for your investment.

    Legal Coverage

    In the event of a title dispute or challenge, title insurance can cover your legal expenses. If you need to defend your property’s title in court, the insurance provider will assist in paying for your legal representation, potentially saving you significant legal costs.

    Frequently Asked Questions on Title Insurance in Canada

    Is title insurance mandatory in Canada?

    No, title insurance is not mandatory in Canada, though it may be required by your lender to undertake mortgage financing. However, it is important to consider purchasing it to protect against issues related to property ownership. 

    What does title insurance cover? 

    Title insurance covers various issues, such as outstanding debts on the property, unpaid taxes, construction liens, and encroachment issues. It does not cover damages to the property’s physical structure or issues related to poor maintenance.

    How much does title insurance cost?

    The cost of title insurance varies but is usually between $250 to $400, depending on the property’s value and location. It is a one-time premium payment, and coverage lasts for as long as you, or in some cases your heirs, own the property.

    Who needs title insurance, the property owner or the mortgage lender? 

    There are two types of title insurance. Owner insurance is for property owners, while lender insurance is for mortgage lenders. Both parties may choose to obtain title insurance for their respective interests. 

    How long does title insurance last? 

    Title insurance lasts as long as the insured party owns the property. In some cases, the policy will also extend to your heirs, spouse, or children if they inherit the property. 

    Final Thoughts 

    Title insurance is a valuable form of protection that every homeowner in Canada should consider. It offers coverage against a wide range of risks and uncertainties associated with the property’s title, providing homeowners with an extra layer of security and peace of mind. By understanding the benefits of title insurance, you can ensure the long-term protection of your largest investment, your home. 

    When purchasing a property, remember to discuss title insurance with your legal professional and explore reputable title insurance providers to find the coverage that suits your needs. With title insurance, you can confidently enjoy your home, knowing your ownership rights are safeguarded.