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Standard v. Enhanced: Land survey matters

Part 1 of a series

As a homebuyer in the District of Columbia, Maryland and Virginia, you have a choice between two types of owner’s title insurance coverage — Standard (Limited) Coverage or Enhanced Coverage.

When deciding on which coverage, you may consider the possibility of being forced to remove a structure because it extends onto adjoining land or easement.

The Standard owner’s title insurance policy contains 4 basic insuring provisions including

  • (1) title being vested other than as stated,
  • (2) any defect in or lien or encumbrance on the title,
  • (3) unmarketability of the title,
  • (4) lack of a right of access to and from the land.

While the coverage under the Standard policy is broad, the policy form excludes coverage for certain matters that are traditionally outside the scope of a title search of the public records. One of those excluded matters concerns existing encroachments of structures or encroachments created subsequent to the date of the policy.

In other words, the Standard policy includes an exception for survey matters.

Unlike the Standard coverage, the Enhanced owner’s title insurance coverage insures against forced removal of a structure (except for boundary walls and fences) due to an encroachment. Moreover, the Enhanced coverage covers the insured in the event that, after the date of policy, someone else builds a structure that encroaches on to the insured’s land.

Specifically, the Enhanced policy covers the insured in the event the insured is forced to remove an existing structure because it extends on to adjoining land or on to any easement, or it violates a subdivision restriction, or it violates an existing zoning law.

There are many other insuring provisions to consider when selecting the type of owner’s title insurance coverage and I invite all of our prospective homebuyers to take a look at our Comparison of Coverages.

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