Charitable donations - title insurance inducements rules
1. I work for or represent a title company and I often go out to businesses to make presentations about various products we offer. Can I make a charitable donation in a real estate office's name in return for the opportunity to make such a presentation? The real estate office wouldn’t be required to buy the product.
No. This is strictly prohibited. The contribution is being made indirectly in exchange for the referral of title insurance business. See WAC 284-29-250(2)(b) and 284-29-205(13) (leg.wa.gov) for details.
2. Can title company staff attend a producer luncheon for the benefit of a charity and bid on auction items if he or she makes the check payable directly to the charity?
Yes. This is specifically allowed in the rules. See WAC 284-29-250(2)(a) (leg.wa.gov) for details.
3. May a title company co-sponsor a charitable fund-raising event with a producer?
No. A title company may only make a contribution directly to the charity, not sponsor a charitable fundraising event. See WAC 284-29-250(2) (leg.wa.gov) for details. Also, a title company cannot co-advertise with a producer in any manner whatsoever. See WAC 284-29-215 (leg.wa.gov) for details.
4. Before the new title insurance rules were in effect, my title company founded, organized, and hosted an annual fundraiser for a charitable foundation, which our local county association of realtors ran. We would like to continue to coordinate this event. We would organize and pay for all expenses for the event and then get reimbursed when the event is over. Can we still do this?
No. WAC 284-29-250 (leg.wa.gov) permits a title company to contribute to a charity only if the contribution it makes is "payable directly to the charity," and it does not make the contribution, directly or indirectly, in exchange for the referral of title business. Title company employees may, however, attend and volunteer their time at events hosted by charities. The purchasing, arrangement and securing of goods and services for this event is not the same as contributing funds directly to, and only to, the foundation itself. The intent of this rule is to limit charitable contributions to monetary contributions rather than in-kind donations.