Company Quick10K Filing
First American Financial
Price57.94 EPS5
Shares114 P/E11
MCap6,590 P/FCF11
Net Debt-1,711 EBIT746
TEV4,879 TEV/EBIT7
TTM 2019-09-30, in MM, except price, ratios
10-K 2020-12-31 Filed 2021-02-17
10-Q 2020-09-30 Filed 2020-10-22
10-Q 2020-06-30 Filed 2020-07-23
10-Q 2020-03-31 Filed 2020-04-29
10-K 2019-12-31 Filed 2020-02-18
10-Q 2019-09-30 Filed 2019-10-24
10-Q 2019-06-30 Filed 2019-07-25
10-Q 2019-03-31 Filed 2019-04-25
10-K 2018-12-31 Filed 2019-02-20
10-Q 2018-09-30 Filed 2018-10-25
10-Q 2018-06-30 Filed 2018-07-26
10-Q 2018-03-31 Filed 2018-04-26
10-K 2017-12-31 Filed 2018-02-16
10-Q 2017-09-30 Filed 2017-10-26
10-Q 2017-06-30 Filed 2017-07-27
10-Q 2017-03-31 Filed 2017-04-27
10-K 2016-12-31 Filed 2017-02-17
10-Q 2016-09-30 Filed 2016-10-20
10-Q 2016-06-30 Filed 2016-07-21
10-Q 2016-03-31 Filed 2016-04-21
10-K 2015-12-31 Filed 2016-02-19
10-Q 2015-09-30 Filed 2015-10-22
10-Q 2015-06-30 Filed 2015-07-23
10-Q 2015-03-31 Filed 2015-04-23
10-K 2014-12-31 Filed 2015-02-23
10-Q 2014-09-30 Filed 2014-10-23
10-Q 2014-06-30 Filed 2014-07-24
10-Q 2014-03-31 Filed 2014-04-24
10-K 2013-12-31 Filed 2014-02-25
10-Q 2013-09-30 Filed 2013-10-24
10-Q 2013-06-30 Filed 2013-07-25
10-Q 2013-03-31 Filed 2013-04-26
10-K 2012-12-31 Filed 2013-02-28
10-Q 2012-09-30 Filed 2012-10-26
10-Q 2012-06-30 Filed 2012-07-30
10-Q 2012-03-31 Filed 2012-05-01
10-K 2011-12-31 Filed 2012-02-27
10-Q 2011-09-30 Filed 2011-11-02
10-Q 2011-06-30 Filed 2011-08-02
10-Q 2011-03-31 Filed 2011-05-02
10-K 2010-12-31 Filed 2011-03-01
10-Q 2010-09-30 Filed 2010-11-01
10-Q 2010-06-30 Filed 2010-08-09
10-Q 2010-03-31 Filed 2010-05-28
8-K 2021-02-11 Earnings, Exhibits
8-K 2020-10-30
8-K 2020-10-22
8-K 2020-07-23
8-K 2020-05-15
8-K 2020-05-08
8-K 2020-05-05
8-K 2020-04-23
8-K 2020-02-13
8-K 2019-10-24
8-K 2019-07-25
8-K 2019-05-28
8-K 2019-05-07
8-K 2019-04-30
8-K 2019-04-25
8-K 2019-02-14
8-K 2018-10-25
8-K 2018-07-26
8-K 2018-05-08
8-K 2018-04-26
8-K 2018-02-08

FAF 10K Annual Report

Part I
Item 1. Business
Item 1A. Risk Factors
Item 1B. Unresolved Staff Comments
Item 2. Properties
Item 3. Legal Proceedings
Item 4. Mine Safety Disclosures
Part II
Item 5. Market for Registrant's Common Equity, Related Stockholder Matters and Issuer Purchases of Equity Securities
Item 6. Selected Financial Data
Item 7. Management's Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations
Item 7A.Quantitative and Qualitative Disclosures About Market Risk
Item 8. Financial Statements and Supplementary Data
Note 1. Basis of Presentation and Significant Accounting Policies:
Note 2. Disposition of The Property and Casualty Insurance Business:
Note 3. Statutory Restrictions on Investments and Stockholders' Equity:
Note 4. Debt and Equity Securities:
Note 5. Allowance for Credit Losses - Accounts Receivable:
Note 6. Property and Equipment:
Note 7. Leases:
Note 8. Goodwill:
Note 9. Other Intangible Assets:
Note 10. Deposits:
Note 11. Reserve for Known and Incurred But Not Reported Claims:
Note 12. Notes and Contracts Payable:
Note 13. Net Investment Income:
Note 14. Income Taxes:
Note 15. Earnings per Share:
Note 16. Employee Benefit Plans:
Note 17. Fair Value Measurements:
Note 18. Share - Based Compensation Plans:
Note 19. Stockholders' Equity:
Note 20. Accumulated Other Comprehensive Income (Loss) ("Aoci"):
Note 21. Litigation and Regulatory Contingencies:
Note 22. Business Combinations:
Note 23. Segment Financial Information:
Note 1. Description of The Company:
Note 2. Dividends Received:
Item 9. Changes in and Disagreements with Accountants on Accounting and Financial Disclosure
Item 9A. Controls and Procedures
Item 9B. Other Information
Part III
Item 10. Directors, Executive Officers and Corporate Governance
Item 11. Executive Compensation
Item 12. Security Ownership of Certain Beneficial Owners and Management and Related Stockholder Matters
Item 13. Certain Relationships and Related Transactions, and Director Independence
Item 14. Principal Accountant Fees and Services
Part IV
Item 15. Exhibits and Financial Statement Schedules
Item 16. Form 10 - K Summary
EX-4.1 faf-ex41_144.htm
EX-10.6.1 faf-ex1061_197.htm
EX-10.6.2 faf-ex1062_198.htm
EX-10.7 faf-ex107_467.htm
EX-10.8 faf-ex108_466.htm
EX-10.9 faf-ex109_465.htm
EX-10.10 faf-ex1010_464.htm
EX-21 faf-ex21_143.htm
EX-23 faf-ex23_142.htm
EX-31.A faf-ex31a_141.htm
EX-31.B faf-ex31b_140.htm
EX-32.A faf-ex32a_138.htm
EX-32.B faf-ex32b_139.htm

First American Financial Earnings 2020-12-31

Balance SheetIncome StatementCash Flow
151296302012201420172020
Assets, Equity
1.71.41.00.70.30.02012201420172020
Rev, G Profit, Net Income
1.20.90.50.2-0.2-0.52012201420172020
Ops, Inv, Fin

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UNITED STATES

SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION

Washington, D.C. 20549

 

FORM 10-K

 

ANNUAL REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934

For the fiscal year ended December 31, 2020

OR

TRANSITION REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934

For the transition period from              to             

Commission file number 001-34580

 

 

(Exact name of registrant as specified in its charter)

 

 

Delaware

 

26-1911571

(State or other jurisdiction of

incorporation or organization)

 

(I.R.S. Employer

Identification No.)

1 First American Way, Santa Ana, California 92707-5913

(Address of principal executive offices) (Zip Code)

(714) 250-3000

Registrant’s telephone number, including area code

 

Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(b) of the Act:

Title of each class

 

Trading Symbol(s)

 

Name of each exchange on which registered

Common stock, $0.00001 par value

 

FAF

 

New York Stock Exchange

 

Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(g) of the Act:

None

 

Indicate by check mark if the registrant is a well-known seasoned issuer, as defined in Rule 405 of the Securities Act.    Yes      No  

Indicate by check mark if the registrant is not required to file reports pursuant to Section 13 or Section 15(d) of the Act.    Yes      No  

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant: (1) has filed all reports required to be filed by Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to file such reports), and (2) has been subject to such filing requirements for the past 90 days.    Yes      No  

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant has submitted electronically every Interactive Data File required to be submitted pursuant to Rule 405 of Regulation S-T (§ 232.405 of this chapter) during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to submit such files).    Yes      No  

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a large accelerated filer, an accelerated filer, a non-accelerated filer, a smaller reporting company or an emerging growth company.  See the definitions of “large accelerated filer,” “accelerated filer,” “smaller reporting company” and “emerging growth company” in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act.

 

Large accelerated filer

 

  

Accelerated filer

 

 

 

 

 

Non-accelerated filer

 

  

Smaller reporting company

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Emerging growth company

 

 

 

 

 

If an emerging growth company, indicate by check mark if the registrant has elected not to use the extended transition period for complying with any new or revised financial accounting standards provided pursuant to Section 13(a) of the Exchange Act.  

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant has filed a report on and attestation to its management’s assessment of the effectiveness of its internal control over financial reporting under Section 404(b) of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (15 U.S.C. 7262(b)) by the registered public accounting firm that prepared or issued its audit report.

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a shell company (as defined in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act).    Yes      No  

The aggregate market value of voting and non-voting common equity held by non-affiliates of the registrant as of June 30, 2020 was $5,183,749,234.

 


 

On February 9, 2021, there were 109,849,486 shares of common stock outstanding.

DOCUMENTS INCORPORATED BY REFERENCE

Portions of the registrant’s definitive proxy statement with respect to the 2021 annual meeting of the stockholders are incorporated by reference in Part III of this report.  The definitive proxy statement or an amendment to this Form 10-K will be filed no later than 120 days after the close of registrant’s fiscal year.

 

 

 

 


 

 

FIRST AMERICAN FINANCIAL CORPORATION

AND SUBSIDIARY COMPANIES

INFORMATION INCLUDED IN REPORT

 

PART I

 

 Item 1.

Business

6

 Item 1A.

Risk Factors

13

 Item 1B.

Unresolved Staff Comments

23

 Item 2.

Properties

23

 Item 3.

Legal Proceedings

23

 Item 4.

Mine Safety Disclosures

25

 PART II

 

 Item 5.

Market for Registrant’s Common Equity, Related Stockholder Matters and Issuer Purchases of Equity Securities

26

 Item 6.

Selected Financial Data

28

 Item 7.

Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations

29

 Item 7A.

Quantitative and Qualitative Disclosures About Market Risk

50

 Item 8.

Financial Statements and Supplementary Data

52

 Item 9.

Changes in and Disagreements with Accountants on Accounting and Financial Disclosure

120

 Item 9A.

Controls and Procedures

120

 Item 9B.

Other Information

121

 PART III

 

 Item 10.

Directors, Executive Officers and Corporate Governance

122

 Item 11.

Executive Compensation

122

 Item 12.

Security Ownership of Certain Beneficial Owners and Management and Related Stockholder Matters

122

 Item 13.

Certain Relationships and Related Transactions, and Director Independence

122

 Item 14.

Principal Accountant Fees and Services

122

 PART IV

 

 Item 15.

Exhibits and Financial Statement Schedules

123

 Item 16.

Form 10-K Summary

126

 

 

3


 

 

THIS ANNUAL REPORT ON FORM 10-K CONTAINS FORWARD LOOKING STATEMENTS WITHIN THE MEANING OF SECTION 27A OF THE SECURITIES ACT OF 1933, AS AMENDED, AND SECTION 21E OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934, AS AMENDED.  THESE FORWARD-LOOKING STATEMENTS CAN BE IDENTIFIED BY THE FACT THAT THEY DO NOT RELATE STRICTLY TO HISTORICAL OR CURRENT FACTS AND MAY CONTAIN THE WORDS “BELIEVE,” “ANTICIPATE,” “EXPECT,” “INTEND,” “PLAN,” “PREDICT,” “ESTIMATE,” “PROJECT,” “WILL BE,” “WILL CONTINUE,” “WILL LIKELY RESULT,” OR OTHER SIMILAR WORDS AND PHRASES OR FUTURE OR CONDITIONAL VERBS SUCH AS “WILL,” “MAY,” “MIGHT,” “SHOULD,” “WOULD,” OR “COULD.” THESE FORWARD-LOOKING STATEMENTS INCLUDE, WITHOUT LIMITATION, STATEMENTS REGARDING FUTURE OPERATIONS, PERFORMANCE, FINANCIAL CONDITION, PROSPECTS, PLANS AND STRATEGIES.  THESE FORWARD-LOOKING STATEMENTS ARE BASED ON CURRENT EXPECTATIONS AND ASSUMPTIONS THAT MAY PROVE TO BE INCORRECT.

RISKS AND UNCERTAINTIES EXIST THAT MAY CAUSE RESULTS TO DIFFER MATERIALLY FROM THOSE SET FORTH IN THESE FORWARD-LOOKING STATEMENTS.  FACTORS THAT COULD CAUSE THE ANTICIPATED RESULTS TO DIFFER FROM THOSE DESCRIBED IN THE FORWARD-LOOKING STATEMENTS INCLUDE, WITHOUT LIMITATION:

 

INTEREST RATE FLUCTUATIONS;

 

CHANGES IN THE PERFORMANCE OF THE REAL ESTATE MARKETS;

 

VOLATILITY IN THE CAPITAL MARKETS;

 

UNFAVORABLE ECONOMIC CONDITIONS;

 

THE CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC AND RESPONSES THERETO;

 

IMPAIRMENTS IN THE COMPANY’S GOODWILL OR OTHER INTANGIBLE ASSETS;

 

UNCERTAINTY FROM THE EXPECTED DISCONTINUANCE OF LIBOR AND TRANSITION TO ANY OTHER INTEREST RATE BENCHMARK;

 

FAILURES AT FINANCIAL INSTITUTIONS WHERE THE COMPANY DEPOSITS FUNDS;

 

REGULATORY OVERSIGHT AND CHANGES IN APPLICABLE LAWS AND GOVERNMENT REGULATIONS, INCLUDING PRIVACY AND DATA PROTECTION LAWS;

 

HEIGHTENED SCRUTINY BY LEGISLATORS AND REGULATORS OF THE COMPANY’S TITLE INSURANCE AND SERVICES SEGMENT AND CERTAIN OTHER OF THE COMPANY’S BUSINESSES;

 

REGULATION OF TITLE INSURANCE RATES;

 

LIMITATIONS ON ACCESS TO PUBLIC RECORDS AND OTHER DATA;

 

CLIMATE CHANGE, HEALTH CRISES, SEVERE WEATHER CONDITIONS AND OTHER CATASTROPHE EVENTS;

 

CHANGES IN RELATIONSHIPS WITH LARGE MORTGAGE LENDERS AND GOVERNMENT-SPONSORED ENTERPRISES;

 

CHANGES IN MEASURES OF THE STRENGTH OF THE COMPANY’S TITLE INSURANCE UNDERWRITERS, INCLUDING RATINGS AND STATUTORY CAPITAL AND SURPLUS;

 

LOSSES IN THE COMPANY’S INVESTMENT PORTFOLIO;

 

MATERIAL VARIANCE BETWEEN ACTUAL AND EXPECTED CLAIMS EXPERIENCE;

 

DEFALCATIONS, INCREASED CLAIMS OR OTHER COSTS AND EXPENSES ATTRIBUTABLE TO THE COMPANY’S USE OF TITLE AGENTS;

 

ANY INADEQUACY IN THE COMPANY’S RISK MANAGEMENT FRAMEWORK;

 

SYSTEMS DAMAGE, FAILURES, INTERRUPTIONS, CYBERATTACKS AND INTRUSIONS, OR UNAUTHORIZED DATA DISCLOSURES;

 

INNOVATION EFFORTS OF THE COMPANY AND OTHER INDUSTRY PARTICIPANTS AND ANY RELATED MARKET DISRUPTION;

4


 

 

ERRORS AND FRAUD INVOLVING THE TRANSFER OF FUNDS;

 

THE COMPANY’S USE OF A GLOBAL WORKFORCE;

 

INABILITY OF THE COMPANY’S SUBSIDIARIES TO PAY DIVIDENDS OR REPAY FUNDS; AND

 

OTHER FACTORS DESCRIBED IN THIS ANNUAL REPORT ON FORM 10-K, INCLUDING UNDER THE CAPTION “RISK FACTORS” IN ITEM 1A OF PART I.

THE FORWARD-LOOKING STATEMENTS SPEAK ONLY AS OF THE DATE THEY ARE MADE.  THE COMPANY DOES NOT UNDERTAKE TO UPDATE FORWARD-LOOKING STATEMENTS TO REFLECT CIRCUMSTANCES OR EVENTS THAT OCCUR AFTER THE DATE THE FORWARD-LOOKING STATEMENTS ARE MADE.

 

 

5


 

 

PART I

 

Item 1.

Business

The Company

First American Financial Corporation, a Delaware corporation (the “Company”), holds the financial services businesses of the Company’s prior parent.  On June 1, 2010, the Company’s common stock was listed on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol “FAF.” The businesses operated by the Company’s subsidiaries have, in some instances, been in existence since the late 1800s.

The Company has its executive offices at 1 First American Way, Santa Ana, California 92707-5913.  The Company’s telephone number is (714) 250-3000.

General

The Company, through its subsidiaries, is engaged in the business of providing title insurance, settlement services and other financial services and risk solutions through its title insurance and services segment and its specialty insurance segment.  The title insurance and services segment provides title insurance, closing and/or escrow services and similar or related services domestically and internationally in connection with residential and commercial real estate transactions.  The segment also provides products, services and solutions that are designed to mitigate risk in, or otherwise facilitate real estate transactions.  Many of these products, services and solutions involve the use of real property-related data, including data derived from its proprietary databases.  In addition, it provides banking, trust, warehouse lending and wealth management services.  The specialty insurance segment issues property and casualty insurance policies and sells home warranty products.  In addition, our corporate function consists of certain financing facilities as well as the corporate services that support our business operations.

The substantial majority of our business is dependent upon activity in the real estate and mortgage markets, which are cyclical and seasonal.  It is our strategy to profitably grow our core title insurance and settlement services business, strengthen our enterprise through data and process advantage and manage and actively invest in complementary businesses where the Company has a competitive advantage.  To achieve this, we focus on continued improvement of our customers’ experiences with our products, services and solutions, including through digital transformations, and on enhancing our services offered to title agents.  In an effort to speed the delivery of our products, increase efficiency, improve quality, improve the customer experience and decrease risk, we are utilizing innovative technologies, processes and techniques in the creation of our products and services.  These efforts include streamlining the title and closing processes by converting certain manual processes into automated ones.  We remain committed to efficiently managing our business to market conditions throughout business cycles.

Title Insurance and Services Segment

Our title insurance and services segment issues title insurance policies on residential and commercial property in the United States and offers similar or related products and services internationally.  This segment also provides closing and/or escrow services; accommodates tax-deferred exchanges of real estate; provides products, services and solutions designed to mitigate risk or otherwise facilitate real estate transactions; maintains, manages and provides access to title plant data and records; provides appraisals and other valuation-related products and services; provides lien release, document custodial and default-related products and services; and provides warehouse lending services and banking, trust and wealth management services.  In 2020, 2019, and 2018 the Company derived 92.2%, 91.5%, and 91.9% of its consolidated revenues, respectively, from this segment.

Overview of Title Insurance Industry

In most instances in the United States, and in certain instances internationally, mortgage lenders and purchasers of real estate desire to be protected from loss or damage in the event of defects in the title of the subject property.  Title insurance is a means of providing such protection.

6


 

Title Policies.    Title insurance policies insure the interests of owners or lenders against defects in the title to real property.  These defects include adverse ownership claims, liens, encumbrances or other matters affecting title.  Title insurance policies generally are issued on the basis of a preliminary title report or commitment, which is typically prepared after a search of one or more of public records, maps, documents and prior title policies to ascertain the existence of easements, restrictions, rights of way, conditions, encumbrances or other matters affecting the title to, or use of, real property. In certain limited instances, a visual inspection of the property is also made.  To facilitate the preparation of preliminary title reports and commitments, copies and/or abstracts of public records, maps, documents and prior title policies may be compiled and indexed to specific properties in an area.  This compilation is known as a “title plant.”

The beneficiaries of title insurance policies generally are real estate buyers and mortgage lenders.  A title insurance policy indemnifies the named insured and certain successors in interest against certain title defects, liens and encumbrances existing as of the date of the policy and not specifically excepted from its provisions.  The policy typically provides coverage for the real property mortgage lender in the amount of its outstanding mortgage loan balance and for the buyer in the amount of the purchase price of the property.  In some cases, the policy might provide insurance in a greater amount, or for automatic increases in coverage over time.  The potential for claims under a title insurance policy issued to a mortgage lender generally ceases upon repayment of the mortgage loan.  The potential for claims under a title insurance policy issued to a buyer generally ceases upon the sale or transfer of the insured property.

Before issuing title policies, title insurers typically seek to limit their risk of loss by accurately performing title searches and examinations and, in many instances, curing identified title defects.  These searches, examinations and curative efforts distinguish title insurers from other insurers, such as property and casualty insurers.  Whereas title insurers generally insure against losses arising out of circumstances existing as of the date of the policy, property and casualty insurers generally insure against losses arising out of events that occur subsequent to policy issuance.  As a result of these differences, title insurers typically experience relatively low claims, as a percentage of premiums, when compared to property and casualty insurers, but have relatively high expenses.  The primary expenses incurred by a title insurer pertain to underwriting (including the costs associated with searching and examining title), the curative process, and sales, as well as other administrative expenses.  Where the policy is issued by an agent, the premium retained by the agent is the primary expense for the insurer.

The Closing Process.    In the United States, title insurance is essential to the real estate closing process in most transactions involving real property mortgage lenders.  In a typical residential real estate sale transaction where title insurance is issued, a third party, such as a real estate broker or agent, lawyer or closer, orders the title insurance on behalf of an insured or in certain instances, such as with respect to a lender, the insured orders on its own behalf.  Once the order has been placed, a title insurance company or an agent typically conducts a title search to determine the current status of the title to the property.  When the search is complete, the title insurer or agent prepares, issues and circulates a commitment or preliminary report.  The commitment or preliminary report identifies the conditions, exceptions and/or limitations that the title insurer intends to attach to the policy and identifies items appearing on the title that must be eliminated prior to closing.

In the United States, the closing or settlement function, sometimes called an escrow in the western states, is, depending on the local custom in the region, performed by a lawyer, an escrow company or a title insurance company or agent, generally referred to as a “closer.” Once documentation has been prepared and signed, and any required mortgage lender payoff demands are obtained, the transaction closes.  The closer typically records the appropriate title documents and arranges the transfer of funds to pay off prior loans and extinguish the liens securing such loans.  Title policies are then issued, typically insuring the priority of the mortgage of the real property mortgage lender in the amount of its mortgage loan and the buyer in the amount of the purchase price.  The time between the opening of the title order and the issuance of the title policy is usually between 30 and 90 days.  Before a closing takes place, however, the title insurer or agent typically provides an update to the commitment to discover any adverse matters affecting title and, if any are found, works with the seller to eliminate them so that the title insurer or agent issues the title policy subject only to those exceptions to coverage which are acceptable to the title insurer, the buyer and the buyer’s lender.

7


 

Issuing the Policy: Direct vs. Agency.    A title insurance policy can be issued directly by a title insurer or indirectly on behalf of a title insurer through agents, which usually operate independently of the title insurer and typically issue policies for more than one insurer.  Where the policy is issued by a title insurer, the search is performed by or on behalf of the title insurer, and the premium is collected and retained by the title insurer.  Where the policy is issued by an agent, the search is typically performed by or on behalf of the agent, and the agent collects, and retains a portion of, the premium.  The agent remits the remainder of the premium to the title insurer as compensation for the insurer bearing the risk of loss in the event a claim is made under the policy and for other services the insurer may provide.  The percentage of the premium retained by an agent varies by geography and from agent to agent.  A title insurer is obligated to pay title claims in accordance with the terms of its policies, regardless of whether it issues its policy directly or indirectly through an agent.  In addition, when a title insurer has issued a commitment to insure a particular transaction, it may be requested to issue a closing protection letter that protects a lender or borrower, or in some states also a seller, from a loss of funds, under certain conditions, caused by the actions of the title insurer or its agent.  When a loss to the title insurer occurs under a policy issued through an agent or a closing protection letter, under certain circumstances the title insurer may seek recovery of all or a portion of the loss from the agent or the agent’s errors and omissions insurance carrier.

Premiums.    The premium for title insurance is typically due and earned in full when the real estate transaction is closed.  Premiums generally are calculated with reference to the policy amount.  The premium charged by a title insurer or an agent is subject to regulation in most areas.  Such regulations vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction.

Our Title Insurance Operations

Overview.    We conduct our title insurance and closing business through a network of direct operations and agents.  Through this network, we issue policies in the 49 states that permit the issuance of title insurance policies, the District of Columbia and certain United States territories.  We also offer title insurance, closing services and similar or related products and services, either directly or through third parties in other countries, including Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia, South Korea and various other established and emerging markets as described in the “International Operations” section below.  

The substantial majority of our title insurance and closing business is dependent upon activity in the real estate and mortgage markets, which are cyclical and seasonal.  Residential purchase activity is typically slower in the winter months with increased volumes in the spring and summer months and is sensitive to interest rates.  Residential refinance activity is not seasonal, but is generally correlated with changes in interest rates.  Commercial real estate volumes are less sensitive to changes in interest rates, but fluctuate based on local supply and demand conditions and financing availability and we typically see elevated activity towards the end of the year.  However, changes in general economic conditions in the United States and abroad, can cause fluctuations in these traditional patterns of real estate activity, and changes in the general economic conditions in a geography can cause fluctuations in these traditional patterns of real estate activity in that geography.

Distribution, Sales and Marketing.    We distribute our title insurance policies and related products and services through our direct and agent channels.  In our direct channel, the distribution of our policies and related products and services occurs through sales representatives located at numerous offices throughout the United States.  Title insurance policies issued, and other products and services delivered through, this channel are primarily delivered in connection with sales and refinances of residential and commercial real property.

Within the direct channel, our sales and marketing efforts are focused on the primary sources of business referrals.  For residential business, we market to real estate agents and brokers, mortgage brokers, real estate attorneys, mortgage originators, homebuilders and escrow service providers.  We also market directly to firms that purchase and sell residential real estate on a large-scale basis.  For refinance and default-related business for customers with centrally managed platforms, we market to mortgage originators, servicers and government-sponsored enterprises.  For the commercial business, we market primarily to commercial real estate principals, developers, and investors; real estate investment trusts; law firms; commercial lenders; life insurance companies; commercial brokers and mortgage brokers.  In some instances, we may supplement the efforts of our sales force with general marketing.  Our marketing efforts emphasize our product offerings, the quality and timeliness of our services, our financial strength, process innovation and our national presence.  We also provide educational information on our website and through other means to help consumers and others better understand our services, the homebuying/settlement process in general, and real estate market economic trends.

8


 

In our agency channel, we issue policies in accordance with agreements with authorized agents.  These agreements typically state the conditions under which the agent is authorized to issue our title insurance policies.  The agency agreement also typically prescribes the circumstances under which the agent may be liable to us if a policy loss occurs, as well as the services we provide to the agent and the price for those services.  Those services vary by geography and from agent to agent.  We are continuing to seek to provide additional services to our agents, including banking services and closing-related services, in an effort to reduce risk and enhance relationships with our agents.  As is standard in our industry, our agents typically operate with a substantial degree of independence from us and typically act as agents for other title insurers.

Within the agency channel, our sales and marketing efforts are directed at the agents themselves and emphasize the quality and timeliness of our underwriting support, our financial strength and our agency-based product offerings.  Premium splits also are of importance in attracting and retaining agents.

International Operations.    We provide products and services in a number of countries outside of the United States, and our international operations accounted for approximately 5.2% of our title insurance and services segment revenues in 2020.  Today we have direct operations and a physical presence in several countries, including Canada, the United Kingdom, South Korea and Australia. While reliable data are not available, we believe that we have the largest market share for title insurance outside of the United States.

Our range of international products and services is designed to lower our clients’ risk profiles and reduce their operating costs through enhanced operational efficiencies.  In certain established markets, primarily British Commonwealth countries, we have combined title insurance with customized processing offerings to enhance the speed and efficiency of the mortgage and conveyancing processes.  In these markets we also offer products designed to mitigate risk and otherwise facilitate real estate transactions.

Our international operations present risks that may not exist to the same extent in our domestic operations, including those associated with differences in the nature of the products provided, the scope of coverage provided by those products and the manner in which risk is underwritten.  In jurisdictions where we have limited claims experience, it is more difficult to set prices and reserve rates.

Data and Title Plants.    Our title insurance business is heavily dependent on data.  Underwriting decisions require comprehensive and accurate data.  In an attempt to enhance efficiency and reduce risk, certain underwriting functions are increasingly being automated.  As discussed further in the Innovation and Intellectual Property section below, our ability to automate underwriting decisions has accelerated as we have improved the breadth and quality of our data assets and our analytic tools.  

Our title plants constitute one of our principal assets.  A title search is typically conducted by searching the abstracted information from public records or utilizing a title plant holding information abstracted from public records.  While public title records generally are indexed by reference to the names of the parties to a given recorded document, our title plants primarily arrange their records on a geographic basis.  Because of this difference, title plant data and records generally may be searched more efficiently.  Many of our title plants also index prior title insurance policies, adding to searching efficiency.

Reserves for Claims and Losses.    We provide for losses associated with title insurance policies, closing protection letters and other risk-based products based upon our historical experience and other factors by a charge to expense when the related premium revenue is recognized.  The resulting reserve for incurred but not reported claims, together with the reserve for known claims, reflects management’s best estimate of the total costs required to settle all claims reported to us and claims incurred but not reported, and are considered to be adequate for such purpose.  Each period the reasonableness of the estimated reserves is assessed; if the estimate requires adjustment, such an adjustment is recorded.

Reinsurance and Coinsurance.    In certain circumstances we assume and cede title insurance risks through reinsurance. In reinsurance arrangements, the primary insurer retains a certain amount of risk under a policy and cedes the remainder of the risk under the policy to the reinsurer.  The primary insurer pays the reinsurer a premium in exchange for accepting this risk of loss.  The primary insurer generally remains liable to its insured for the total risk, but is reinsured for a portion of the total risk under the terms of the reinsurance agreement.  In addition to reinsurance arrangements involving other industry participants, we maintain a global treaty reinsurance program provided by a syndicate of highly rated reinsurers.  Subject to the treaty limits and certain other limitations, the program generally covers claims that arose while the program is in effect.

We also serve as a coinsurer in connection with certain commercial transactions.  In a coinsurance scenario, two or more insurers are selected by the insured and each coinsurer is liable for its specified percentage share of the total liability.

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Competition.    The business of providing title insurance and related products and services is highly competitive.  The number of competing companies and the size of such companies vary in the different areas in which we conduct business.  Generally, in areas of major real estate activity, such as metropolitan and suburban localities, we compete with many other title insurers and agents.  Our major nationwide competitors in our principal markets include Fidelity National Financial, Inc., Stewart Title Guaranty Company, Old Republic International Corporation and their affiliates.  In addition to these national competitors, small nationwide, regional and local competitors, as well as numerous agency operations throughout the country, provide aggressive competition at the local level.  We are currently the second largest provider of title insurance in the United States, based on the most recent American Land Title Association market share data.

We believe that competition for title insurance, closing services and related products and services is based primarily on service, quality, price, customer relationships and the ease of access and use of our products.  Customer service is an important competitive factor because parties to real estate transactions are usually concerned with time schedules and costs associated with delays in closing transactions.  In certain transactions, such as those involving commercial properties, financial strength and scope of coverage are also important.  In addition, we regularly evaluate our pricing and agent splits, and based on competitive, market and regulatory conditions and claims history, among other factors, adjust our prices and agent splits as and where appropriate.

Data and Analytics.    Our data and analytics business offers analytic solutions for title underwriting automation, fraud risk management, compliance and valuations that are powered by our extensive collection of property information and ownership data and recorded documents.  These solutions enable our title insurance operations, lenders, other title companies and other real estate industry participants to make informed, and increasingly automated, decisions to manage workflow and auditing and compliance operations.

Trust, Wealth Management and Banking Services.    Our federal savings bank subsidiary offers trust, wealth management and deposit products and related services, including fund transfer services.  The bank does not originate loans.  As of December 31, 2020, the bank administered fiduciary and custody assets having a market value of $4.4 billion, which includes managed assets of $2.1 billion.  The bank’s balance sheet had assets of $4.4 billion, with deposits of $3.9 billion and stockholder’s equity of $405.2 million.  The bank’s deposits have traditionally consisted almost entirely of funds deposited by its affiliates, but increasingly the bank is seeking deposits from title agents that are not affiliates.  While the majority of the bank’s deposited funds are from third parties to be held in trust pending the closing of commercial and residential real estate transactions, the bank also maintains other deposits, including operating funds deposited by its affiliates.

Specialty Insurance Segment

Home Warranty.    Our home warranty business provides residential service contracts that cover residential systems, such as heating and air conditioning systems, and certain appliances against failures that occur as the result of normal usage during the coverage period.  Coverage is typically for one year and is renewable annually at the option of the contract holder and upon our approval.  Coverage and pricing typically vary by geographic region.  Fees for the warranties generally are paid at the closing of the home purchase or directly by the consumer.  In addition, under the contract, the holder is responsible for a service fee for each trade call.  First year warranties are marketed through real estate brokers and agents, and we also market directly to consumers.  We generally sell renewals directly to consumers.  Revenues associated with home warranties sold at the time of a home purchase are dependent upon activity in the residential purchase market, which is cyclical and seasonal.  Residential purchase activity is typically slower in the winter months with increased volumes in the spring and summer months and is sensitive to interest rate fluctuations.  However, changes in general economic conditions in the United States and abroad, can cause fluctuations in this traditional pattern of activity, and changes in the general economic conditions in a geography can cause fluctuations in the traditional patterns of activity in that geography.  Our home warranty business currently operates in 35 states and the District of Columbia.

Property and Casualty Insurance.    Our property and casualty insurance business provides insurance coverage to residential homeowners and renters for liability losses and typical hazards such as fire, theft, vandalism and other types of property damage.  We are licensed to issue policies in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.  The majority of policy liability is in the western United States, including approximately 59% in California. We purchase reinsurance to limit risk associated with large losses from single events.

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In January 2021, our property and casualty insurance subsidiaries entered into book transfer agreements with Safeco Insurance, a Liberty Mutual Company (“Safeco”), and Heritage Insurance Holdings, Inc. (“Heritage”).  The agreements provide our qualifying property and casualty insurance agents and customers an opportunity to transfer their policies to Safeco or, in certain circumstances, Heritage.  The entry into these agreements is the result of the initiation of a process by the Company, announced in October 2020, to exit its property and casualty business.  We expect the transfer to be completed by the end of the third quarter of 2022.  We will seek to non-renew the policies that are not transferred.

Corporate

The Company’s corporate function consists primarily of certain financing facilities as well as the corporate services that support our business operations.

Innovation and Intellectual Property

In an effort to speed the delivery of its products, increase efficiency, improve quality, improve the customer experience and decrease risk, the Company is increasingly utilizing innovative technologies, processes and techniques in the creation of its products and services.  These efforts include streamlining the closing process by converting certain manual processes into automated ones, which we believe improves the customer experience by simplifying and reducing the time it takes to close a transaction, reducing risk and improving communication.  We are also deploying innovation solutions leveraging our bank to make the closing process more flexible.  The Company increasingly is employing advanced technologies to automate various internal processes, including processes related to the building, maintaining and updating of title plants and other data assets, as well as the search and examination of information in connection with the issuance of title insurance policies.

The Company relies on a combination of patents, trademarks, copyright and trade secret laws, non-disclosure agreements, contractual provisions and a system of internal safeguards to protect our intellectual property rights and proprietary information.  We have a number of patents of varying lengths issued and additional patent applications pending in the United States and internationally, including patents for title automation, loan risk assessment, online platforms, optical character recognition and data extraction.  We also believe that many of our brands have accumulated substantial goodwill in the marketplace.

Human Capital Resources

As of December 31, 2020, the Company employed 19,597 employees, with 12,849 of them located in the United States and 6,748 outside of the U.S.  We strive to have a positive, collaborative culture that engages employees, as we believe engaged employees serve our customers well.  We believe this combination, along with the efficient operation of our business, ultimately benefits our stockholders.  As part of this effort, we participate in competitions that recognize the quality of our workplace, which competitions we believe provide a framework for improving, and insights for evaluating, our employee engagement efforts.  Moreover, receipt of awards in connection with those competitions facilitates our efforts to retain desired talent.  The success of our efforts is demonstrated through our inclusion on the Fortune 100 Best Companies to Work For® list in the United States for the last five years and the Best Workplaces™ in Canada list for the last six years, as well as a number of similar lists in local areas.  In addition, we have been recognized on the Fortune® and Great Place to Work® lists for Best Workplaces for Women and Best Workplaces for Diversity for four years in a row.  We also have implemented many professional development programs to build and strengthen the skill set of our employees.  And, reflecting our perspective on the benefits of a diverse workforce, we have formed a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Council, which is focused on the development of employee-centered actions to enhance the recruitment, engagement, development, and retention of diverse employees.

Regulation

Many of our subsidiaries are subject to extensive regulation by applicable domestic or foreign regulatory agencies.  The extent of such regulation varies based on the industry involved, the nature of the business conducted by the subsidiary (for example, licensed title insurers are subject to a heightened level of regulation compared to underwritten title companies or agencies), the subsidiary’s jurisdiction of organization and the jurisdictions in which it operates.  In addition, the Company is subject to regulation as both an insurance holding company and a savings and loan holding company.

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Our domestic subsidiaries that operate in the title insurance industry or the property and casualty insurance industry are subject to regulation by state insurance regulators.  Each of our underwriters, or insurers, is regulated primarily by the insurance department or equivalent governmental body within the jurisdiction of its organization, which oversees compliance with the laws and regulations pertaining to such insurer.  For example, our primary title insurance underwriter, First American Title Insurance Company, is a Nebraska corporation and, accordingly, is primarily regulated by the Nebraska Department of Insurance.  Insurance regulations typically place limits on, among other matters, the ability of the insurer to pay dividends to its parent company or to enter into transactions with affiliates.  They also may require approval of the insurance commissioner prior to a third party directly or indirectly acquiring control of the insurer, which may make it difficult or prohibitive for a third party to acquire our Company.

In addition, our insurers are subject to the laws of other jurisdictions in which they transact business, which laws typically establish supervisory agencies with broad administrative powers relating to issuing and revoking licenses to transact business; regulating trade practices; licensing agents; approving policy forms, accounting practices and financial practices; establishing requirements pertaining to reserves and capital and surplus as regards policyholders; requiring the deferral of a portion of all premiums in a reserve for the protection of policyholders and the segregation of investments in a corresponding amount; establishing parameters regarding suitable investments for reserves, capital and surplus; and approving rate schedules.  The manner in which rates are established or changed ranges from states which promulgate rates, to states where individual companies or associations of companies prepare rate filings which are submitted for approval, to a few states in which rate changes do not need to be filed for approval.  In addition, each of our insurers is subject to periodic examination by regulatory authorities both within its jurisdiction of organization as well as the other jurisdictions where it is licensed to conduct business.

Our foreign insurance subsidiaries are regulated primarily by regulatory authorities in the regions, provinces and/or countries in which they operate and may secondarily be regulated by the domestic regulator of First American Title Insurance Company as a part of the First American insurance holding company system.  Each of these regions, provinces and countries has established a regulatory framework with respect to the oversight of compliance with its laws and regulations.  Therefore, our foreign insurance subsidiaries generally are subject to regulatory review, examination, investigation and enforcement in a similar manner as our domestic insurance subsidiaries, subject to local variations.

Our underwritten title companies, agencies and property and casualty insurance agencies are also subject to certain regulation by insurance regulatory or banking authorities, including, but not limited to, minimum net worth requirements, licensing requirements, statistical reporting requirements, rate filing requirements and marketing restrictions.

Certain laws and regulations, such as the cyber security requirements of the New York Department of Financial Services, require the Company to maintain certain information security standards and practices.

In addition to state-level regulation, our domestic subsidiaries that operate in the insurance business, as well as our home warranty, banking and certain other subsidiaries, are subject to regulation by federal agencies, including the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (“CFPB”).  The CFPB has broad authority to regulate, among other areas, the mortgage and real estate markets, including our domestic subsidiaries, in matters which impact consumers.  This authority includes the enforcement of federal consumer financial laws, including the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act.  Regulations issued by the CFPB, or the manner in which it interprets and enforces existing consumer protection laws, have impacted and could continue to impact the way in which we conduct our businesses and the profitability of those businesses.

In addition, our home warranty and settlement services businesses are subject to regulation in some states by insurance authorities or other applicable regulatory entities.

Our federal savings bank is regulated and supervised by the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation.  The Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (the “Federal Reserve Board”) regulates and supervises the Company, as a savings and loan holding company, including its non-banking subsidiaries that are part of the holding company system.  Federal banking laws and regulations require third parties to obtain prior approval to acquire control of our federal savings bank or our Company, which may make such an acquisition of our Company by a third party more difficult or prohibitive.

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Cybersecurity and Data Protection

The Company dedicates significant resources to securing its systems and to protecting non-public personal information and other confidential information.  These include resources dedicated to intrusion prevention such as firewalls, endpoint protection and behavior analysis tools, among others.  They also include resources dedicated toward vulnerability identification through the performance of vulnerability scans and penetration tests, among other methods.

Investment Policies

The Company’s investment portfolio activities, such as policy setting, compliance reporting, portfolio reviews, and strategy, are overseen by an investment committee made up of certain senior executives.  Additionally, certain of the Company’s regulated subsidiaries have established and maintain investment committees to oversee their own investment portfolios.  The Company’s investment policies are designed to comply with regulatory requirements and to align the investment portfolio asset allocation with strategic objectives.  For example, our federal savings bank is required to maintain at least 65% of its asset portfolio in loans or securities that are secured by real estate.  Our federal savings bank currently does not make real estate loans, and therefore fulfills this regulatory requirement through investments in mortgage-backed securities.  In addition, applicable law imposes certain restrictions upon the types and amounts of investments that may be made by our regulated insurance subsidiaries.

The Company’s investment policies further provide that investments are to be managed to maximize long-term returns consistent with liquidity, regulatory and risk objectives, and that investments should not expose the Company to excessive levels of credit, liquidity, and interest rate risks.

As of December 31, 2020, 93% of our investment portfolio consisted of debt securities.  As of that date, 64% of our debt securities portfolio was either United States government-backed or rated AAA, and 98% was either rated or classified as investment grade.  Percentages are based on the estimated fair values of the securities.  Credit ratings reflect published ratings obtained from globally recognized securities rating agencies.  If a security was rated differently among the rating agencies, the lowest rating was selected.

In addition to our debt and equity securities portfolio, we maintain certain money-market and other short-term investments.  We also hold strategic equity investments in companies engaged in our businesses or similar or related businesses.

Available Information

The Company maintains a website, www.firstam.com, which includes financial information and other information for investors, including open and closed title insurance orders (which typically are posted approximately 10 to 12 days after the end of each calendar month).  The Company’s Annual Reports on Form 10-K, Quarterly Reports on Form 10-Q, Current Reports on Form 8-K and amendments to those reports filed or furnished pursuant to Section 13(a) or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 are available free of charge through the “Investors” page of the website as soon as reasonably practicable after the Company electronically files such material with, or furnishes it to, the Securities and Exchange Commission. The Company’s website and the information contained therein or connected thereto are not intended to be incorporated into this Annual Report on Form 10-K, or any other filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission unless the Company expressly incorporates such materials.

 

Item 1A.

Risk Factors

The following “risk factors” could materially and adversely affect the Company’s business, operations, reputation, financial position or future financial performance. You should carefully consider each of the following risk factors and the other information contained in this Annual Report on Form 10-K.  The Company faces risks other than those listed here, including those that are unknown to the Company and others of which the Company may be aware but, at present, considers immaterial.  Because of the following factors, as well as other variables affecting the Company’s operating results, past financial performance may not be a reliable indicator of future performance, and historical trends should not be used to anticipate results or trends in future periods.

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STRATEGIC RISK FACTORS

1.The Company’s risk management framework could prove inadequate, which could adversely affect the Company

The Company’s risk management framework is designed to identify, monitor and mitigate risks that could have a negative impact on the Company’s financial condition or reputation.  This framework includes departments or groups dedicated to enterprise risk management, information security, disaster recovery and other information technology-related risks, business continuity, legal and compliance, compensation structures and other human resources matters, vendor management and internal audit, among others.  Many of the processes overseen by these departments function at the enterprise level, but many also function through, or rely to a certain degree upon, risk mitigation efforts in local operating groups.  Similarly, with respect to the risks the Company assumes in the ordinary course of its business through the issuance of title insurance policies and the provision of related products and services, the Company employs localized as well as centralized risk mitigation efforts.  These efforts include the implementation of underwriting policies and procedures, automated risk-decisioning tools and other mechanisms for assessing and managing risk.  Underwriting title insurance policies and making other risk-assumption decisions frequently involves a substantial degree of individual judgment and, accordingly, underwriters are maintained at the state, regional, divisional, and corporate levels with varying degrees of underwriting authority.  These individuals may be encouraged by customers or others to assume risks or to expeditiously make risk determinations.  If the Company’s risk mitigation efforts prove inadequate, the Company could be adversely affected.

2.The Company is pursuing various innovative initiatives, which could result in increased title claims or otherwise adversely affect the Company

In an effort to speed the delivery of its products, increase efficiency, improve quality, improve the customer experience and decrease risk, the Company is increasingly utilizing innovative technologies, processes and techniques in the creation of its products and services.  These efforts include streamlining the closing process by converting certain manual processes into automated ones, which the Company believes will improve the customer experience by simplifying and reducing the time it takes to close a transaction, reducing risk and improving communication.  The Company increasingly is employing advanced technologies to automate various processes, including various processes related to the building, maintaining and updating of title plants and other data assets, as well as the search and examination of information in connection with the issuance of title insurance policies.  As a result of the recent reduction in interest rates in connection with the coronavirus pandemic, the Company has experienced a significant increase in refinance orders.  To facilitate the processing of these orders, the Company has expanded the use of certain of these advanced technologies.  Risks from these and other innovative initiatives include those associated with potential defects in the design and development of the technologies used to automate processes, misapplication of technologies, the reliance on data that may prove inadequate, and failure to meet customer expectations, among others.  As a result of these risks, the Company could experience increased claims, reputational damage or other adverse effects, which could be material to the Company.

3.Potentially disruptive innovation in the real estate industry and/or the Company’s participation in these efforts could adversely affect the Company

In addition to the Company’s innovative activities, other participants in the real estate industry are seeking to innovate in ways that could adversely impact the Company’s businesses.  These participants include certain of the Company’s sources of business, competitors and ultimate customers.  Innovations by these participants may change the demand for the Company’s products and services, the manner in which the Company’s products and services are ordered or fulfilled and the revenue or profitability derived from the products and services.  The Company has made and will likely continue to make high-risk, illiquid investments in some of these participants, typically during their early- and growth-stages.  If any of these companies do not succeed, the Company could lose and/or be required to impair all or part of its investment in the unsuccessful company.  The risk of such impairment is generally greater during periods of economic uncertainty, such as that currently being experienced in the United States.  The prospects of these investments also depend on a number of factors in addition to the condition of the general economy, including the general availability of capital, the performance of and volatility in the public markets, the condition of the real estate industry, the competitive environment for such participants and the operational and financial performance of such participants. These investments could also facilitate efforts that ultimately disrupt the Company’s business or enable competitors.  Accordingly, the Company’s efforts to anticipate and participate in these transformations could require significant additional investment and management attention and may not succeed.  These innovative efforts by third parties, and the manner in which the Company, its agents and other industry participants respond to them, could therefore have an adverse effect on the Company.

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4.The coronavirus pandemic and the responses thereto could adversely affect the Company

The coronavirus pandemic and responses to it have created significant volatility, uncertainty and disruption in the broader economy.  The extent to which the coronavirus pandemic impacts the Company’s business, operations and financial results will depend on numerous factors that the Company may not be able to accurately predict, including: the duration and scope of the pandemic and restrictions and responses to it; governmental, business and individual actions that have been and continue to be taken in response to the pandemic; the ongoing impact of the pandemic on economic activity and actions taken in response, including the efficacy of governmental relief efforts; the availability and efficacy of vaccines; the effect on participants in real estate transactions and the demand for the Company’s products and services, including as a result of higher unemployment, business closures and economic uncertainty; and the Company’s ability to sell and provide, or its efficiency in selling and providing, its services and solutions, including as a result of illness, travel restrictions, governmental closure orders and partial or full closures of business and government offices.  For example, in the second and third quarters of 2020, the Company experienced a decrease in the number of opened commercial orders relative to the same periods of the prior year, and experienced a decrease in the number of opened residential purchase orders early in the pandemic.  The Company also experienced increased volatility in the Company’s investment portfolio early in the pandemic.  The Company is also taking certain underwriting risks that could result in increased claims.  In addition, the Company has made changes to certain of its production processes that also could result in increased claims.  While the Company is unable to predict the ultimate impact the coronavirus pandemic and related responses will have on its businesses, these events adversely affected the Company early in the pandemic, and still could adversely affect, its business and results of operations and, if prolonged, could materially adversely affect the Company’s financial condition.  The impacts of the coronavirus pandemic may also exacerbate the risks discussed elsewhere in Part I, Item 1A of this Annual Report.

OPERATIONAL RISK FACTORS

 

5.

Conditions in the real estate market generally impact the demand for a substantial portion of the Company’s products and services and the Company’s claims experience

Demand for a substantial portion of the Company’s products and services generally decreases as the number of real estate transactions in which its products and services are purchased decreases.  The number of real estate transactions in which the Company’s products and services are purchased decreases in the following situations, among others:

 

when mortgage interest rates are high or rising;

 

when the availability of credit, including commercial and residential mortgage funding, is limited; and

 

when real estate affordability is declining.

These circumstances, particularly when combined with declining real estate values and the increase in foreclosures that often results therefrom, also tend to adversely impact the Company’s title claims experience.

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6.

Unfavorable economic conditions adversely affect the Company

Historically, uncertainty and negative trends in general economic conditions in the United States and abroad, including significant tightening of credit markets and a general decline in the value of real property, have created a difficult operating environment for the Company’s core title and settlement businesses.  Uncertainty and a deterioration in economic conditions in connection with the coronavirus pandemic adversely affected the Company early in the pandemic.  These conditions also tend to negatively impact the amount of funds the Company receives from third parties to be held in trust pending the closing of commercial and residential real estate transactions.  The Company deposits a substantial portion of these funds, as well as its own funds, with the federal savings bank it owns.  The Company’s bank invests those funds and any realized losses incurred on those investments will be reflected in the Company’s consolidated results.  The likelihood of such losses, which generally would not occur if the Company were to deposit these funds in an unaffiliated entity, increases when economic conditions are unfavorable.  Moreover, during periods of unfavorable economic conditions, the return on these funds deposited at the Company’s bank, as well as funds the Company deposits with third party financial institutions, tends to decline.  Certain rules promulgated in connection with the coronavirus pandemic allow certain borrowers to request forbearance of the payment of their mortgages.  In certain circumstances, if a borrower requests forbearance on a mortgage originated through the Company’s warehouse lender before that mortgage is sold to a third party, the Company’s warehouse lender may have to retain that loan.  In addition, the Company holds investments in entities, such as title agencies and settlement service providers, some of which have been negatively impacted by these conditions, as well as other securities in its investment portfolio, which also may be, and recently have been, negatively impacted by these conditions.  Depending upon the ultimate severity and duration of any economic downturn, the resulting effects on the Company could be materially adverse, including a significant reduction in revenues, earnings and cash flows, challenges to the Company’s ability to satisfy covenants or otherwise meet its obligations under debt facilities, difficulties in obtaining access to capital, challenges to the Company’s ability to pay dividends at currently anticipated levels, deterioration in the value of or return on its investments and increased credit risk from customers and others with obligations to the Company.

 

7.

Climate change, severe weather conditions, health crises and other catastrophe events could adversely affect the Company

Climate change, global or extensive health crises, severe weather and other catastrophe events could adversely affect the Company.  These include impacts on the results of the Company’s property and casualty insurance business due to any increase in the frequency and severity of wildfires, hurricanes, floods, earthquakes or other catastrophe or severe weather events, as well as increased claims in the Company’s home warranty business.  Home warranty claims, including those pertaining to climate control units, tend to rise as temperatures become extreme, especially in geographies where extreme temperatures are infrequent, and as people spend more time at home, such as during the coronavirus pandemic.  In addition, the Company manages its financial exposure for losses in its title insurance business and in its property and casualty insurance business with third-party reinsurance.  Catastrophic events could adversely affect the cost and availability of that reinsurance.  Moreover, to the extent climate change, health crises, severe weather conditions and other catastrophe events impact companies or municipalities whose securities the Company invests in, the value of its investment portfolio may also decrease due to these factors.  In addition, these factors may impact real estate markets and the broader economy, which could also impact the Company.  The frequency, severity, duration, and geographic location and scope of such health crises, catastrophe and severe whether events are inherently unpredictable, and, therefore, the Company is unable to predict the ultimate impact climate change and such events will have on its businesses.

8.The Company may find it difficult to acquire necessary data

Certain data used and supplied by the Company are subject to regulation by various federal, state and local regulatory authorities.  Compliance with existing federal, state and local laws and regulations with respect to such data has not had a material adverse effect on the Company’s results of operations to date.  Nonetheless, federal, state and local laws and regulations in the United States designed to protect the public from the misuse of personal information in the marketplace and adverse publicity or potential litigation concerning the commercial use of such information may affect the Company’s operations and could result in substantial regulatory compliance expense, litigation expense and a loss of revenue.  The suppliers of data to the Company face similar burdens.  As a result of these and other factors, the Company may find it financially burdensome to acquire necessary data.

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9.Changes in the Company’s relationships with large mortgage lenders or government–sponsored enterprises could adversely affect the Company

Large mortgage lenders and government-sponsored enterprises, because of their significant role in the mortgage process, have significant influence over the Company and other service providers.  Changes in the Company’s relationship with any of these lenders or government-sponsored enterprises, the loss of all or a portion of the business the Company derives from these parties, any refusal of these parties to accept the Company’s products and services, the modification of the government-sponsored enterprises’ requirement for title insurance in connection with mortgages they purchase or the use of alternatives to the Company’s products and services, could have a material adverse effect on the Company.

10.A downgrade by ratings agencies, reductions in statutory capital and surplus maintained by the Company’s title insurance underwriters or a deterioration in other measures of financial strength could adversely affect the Company

Certain of the Company’s customers use measurements of the financial strength of the Company’s title insurance underwriters, including, among others, ratings provided by ratings agencies and levels of statutory capital and surplus maintained by those underwriters, in determining the amount of a policy they will accept and the amount of reinsurance required.  Each of the major ratings agencies currently rates the Company’s title insurance operations. The Company’s principal title insurance underwriter’s financial strength ratings are “A2” by Moody’s Investor Services, Inc., “A” by Fitch Ratings, Inc., “A-” by Standard & Poor’s Ratings Services and “A” by A.M. Best Company, Inc. These ratings provide the agencies’ perspectives on the financial strength, operating performance and cash generating ability of those operations.  These agencies continually review these ratings and the ratings are subject to change.  Statutory capital and surplus, or the amount by which statutory assets exceed statutory liabilities, is also a measure of financial strength.  The Company’s principal title insurance underwriter maintained $1.5 billion of total statutory capital and surplus as of December 31, 2020.  Accordingly, if the ratings or statutory capital and surplus of these title insurance underwriters are reduced from their current levels, or if there is a deterioration in other measures of financial strength, the Company’s results of operations, competitive position and liquidity could be adversely affected.

11.The issuance of the Company’s title insurance policies and related activities by title agents, which operate with substantial independence from the Company, could adversely affect the Company

The Company’s title insurance subsidiaries issue a significant portion of their policies through title agents that operate largely independent of the Company.  There is no guarantee that these title agents will fulfill their contractual obligations to the Company, which contracts include limitations that are designed to limit the Company’s risk with respect to their activities.  In addition, regulators are increasingly seeking to hold the Company responsible for the actions of these title agents and, under certain circumstances, the Company may be held liable directly to third parties for actions (including defalcations) or omissions of these agents.  Case law in certain states also suggests that the Company is liable for the actions or omissions of its agents in those states, regardless of contractual limitations.  As a result, the Company’s use of title agents could result in increased claims on the Company’s policies issued through agents and an increase in other costs and expenses.

12.Systems damage, failures, interruptions, cyberattacks and intrusions, and unauthorized data disclosures by the Company or its service providers may disrupt the Company’s business, harm the Company’s reputation, result in material claims for damages or otherwise adversely affect the Company

The Company uses computer systems and other technologies (collectively referred to as “systems”), some of which it owns and manages and some of which are owned and/or managed by third parties, including providers of distributed computing infrastructure platforms commonly known as the “cloud.”  The Company and its agents, suppliers, service providers, and customers use these systems to receive, process, store and transmit business information, including non-public personal information as well as data from suppliers and other information upon which the Company’s business relies.  The Company also uses these systems to manage substantial cash, investment assets, bank deposits, trust assets and escrow account balances on behalf of itself and its customers, among other activities.  Many of the Company’s products, services and solutions involving the use of real property related data are fully reliant on these systems and are only available electronically.  Accordingly, for a variety of reasons, the integrity of these systems and the protection of the information that resides thereon are critically important to the Company’s successful operation.

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These systems have been subject to, and are likely to continue to be the target of, computer viruses, cyberattacks, phishing attacks and other malicious activity.  These attacks have increased in frequency and sophistication, including in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.  The Company’s employees working remotely are more susceptible to social engineering attacks, intrusions and other malicious activity, and this risk has increased given that a substantial number of the Company’s employees are working from home as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.  The Company’s applications and infrastructure also have known and unknown vulnerabilities.  Once identified, the Company’s information technology and information security personnel seek to remediate these vulnerabilities based on the level of risk presented.  For a number of reasons, including the introduction of new vulnerabilities, resource constraints, competing business demands and dependence on third parties, a number of unremediated vulnerabilities will always exist.  Remediation of some vulnerabilities are outside of the control of the Company and third-party remediation efforts may not be timely provided or implemented, even when the level of risk is critical or high.  Further, certain other potential causes of system damage or other negative system-related events are wholly or partially beyond the Company’s control, such as natural disasters, vendor failures to satisfy service level requirements and power or telecommunications failures.  These circumstances could expose the Company to system-related damages, failures, interruptions, cyberattacks and other negative events or could otherwise disrupt the Company’s business and could also result in the loss or unauthorized release, gathering, monitoring or destruction of confidential, proprietary and other information pertaining to the Company, its customers, employees, agents or suppliers.

In conducting its business and delivering its products and services, the Company also utilizes service providers.  These service providers and the systems they utilize are typically subject to similar types of system- and information security-related risks that the Company faces.  The Company provides certain of these service providers with data, including nonpublic personal information.  There is no guarantee that the Company’s due diligence or ongoing vendor oversight will be sufficient to ensure the integrity and security of the systems utilized by these service providers or the protection of the information that resides thereon.  Adverse consequences for the Company in the event of a significant event involving the systems of its service providers or the information residing thereon include, among others, delays in the delivery of the Company’s products and services, direct or indirect financial loss, loss of business and reputational damage.

During the third quarter of 2019, the Company concluded an investigation regarding unauthorized access to non-public personal information as a result of a vulnerability in one of the Company’s applications.  The investigation identified imaged documents containing non-public personal information pertaining to 32 consumers that likely were accessed without authorization.  These 32 consumers were notified and offered complimentary credit monitoring services.  This incident triggered numerous federal and state governmental inquiries as well as private lawsuits against the Company.  While the incident is not expected to have a material impact on the Company’s business, it increases the risk associated with any future incidents, particularly the risk of damage to the Company’s reputation.

Certain laws and contracts the Company has entered into require it to notify various parties, including consumers or customers, in the event of certain actual or potential data breaches or systems failures, including those of the Company’s service providers.  These notifications can result, among other things, in the loss of customers, lawsuits, adverse publicity, diversion of management’s time and energy, the attention of regulatory authorities, fines and disruptions in sales.  Further, the Company’s financial institution customers have obligations to safeguard their systems and sensitive information and the Company may be bound contractually and/or by regulation to comply with the same requirements.  If the Company or its service providers fail to comply with applicable regulations and contractual requirements, the Company could be exposed to lawsuits, governmental proceedings or the imposition of fines, among other consequences.

Any inability to prevent or adequately respond to the issues described above could disrupt the Company’s business, inhibit its ability to retain existing customers or attract new customers, otherwise harm its reputation and/or result in financial losses, litigation, increased costs or other adverse consequences that could be material to the Company.

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13.Errors and fraud involving the transfer of funds may adversely affect the Company

The Company relies on its systems, employees and domestic and international banks to transfer its own funds and the funds of third parties.  In addition to relying on third-party banks to transfer these funds, the Company’s federal savings bank subsidiary transfers funds on behalf of the Company as well as title agents that are not affiliates of the Company.  These transfers are susceptible to user input error, fraud, system interruptions, incorrect processing and similar errors that from time to time result in lost funds or delayed transactions.  The Company’s email and computer systems and systems used by its agents, customers and other parties involved in a transaction have been subject to, and are likely to continue to be the target of, fraudulent attacks, including attempts to cause the Company or its agents to improperly transfer funds.  These attacks have increased in frequency and sophistication.  Funds transferred to a fraudulent recipient are often not recoverable.  In certain instances the Company may be liable for those unrecovered funds.  The controls and procedures used by the Company to prevent transfer errors and fraud may prove inadequate, resulting in financial losses, reputational harm, loss of customers or other adverse consequences which could be material to the Company.

14.The Company’s use of a global workforce involves risks that could adversely affect the Company

The Company utilizes lower cost labor in countries such as India and the Philippines, among others.  These countries are subject to relatively high degrees of political and social instability and may lack the infrastructure to withstand natural disasters, health crises and other catastrophe events.  Such disruptions could decrease efficiency and increase the Company’s costs, which the Company has experienced during the coronavirus pandemic.  Weakness of the United States dollar in relation to the currencies used in these countries may also reduce the savings achievable through this strategy.  Furthermore, the practice of utilizing labor based in other countries is subject to heightened scrutiny in the United States and, as a result, the Company could face pressure to decrease its use of labor based outside the United States.  Laws or regulations that require the Company to use labor based in the United States or effectively increase the Company’s labor costs abroad also could be enacted.  The Company may not be able to pass on these increased costs to its customers.

LEGAL AND COMPLIANCE RISK FACTORS

15.Regulatory oversight and changes in government regulation could require the Company to raise capital, make it more difficult to deploy capital, including dividends to shareholders and repurchases of the Company’s shares, prohibit or limit the Company’s operations, make it more costly or burdensome to conduct such operations or result in decreased demand for the Company’s products and services

Many of the Company’s businesses, including its title insurance, property and casualty insurance, home warranty, banking, trust and wealth management businesses, are regulated by various federal, state, local and foreign governmental agencies.  These and other of the Company’s businesses also operate within statutory guidelines.  The industry in which the Company operates and the markets into which it sells its products are also regulated and subject to statutory guidelines.  In general, in recent years, the Company experienced increasing regulatory oversight and became subject to increasingly complex statutory guidelines.  This is due, among other factors, to the passing of, and significant changes in, laws and regulations pertaining to privacy and data protection and to the Company’s status as a savings and loan holding company.

Regulatory oversight could require the Company to raise capital, and/or make it more difficult to deploy capital, including dividends to shareholders and repurchases of the Company’s shares.  For example, regulatory capital requirements for the Company have historically applied only at the subsidiary level, specifically to the Company’s federal savings bank subsidiary and the Company’s insurance underwriter subsidiaries.  However, both the National Association of Insurance Commissioners and the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System have issued proposals for group capital calculations.  These proposals, if finalized and adopted in their current forms, would apply to the Company at the group level and would be in addition to existing subsidiary-level capital requirements.  It is possible that the requirements, particularly in an economic downturn, could have the effect of requiring the Company to raise capital and/or making it more difficult to otherwise deploy capital, including dividends to shareholders and repurchases of the Company’s shares.

In addition, changes in the applicable regulatory environment, statutory guidelines or interpretations of existing regulations or statutes, enhanced governmental oversight or efforts by governmental agencies to cause customers to refrain from using the Company’s products or services could prohibit or limit its future operations or make it more costly or burdensome to conduct such operations or result in decreased demand for the Company’s products and services or a change in its competitive position.  The impact of these changes would be more significant if they involve jurisdictions in which the Company generates a greater portion of its title premiums, such as the states of Arizona, California, Florida, Michigan, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Texas.  These changes may compel the Company to reduce its prices, may restrict its ability to implement price increases or acquire assets or businesses, may limit the manner in which the Company conducts its business or otherwise may have a negative impact on its ability to generate revenues, earnings and cash flows.

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16.Scrutiny of the Company’s businesses and the industries in which it operates by governmental entities and others could adversely affect the Company

The real estate settlement services industry, an industry in which the Company generates a substantial portion of its revenue and earnings, is subject to continuous scrutiny by regulators, legislators, the media and plaintiffs’ attorneys.  Though often directed at the industry generally, these groups also focus their attention directly on the Company’s businesses from time to time.  In either case, this scrutiny may result in changes which could adversely affect the Company’s operations and, therefore, its financial condition and liquidity.

Governmental entities have routinely inquired into certain practices in the real estate settlement services industry to determine whether certain of the Company’s businesses or its competitors have violated applicable laws, which include, among others, the insurance codes of the various jurisdictions and the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act and similar state, federal and foreign laws.  The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (“CFPB”), for example, has actively utilized its regulatory authority over the mortgage and real estate markets by bringing enforcement actions against various participants in the mortgage and settlement industries and we expect that such enforcement activity will intensify.  Departments of insurance in the various states, the CFPB and other federal regulators and applicable regulators in international jurisdictions, either separately or together, also periodically conduct targeted inquiries into the practices of title insurance companies and other settlement services providers in their respective jurisdictions.  Currently, the Company is the subject of a number of regulatory inquiries.

Further, from time to time plaintiffs’ lawyers have targeted, and are expected to continue to target, the Company and other members of the Company’s industry with lawsuits claiming legal violations or other wrongful conduct.  These lawsuits often involve large groups of plaintiffs and claims for substantial damages.  These types of inquiries or proceedings have from time to time resulted, and may in the future result, in findings of a violation of the law or other wrongful conduct and the payment of fines or damages or the imposition of restrictions on the Company’s conduct.  This could impact the Company’s operations and financial condition.  Moreover, these laws and standards of conduct often are ambiguous and, thus, it may be difficult to ensure compliance.  This ambiguity may force the Company to mitigate its risk by settling claims or by ending practices that generate revenues, earnings and cash flows.  Currently the Company is a party to a number of class action lawsuits.

 

17.

Regulation of title insurance rates could adversely affect the Company

Title insurance rates are subject to extensive regulation, which varies from state to state.  In many states the approval of the applicable state insurance regulator is required prior to implementing a rate change.  These regulations could hinder the Company’s ability to promptly adapt to changing market dynamics through price adjustments, which could adversely affect its results of operations, particularly in a rapidly declining market.

18.Changes in certain laws and regulations, and in the regulatory environment in which the Company operates, could adversely affect the Company

Federal and state officials are discussing various potential changes to laws and regulations that could impact the Company’s businesses, including the reform of government-sponsored enterprises such as the Federal National Mortgage Association (Fannie Mae) and the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation (Freddie Mac) and additional data privacy regulations, among others.  Changes in these areas, and more generally in the regulatory environment in which the Company and its customers operate, could adversely impact the volume of mortgage originations in the United States and the Company’s competitive position and results of operations.  In addition, in connection with the coronavirus pandemic, the Company and generally its agents have been deemed in most areas an essential business and have been permitted to operate.  A change in this determination, particularly in jurisdictions where the Company generates a large portion of its revenues, could adversely impact the Company’s businesses.

 

19.

Recent and pending privacy and data protection laws and regulations could adversely affect the Company

An increasing number of federal, state, and international laws and regulations apply to the collection, use, retention, protection, disclosure, transfer, and other processing of personal data, including the California Consumer Privacy Act, the California Privacy Rights Act and the European Union General Data Protection Regulation.  The effects of these privacy and data protection laws, including the cost of compliance and required changes in the manner in which the Company conducts its business, are not fully known and are potentially significant, and the failure to comply could adversely affect the Company.  The Company has incurred costs to comply with these laws and to respond to inquiries about its compliance with them.

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FINANCIAL RISK FACTORS

 

20.

Failures at financial institutions at which the Company deposits funds could adversely affect the Company

The Company deposits substantial funds in financial institutions.  These funds include amounts owned by third parties, such as escrow deposits and like-kind exchange deposits.  Should one or more of the financial institutions at which deposits are maintained fail, there is no guarantee that the Company would recover the funds deposited, whether through Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation coverage or otherwise.  In the event of any such failure, the Company also could be held liable for the funds owned by third parties.

 

21.

Unfavorable economic or other conditions could cause the Company to write off a portion of its goodwill and other intangible assets

The Company performs an impairment test of the carrying value of goodwill and other indefinite-lived intangible assets annually in the fourth quarter, or sooner if circumstances indicate a possible impairment.  Finite-lived intangible assets are subject to impairment tests on a periodic basis.  Factors that may be considered in connection with this review include, without limitation, underperformance relative to historical or projected future operating results, reductions in the Company’s stock price and market capitalization, increased cost of capital and negative macroeconomic, industry and company-specific trends.  These and other factors could lead to a conclusion that goodwill or other intangible assets are impaired, in which case the Company would be required to write off the portion believed to be impaired.  In the third quarter of 2020, the Company committed to a plan to sell its property and casualty insurance business, which triggered goodwill and other intangible assets impairment tests.  Based on the results of the impairment tests, the Company recorded pretax impairment losses to goodwill and other intangible assets of $34.2 million and $3.2 million, respectively, for the third quarter of 2020. Total goodwill and other intangible assets reflected on the Company’s consolidated balance sheet as of December 31, 2020 are $1.6 billion.  Any substantial goodwill and other intangible asset impairments that may be required could have a material adverse effect on the Company’s results of operations and financial condition.

 

22.

Uncertainty from the expected discontinuance of LIBOR and transition to any other interest rate benchmark may affect the Company’s cost of capital and net investment income

In July 2017, the U.K. Financial Conduct Authority announced that it intends to stop persuading or compelling banks to submit LIBOR rates after 2021, which is expected to result in these widely used reference rates no longer being available.  The Company has exposure to LIBOR-based financial instruments, such as LIBOR-based securities held in its investment portfolio.  Borrowings under the Company’s $700.0 million senior unsecured credit facility and some of its warehouse credit facilities also are LIBOR-based, although each allows for the use of an unspecified alternative benchmark rate if LIBOR is no longer available.  Potential changes to LIBOR, as well as uncertainty related to such potential changes and the establishment of any alternative reference rate, may adversely affect the Company’s cost of capital and the market for LIBOR-based securities, which could have an adverse impact on the earnings from or value of the Company’s investment portfolio.  At this time, the Company cannot predict the overall effect of the modification or discontinuation of LIBOR or the establishment of any alternative benchmark rate.

 

23.

The Company’s investment portfolio is subject to certain risks and could experience losses

The Company maintains a substantial investment portfolio, primarily consisting of fixed income debt securities.  The investment portfolio also includes adjustable-rate debt securities, common and preferred stock, as well as money-market and other short-term investments. Securities in the Company’s investment portfolio are subject to certain economic and financial market risks, such as credit risk, interest rate (including call, prepayment and extension) risk and/or liquidity risk.  The risk of loss associated with the portfolio is increased during periods of instability in credit markets and economic conditions, including during the current pandemic.  Debt and equity securities are carried at fair value on the Company’s balance sheet.  Changes in the fair value of debt securities is recorded as a component of accumulated other comprehensive income/loss on the balance sheet.  For debt securities in an unrealized loss position, where the loss is determined to be due to credit-related factors, the Company records the loss in earnings.  Changes in the fair value of equity securities are recognized in earnings.  Changes in the fair value of securities in the Company’s investment portfolio have had an adverse impact on the Company and could have a material adverse effect on the Company’s results of operations, statutory surplus, financial condition and cash flow.

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24.

Actual claims experience could materially vary from the expected claims experience reflected in the Company’s reserve for incurred but not reported claims

The Company maintains a reserve for incurred but not reported (“IBNR”) claims pertaining to its title, escrow and other insurance and guarantee products.  The majority of this reserve pertains to title insurance policies, which are long-duration contracts with the majority of the claims reported within the first few years following the issuance of the policy.  Generally, 70% to 80% of claim amounts become known in the first six years of the policy life, and the majority of IBNR reserves relate to the six most recent policy years.  Changes in expected ultimate losses and corresponding loss rates for recent policy years are considered likely and could result in a material adjustment to the IBNR reserves.  Based on historical experience, management believes a 50 basis point change to the loss rates for recent policy years, positive or negative, is reasonably likely given the long duration nature of a title insurance policy.  In uncertain economic times, such as those currently being experienced as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, an even larger change is more likely.  As examples, if the expected ultimate losses for each of the last six policy years increased or decreased by 50 basis points, the resulting impact on the Company’s IBNR reserve would be an increase or decrease, as the case may be, of $134.3 million, and if expected ultimate losses for those same years were to fluctuate by 100 basis points, the resulting impact would be $268.5 million.  A material change in expected ultimate losses and corresponding loss rates for older policy years is also possible, particularly for policy years with loss ratios exceeding historical norms.  The estimates made by management in determining the appropriate level of IBNR reserves could ultimately prove to be materially different from actual claims experience.

Changes in laws or regulations impacting real estate, particularly when applied retroactively, may cause a material change in expected ultimate losses and corresponding loss rates for recent and/or older policy years.  For example, the 2020 United States Supreme Court decision in McGirt v. Oklahoma calls into question the governing authority for certain real estate-related matters in Native American reservations once thought to have been disestablished.  To the extent the Company, in those areas, underwrote title insurance policies or closed real estate transactions in conformity with authority that ultimately proves inapplicable, expected ultimate losses arising from those policies and transactions could change materially and could result in a material change to loss rates. 

 

25.

As a holding company, the Company depends on distributions from its subsidiaries, and if distributions from its subsidiaries are materially impaired, the Company’s ability to declare and pay dividends may be adversely affected; in addition, insurance and other regulations limit the amount of dividends, loans and advances available from the Company’s insurance subsidiaries

The Company is a holding company whose primary assets are investments in its operating subsidiaries.  The Company’s ability to pay dividends is dependent on the ability of its subsidiaries to pay dividends or repay funds.  If the Company’s operating subsidiaries are not able to pay dividends or repay funds, the Company may not be able to fulfill parent company obligations and/or declare and pay dividends to its stockholders.  Moreover, pursuant to insurance and other regulations under which the Company’s insurance subsidiaries operate, the amount of dividends, loans and advances available is limited.  As of December 31, 2020, under such regulations, the maximum amount available in 2021 from these insurance subsidiaries, without prior approval from applicable regulators, was dividends of $555.4 million and loans and advances of $115.6 million.

GENERAL RISK FACTORS

 

26.

Certain provisions of the Company’s bylaws and certificate of incorporation may reduce the likelihood of any unsolicited acquisition proposal or potential change of control that the Company’s stockholders might consider favorable

The Company’s bylaws and certificate of incorporation contain provisions that could be considered “anti-takeover” provisions because they make it harder for a third-party to acquire the Company without the consent of the Company’s incumbent board of directors.  Under these provisions:

 

election of the Company’s board of directors is staggered such that only one-third of the directors are elected by the stockholders each year and the directors serve three year terms prior to reelection;

 

stockholders may not remove directors without cause, change the size of the board of directors or, except as may be provided for in the terms of preferred stock the Company issues in the future, fill vacancies on the board of directors;

 

stockholders may act only at stockholder meetings and not by written consent;

 

stockholders must comply with advance notice provisions for nominating directors or presenting other proposals at stockholder meetings; and

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the Company’s board of directors may without stockholder approval issue preferred shares and determine their rights and terms, including voting rights, or adopt a stockholder rights plan.

While the Company believes that they are appropriate, these provisions, which may only be amended by the affirmative vote of the holders of approximately 67% of the Company’s issued voting shares, could have the effect of discouraging an unsolicited acquisition proposal or delaying, deferring or preventing a change of control transaction that might involve a premium price or otherwise be considered favorably by the Company’s stockholders.

 

Item 1B.

Unresolved Staff Comments

Not applicable.

 

Item 2.

Properties

Each of our business segments uses our executive offices in Santa Ana, California.  This office campus consists of five office buildings, a technology center and a two-story parking structure, totaling approximately 490,000 square feet.  Three office buildings, totaling approximately 210,000 square feet, and the fixtures thereto and underlying land, are subject to a deed of trust and security agreement securing payment of a promissory note evidencing a loan made in October 2003, to our principal title insurance subsidiary in the original sum of $55 million.  This loan is payable in monthly installments of principal and interest, is fully amortizing and matures November 1, 2023.  The outstanding principal balance of this loan was $12.0 million as of December 31, 2020.

The office facilities we occupy are, in all material respects, in good condition and adequate for their intended use.

 

Item 3.

The Company and its subsidiaries are parties to a number of non-ordinary course lawsuits.  These lawsuits frequently are similar in nature to other lawsuits pending against the Company’s competitors.

For those non-ordinary course lawsuits where the Company has determined that a loss is both probable and reasonably estimable, a liability representing the best estimate of the Company’s financial exposure based on known facts has been recorded.  Actual losses may materially differ from the amounts recorded.

It is, however, often not possible to assess the probability of loss.  Lawsuits that are putative class actions require a plaintiff to satisfy a number of procedural requirements before proceeding to trial.  These requirements include, among others, demonstration to a court that the law proscribes in some manner the Company’s activities, the making of factual allegations sufficient to suggest that the Company’s activities exceeded the limits of the law and a determination by the court—known as class certification—that the law permits a group of individuals to pursue the case together as a class.  In certain instances, the Company may also be able to compel the plaintiff to arbitrate its claim on an individual basis.  If these procedural requirements are not met, either the lawsuit cannot proceed or, as is the case with class certification or compelled arbitration, the plaintiffs lose the financial incentive to proceed with the case (or the amount at issue effectively becomes de minimis).  Frequently, a court’s determination as to these procedural requirements is subject to appeal to a higher court.  As a result of, among other factors, ambiguities and inconsistencies in the laws applicable to the Company’s business and the uniqueness of the factual issues presented in any given lawsuit, the Company often cannot determine the probability of loss until a court has finally determined that a plaintiff has satisfied applicable procedural requirements.

Furthermore, for putative class actions, it is often impossible to estimate the possible loss or a range of loss amounts, even where the Company has determined that a loss is reasonably possible.  Generally class actions involve a large number of people and the effort to determine which people satisfy the requirements to become plaintiffs—or class members—is often time consuming and burdensome.  Moreover, these lawsuits raise complex factual issues which result in uncertainty as to their outcome and, ultimately, make it difficult for the Company to estimate the amount of damages which a plaintiff might successfully prove.  In addition, many of the Company’s businesses are regulated by various federal, state, local and foreign governmental agencies and are subject to numerous statutory guidelines.  These regulations and statutory guidelines often are complex, inconsistent or ambiguous, which results in additional uncertainty as to the outcome of a given lawsuit—including the amount of damages a plaintiff might be afforded—or makes it difficult to analogize experience in one case or jurisdiction to another case or jurisdiction.

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Most of the non-ordinary course lawsuits to which the Company and its subsidiaries are parties challenge practices in the Company’s title insurance business, though a limited number of cases also pertain to the Company’s other businesses.  These lawsuits include, among others, cases alleging, among other assertions, that the Company or one of its subsidiaries improperly charged fees for products and services, improperly performed debt collection practices, improperly handled property and casualty claims and gave items of value to builders as inducements to refer business in violation of certain laws, such as consumer protection laws and laws generally prohibiting unfair business practices, and certain obligations, including:

 

Antao Properties LLC vs. First American Title Insurance Company, filed on November 6, 2019 and pending in the United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida,

 

Seymour vs. First American Title Insurance Company, et al., filed on January 12, 2021 and pending in the Superior Court of the State of California, County of Santa Barbara,

 

Tenefufu vs. First American Specialty Insurance Company, filed on June 1, 2017 and pending in the Superior Court of the State of California, County of Sacramento, and

 

Wilmot vs. First American Financial Corporation, et al., filed on April 20, 2007 and pending in the Superior Court of the State of California, County of Los Angeles.

These lawsuits are putative class actions for which a class has not been certified; however, the appellate court has remanded the Wilmot action back for certification of a subclass.  For the reasons described above, the Company has not yet been able to assess the probability of loss or estimate the possible loss or the range of loss.

The Company and/or its subsidiaries are also parties to consumer class actions and a securities class action in connection with the information security incident that occurred during the second quarter of 2019.  All of these lawsuits are putative class actions for which a class has not been certified.  For the reasons described above, the Company has not yet been able to assess the probability of loss or estimate the possible loss or the range of loss.

While some of the lawsuits described above may be material to the Company’s financial results in any particular period if an unfavorable outcome results, the Company does not believe that any of these lawsuits will have a material adverse effect on the Company’s overall financial condition, results of operations or cash flows.

In addition, the Company and its Board of Directors and certain executives are parties to a shareholder derivative action, Hollett vs. Gilmore, et al., filed on November 25, 2020 and pending in the United States District Court for the Central District of California.  The allegations arise out of the information security incident that occurred during the second quarter of 2019 and the resulting legal proceedings and disclosures made at the time of the incident. While the ultimate disposition is not yet determinable, the Company does not believe it will have a material adverse effect on the Company’s financial condition, results of operations or cash flows.

The Company also is a party to non-ordinary course lawsuits other than those described above.  With respect to these lawsuits, the Company has determined either that a loss is not reasonably possible or that the estimated loss or range of loss, if any, will not have a material adverse effect on the Company’s financial condition, results of operations or cash flows.

The Company’s title insurance, property and casualty insurance, home warranty, banking, thrift, trust and wealth management businesses are regulated by various federal, state and local governmental agencies.  Many of the Company’s other businesses operate within statutory guidelines.  Consequently, the Company may from time to time be subject to examination or investigation by such governmental agencies.  Currently, governmental agencies are examining or investigating certain of the Company’s operations. These exams and investigations include an inquiry by the New York Attorney General and the Massachusetts Attorney General into competitive practices in the title insurance industry.  With respect to matters where the Company has determined that a loss is both probable and reasonably estimable, the Company records a liability representing its best estimate of the financial exposure based on known facts.  While the ultimate disposition of each such exam or investigation is not yet determinable, the Company does not believe that individually or in the aggregate they will have a material adverse effect on the Company’s financial condition, results of operations or cash flows. Some of these exams or investigations could, however, result in changes to the Company’s business practices which could ultimately have a material adverse impact on the Company’s financial condition, results of operations or cash flows.

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Furthermore, these exams and investigations include two investigations initiated in connection with the information security incident that occurred during the second quarter of 2019, one being conducted by the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) enforcement staff and the other by the New York Department of Financial Services.  The SEC enforcement staff is questioning the adequacy of disclosures the Company made at the time of the incident and the adequacy of its disclosure controls.  In September 2020, the Company received a Wells Notice informing the Company that the enforcement staff has made a preliminary determination to recommend a filing of an enforcement action by the SEC against the Company.   The Company believes that its disclosures and disclosure controls complied with the securities laws and has availed itself of the opportunity to provide a response to convince the SEC that an enforcement action is inappropriate under the circumstances.  The New York Department of Financial Services has alleged violations of its cyber security requirements for financial services companies and has filed a statement of charges and scheduled an administrative hearing in connection therewith.  While the ultimate dispositions of the SEC and New York Department of Financial Services matters are not yet determinable, the Company does not believe that individually or in the aggregate they will have a material adverse effect on the Company’s financial condition, results of operations or cash flows.

The Company’s Canadian operations provide certain services to lenders which it believes to be exempt from excise tax under applicable Canadian tax laws.  However, in October 2014, the Canadian taxing authority provided internal guidance that the services in question should be subject to the excise tax.  During July 2019, the Company received an assessment from the Canadian taxing authority.  The amount of the assessment is $15.7 million, which is based on the exchange rate as of, and includes interest charges through, December 31, 2020. As the Company does not believe that the services in question are subject to excise tax, it intends to avail itself of avenues of appeal, and it believes it is reasonably likely that the Company will prevail on the merits.  Accordingly, the Company filed a notice of appeal with the Canadian taxing authority in March 2020.  Based on the current facts and circumstances, the Company does not believe a loss is probable, therefore no liability has been recorded.

The Company and its subsidiaries also are involved in numerous ongoing routine legal and regulatory proceedings related to their operations.  With respect to each of these proceedings, the Company has determined either that a loss is not reasonably possible or that the estimated loss or range of loss, if any, is not material to the consolidated financial statements as a whole.

Item 4.

Mine Safety Disclosures

Not applicable.

 

 

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PART II

 

Item 5.

Market for Registrant’s Common Equity, Related Stockholder Matters and Issuer Purchases of Equity Securities

Common Stock Market Prices and Dividends

The Company’s common stock trades on the New York Stock Exchange (ticker symbol FAF).  The approximate number of record holders of common stock on February 9, 2021, was 2,200.

In January 2021, the Company’s board of directors declared a cash dividend of $0.46 per share.  We expect that the Company will continue to pay quarterly cash dividends at or above the current level.  The timing, declaration and payment of future dividends, however, falls within the discretion of the Company’s board of directors and will depend upon many factors, including the Company’s financial condition and earnings, the capital requirements of our businesses, restrictions imposed by applicable law and any other factors the board of directors deems relevant from time to time. In addition, the ability to pay dividends also is potentially affected by the restrictions described in Note 3 Statutory Restrictions on Investments and Stockholders’ Equity to the consolidated financial statements included in “Item 8.  Financial Statements and Supplementary Data” of Part II of this report.

Purchases of Equity Securities by the Issuer and Affiliated Purchasers

Pursuant to the share repurchase program initially announced by the Company on March 16, 2011 and expanded on March 11, 2014, which program was terminated on November 3, 2020, the Company was authorized to repurchase up to $250.0 million of the Company’s issued and outstanding common stock.  Pursuant to the share repurchase program initially announced by the Company on November 4, 2020, which program has no expiration date, the Company may repurchase up to $300.0 million of the Company’s issued and outstanding common stock.  The following table describes purchases by the Company under the share repurchase programs that settled during each period set forth in the table.  Prices in column (b) include commissions.  Cumulatively, as of November 3, 2020, the termination date of the program initially announced in March 2014, the Company had repurchased $169.0 million (including commissions) of its shares under the program.  Cumulatively, as of December 31, 2020, the Company had repurchased $58.0 million (including commissions) of its shares authorized under the November 2020 program and had the authority to repurchase an additional $242.0 million (including commissions) under that program.

 

Period

(a)
Total
Number of
Shares
Purchased

 

 

(b)
Average
Price Paid
per Share

 

 

(c)
Total Number of
Shares
Purchased as Part
of Publicly
Announced Plans
or Programs

 

 

(d)
Maximum
Approximate Dollar
Value of Shares
that May Yet Be
Purchased Under
the Plans or
Programs

 

October 1, 2020 to October 31, 2020

  

172,925

 

 

$

47.44

 

 

  

172,925

 

 

$

84,502,964

  

November 1, 2020 to November 30, 2020

 

676,272

 

 

 

48.33

 

 

  

676,272

 

 

 

270,843,728

 

December 1, 2020 to December 31, 2020

 

568,270

  

  

 

50.77

  

  

 

568,270

  

  

 

241,994,465

 

Total

 

1,417,467

 

 

$

49.20

 

 

 

1,417,467

 

 

$

241,994,465

 

Unregistered Sales of Equity Securities

During the year ended December 31, 2020, the Company did not issue any unregistered common stock.

26


 

Stock Performance Graph

The following performance graph and related information shall not be deemed “soliciting material” or “filed” with the SEC, nor shall such information be incorporated by reference into any future filing under the Securities Act of 1933 or the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, each as amended, except to the extent that it is specifically incorporated by reference into such filing.

The following graph compares the cumulative total stockholder return on the Company’s common stock with the corresponding cumulative total returns of the Russell 1000 Index and an industry peer group for the period from December 31, 2015 through December 31, 2020.  The comparison assumes an investment of $100 on December 31, 2015 and reinvestment of dividends. This historical performance is not indicative of future performance.

Comparison of Cumulative Total Return

 

First American

Financial Corporation
(FAF) (1)

 

 

Custom Peer
Group (1)(2)

 

 

Russell 1000 Index (1)

 

December 31, 2015

$

100

 

 

$

100

 

 

$

100

 

December 31, 2016

$

105

 

 

$

119

 

 

$

112

 

December 31, 2017

$

166

 

 

$

137

 

 

$

136

 

December 31, 2018

$

136

 

 

$

136

 

 

$

130

 

December 31, 2019

$

184

 

 

$

179

 

 

$

171

 

December 31, 2020

$

168

 

 

$

164

 

 

$

206

 

 

(1)

As calculated by Bloomberg Financial Services including reinvestment of dividends.

(2)

The custom peer group consists of the following companies:  American Financial Group, Inc.; Assurant, Inc.; Axis Capital Holdings Limited; Cincinnati Financial Corporation; Everest Re Group, Ltd.; Fidelity National Financial, Inc.; Genworth Financial, Inc.; The Hanover Insurance Group, Inc.; Kemper Corporation; Mercury General Corporation; Old Republic International Corp.; and W.R. Berkley Corporation each of which operates in a business similar to a business operated by the Company.  The compensation committee of the Company utilizes the compensation practices of these companies as benchmarks in setting the compensation of its executive officers.

 

27


 

 

Item 6.

Selected Financial Data

The selected historical consolidated financial data for First American Financial Corporation (the “Company”) as of and for each of the five years in the period ended December 31, 2020, have been derived from the Company’s consolidated financial statements.  The selected historical consolidated financial data should be read in conjunction with “Item 8. Financial Statements and Supplementary Data,” “Item 1—Business,” and “Item 7—Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations.”

First American Financial Corporation and Subsidiary Companies

 

Year Ended December 31,

 

 

2020

 

 

2019

 

 

2018

 

 

2017

 

 

2016

 

 

(in thousands, except percentages, per share amounts and employee data)

 

Revenues

$

7,086,667

 

 

$

6,202,061

 

 

$

5,747,844

 

 

$

5,772,363

 

 

$

5,575,846

 

Net income

$

700,496

 

 

$

709,848

 

 

$

475,898

 

 

$

421,863

 

 

$

343,476

 

Net income (loss) attributable to noncontrolling
interests

$

4,067

 

 

$

2,438

 

 

$

1,402

 

 

$

(1,186

)

 

$

483

 

Net income attributable to the Company

$

696,429

 

 

$

707,410

 

 

$

474,496

 

 

$

423,049

 

 

$

342,993

 

Total assets

$

12,795,988

 

 

$

11,519,167

 

 

$

10,630,635

 

 

$

9,573,222

 

 

$

8,831,777

 

Notes and contracts payable

$

1,010,756

 

 

$

728,232

 

 

$

732,019

 

 

$

732,810

 

 

$

736,693

 

Stockholders’ equity

$

4,909,972

 

 

$

4,420,484

 

 

$

3,741,881

 

 

$

3,479,955

 

 

$

3,008,179

 

Return on average stockholders’ equity

 

14.9

%

 

 

17.3

%

 

 

13.1

%

 

 

13.0

%

 

 

11.9

Dividends on common shares

$

198,663

 

 

$

188,440

 

 

$

178,487

 

 

$

159,284

 

 

$

131,541

 

Per share of common stock (Note A)—

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Net income attributable to the Company:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Basic

$

6.18

 

 

$

6.26

 

 

$

4.21

 

 

$

3.79

 

 

$

3.10

 

Diluted

$

6.16

 

 

$

6.22

 

 

$

4.19

 

 

$

3.76

 

 

$

3.09

 

Stockholders’ equity

$

44.49

 

 

$

39.30

 

 

$

33.56

 

 

$

31.37

 

 

$

27.36

 

Cash dividends declared

$

1.78

 

 

$

1.68

 

 

$

1.60

 

 

$

1.44

 

 

$

1.20

 

Number of common shares outstanding

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Weighted-average during the year:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Basic

 

112,746

 

 

 

113,080

 

 

 

112,613

 

 

 

111,668

 

 

 

110,548

 

Diluted

 

113,020

 

 

 

113,655

 

 

 

113,279

 

 

 

112,435

 

 

 

111,156

 

End of year

 

110,353

 

 

 

112,476

 

 

 

111,496

 

 

 

110,925

 

 

 

109,944

 

Other Operating Data:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Title orders opened (Note B)

 

1,471

 

 

 

1,093

 

 

 

982

 

 

 

1,069

 

 

 

1,281

 

Title orders closed (Note B)

 

1,044

 

 

 

796

 

 

 

731

 

 

 

824

 

 

 

958

 

Number of employees (Note C)

 

19,597

 

 

 

18,412

 

 

 

18,251

 

 

 

18,705

 

 

 

19,531

 

Note A—Per share information relating to net income is based on weighted-average number of shares outstanding for the years presented.  Per share information relating to stockholders’ equity is based on shares outstanding at the end of each year.

Note B—Title order volumes are those processed by the direct domestic title operations of the Company and do not include orders processed by agents.

Note C—Number of employees is based on actual employee headcount.


28


 

 

Item 7.

Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations

CERTAIN STATEMENTS IN THIS ANNUAL REPORT ON FORM 10-K ARE FORWARD-LOOKING STATEMENTS WITHIN THE MEANING OF SECTION 27A OF THE SECURITIES ACT OF 1933, AS AMENDED, AND SECTION 21E OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934, AS AMENDED.  THESE FORWARD-LOOKING STATEMENTS MAY CONTAIN THE WORDS “BELIEVE,” “ANTICIPATE,” “EXPECT,” “PLAN,” “PREDICT,” “ESTIMATE,” “PROJECT,” “WILL BE,” “WILL CONTINUE,” “WILL LIKELY RESULT,” OR OTHER SIMILAR WORDS AND PHRASES.

RISKS AND UNCERTAINTIES EXIST THAT MAY CAUSE RESULTS TO DIFFER MATERIALLY FROM THOSE SET FORTH IN THESE FORWARD-LOOKING STATEMENTS.  FACTORS THAT COULD CAUSE THE ANTICIPATED RESULTS TO DIFFER FROM THOSE DESCRIBED IN THE FORWARD-LOOKING STATEMENTS INCLUDE THE FACTORS SET FORTH ON PAGES 3-4 OF THIS ANNUAL REPORT.  THE FORWARD-LOOKING STATEMENTS SPEAK ONLY AS OF THE DATE THEY ARE MADE.  THE COMPANY DOES NOT UNDERTAKE TO UPDATE FORWARD-LOOKING STATEMENTS TO REFLECT CIRCUMSTANCES OR EVENTS THAT OCCUR AFTER THE DATE THE FORWARD-LOOKING STATEMENTS ARE MADE.

This Management’s Discussion and Analysis contains the financial measure adjusted debt to capitalization ratio that is not presented in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles (“GAAP”), as it excludes the effect of secured financings payable.  The Company is presenting this non-GAAP financial measure because it provides the Company’s management and readers of this Annual Report on Form 10-K with additional insight into the financial leverage of the Company.  The Company does not intend for this non-GAAP financial measure to be a substitute for any GAAP financial information.  In this Annual Report on Form 10-K, this non-GAAP financial measure has been presented with, and reconciled to, the most directly comparable GAAP financial measure.  Readers of this Annual Report on Form 10-K should use this non-GAAP financial measure only in conjunction with the comparable GAAP financial measure.

Principles of Consolidation

The consolidated financial statements have been prepared in accordance with GAAP and reflect the consolidated operations of the Company.  The consolidated financial statements include the accounts of First American Financial Corporation and all controlled subsidiaries.  All significant intercompany transactions and balances have been eliminated. Equity investments in which the Company exercises significant influence but does not control and is not the primary beneficiary, are accounted for using the equity method of accounting.  Equity investments in which the Company does not exercise significant influence over the investee and without readily determinable fair values are accounted for at cost, less impairment, and are adjusted up or down for any observable price changes.

Reportable Segments

The Company consists of the following reportable segments and a corporate function:

 

The Company’s title insurance and services segment issues title insurance policies on residential and commercial property in the United States and offers similar or related products and services internationally.  This segment also provides closing and/or escrow services; accommodates tax-deferred exchanges of real estate; provides products, services and solutions designed to mitigate risk or otherwise facilitate real estate transactions; maintains, manages and provides access to title plant data and records; provides appraisals and other valuation-related products and services; provides lien release, document custodial and default-related products and services; and provides warehouse lending services and banking,  trust and wealth management services.  The Company, through its principal title insurance subsidiary and such subsidiary’s affiliates, transacts its title insurance business through a network of direct operations and agents.  Through this network, the Company issues policies in the 49 states that permit the issuance of title insurance policies, the District of Columbia and certain United States territories.  The Company also offers title insurance, closing services and similar or related products and services, either directly or through third parties in other countries, including Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia, South Korea and various other established and emerging markets.

29


 

 

 

The Company’s specialty insurance segment issues property and casualty insurance policies and sells home warranty products.  The property and casualty insurance business provides insurance coverage to residential homeowners and renters for liability losses and typical hazards such as fire, theft, vandalism and other types of property damage.  This business is licensed to issue policies in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.  The majority of policy liability is in the western United States, including approximately 59% in California. The home warranty business provides residential service contracts that cover residential systems, such as heating and air conditioning systems, and certain appliances against failures that occur as the result of normal usage during the coverage period.  This business currently operates in 35 states and the District of Columbia.  

In the third quarter of 2020, the Company initiated a plan to sell the property and casualty insurance business.  In the fourth quarter of 2020, the Company, as a result of the sale process, determined to pursue a book transfer rather than a sale. In January 2021, the Company entered into book transfer agreements with two third-party insurers, which will provide qualifying agents and customers of the Company an opportunity to transfer their policies.  The Company expects the transfers to be completed by the end of the third quarter of 2022.  The Company will seek to non-renew policies that are not transferred.

The corporate function consists primarily of certain financing facilities as well as the corporate services that support the Company’s business operations.

Critical Accounting Estimates

The preparation of financial statements in accordance with GAAP requires the application of accounting policies that often involve a significant degree of judgment.  The Company’s management considers the accounting policies described below to be the most dependent on the application of estimates and assumptions in preparing the Company’s consolidated financial statements.  See Note 1 Basis of Presentation and Significant Accounting Policies to the consolidated financial statements for a more detailed description of the Company’s significant accounting policies.

Provision for policy losses.    The Company provides for title insurance losses through a charge to expense when the related premium revenue is recognized.  The amount charged to expense is generally determined by applying a rate (the loss provision rate) to total title insurance premiums and escrow fees.  The Company’s management estimates the loss provision rate at the beginning of each year and reassesses the rate quarterly to ensure that the resulting incurred but not reported (“IBNR”) loss reserve and known claims reserve included in the Company’s consolidated balance sheets together reflect management’s best estimate of the total costs required to settle all IBNR and known claims.  If the ending IBNR reserve is not considered adequate, an adjustment is recorded.

The process of assessing the loss provision rate and the resulting IBNR reserve involves an evaluation of the results of an in-house actuarial review.  The Company’s in-house actuary performs a reserve analysis utilizing generally accepted actuarial methods that incorporate cumulative historical claims experience and information provided by in-house claims and operations personnel.  Current economic and business trends are also reviewed and used in the reserve analysis.  These include conditions in the real estate and mortgage markets, changes in residential and commercial real estate values, and changes in the levels of defaults and foreclosures that may affect claims levels and patterns of emergence, as well as any company-specific factors that may be relevant to past and future claims experience.  Results from the analysis include, but are not limited to, a range of IBNR reserve estimates and a single point estimate for IBNR as of the balance sheet date.

For recent policy years at early stages of development (generally the last three years), IBNR is generally estimated using a combination of expected loss rate and multiplicative loss development factor calculations.  For more mature policy years, IBNR generally is estimated using multiplicative loss development factor calculations.  The expected loss rate method estimates IBNR by applying an expected loss rate to total title insurance premiums and escrow fees and by adjusting for policy year maturity using estimated loss development patterns.  Multiplicative loss development factor calculations estimate IBNR by applying factors derived from loss development patterns to losses realized to date.  The expected loss rate and loss development patterns are based on historical experience and the relationship of the history to the applicable policy years.

The Company’s management uses the IBNR point estimate from the in-house actuary’s analysis and other relevant information concerning claims to determine what it considers to be the best estimate of the total amount required for the IBNR reserve.

30


 

The volume and timing of title insurance claims are subject to cyclical influences from both the real estate and mortgage markets.  Title policies issued to lenders constitute a large portion of the Company’s title insurance volume.  These policies insure lenders against losses on mortgage loans due to title defects in the collateral property.  Even if an underlying title defect exists that could result in a claim, often the lender must realize an actual loss, or at least be likely to realize an actual loss, for a title insurance liability to exist.  As a result, title insurance claims exposure is sensitive to lenders’ losses on mortgage loans and is affected in turn by external factors that affect mortgage loan losses, particularly macroeconomic factors.

A general decline in real estate prices can expose lenders to greater risk of losses on mortgage loans, as loan-to-value ratios increase and defaults and foreclosures increase.  Title insurance claims exposure for a given policy year is also affected by the quality of mortgage loan underwriting during the corresponding origination year.  The Company believes that the sensitivity of claims to external conditions in the real estate and mortgage markets is an inherent feature of title insurance’s business economics that applies broadly to the title insurance industry.

Title insurance policies are long-duration contracts with the majority of the claims reported to the Company within the first few years following the issuance of the policy.  Generally, 70% to 80% of claim amounts become known in the first six years of the policy life, and the majority of IBNR reserves relate to the six most recent policy years.  Changes in expected ultimate losses and corresponding loss rates for recent policy years are considered likely and could result in a material adjustment to the IBNR reserves.  Based on historical experience, management believes a 50 basis point change to the loss rates for recent policy years, positive or negative, is reasonably likely given the long duration nature of a title insurance policy.  In uncertain economic times, such as those currently being experienced as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, an even