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I just read an article in “The American Surveyor” Vol. 7 Issue 8, pg 64 by Gary Kent, LS in which he is reporting on the changes to the ALTA requirements for 2011 and noticed one of the Table A check items will be the requirement for the Surveyor to have professional liability insurance. Does anyone else find that a bit disturbing? I think that having the ALTA/ASCM saying that what kind of insurance a company carries has something to do with survey standards is over stepping the purpose of the standard. Does anyone agree with me? And yes our company has insurance.

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  • Well, I have NEVER heard of anyone performing this high risk work without insurance.....and I routinely have to furnish my insurance information on probably half of them I do. What happened here is that there was enough "evolving" issues, probably a few judicial decisions and out of court settlements so the Title industry who are MUCH MUCH MORE organized so as to show a united front, sat down at the table with the NSPS just like they did in 2005 and "negotiated" each item line by line.

     

    I don't know about you, but neither the ACSM or NSPS have ever done anything for me unless it was by accident and I don't feel represented in even the smallest way by either of them. So, I have to ask...since the NSPS felt the ACSM was going in the wrong direction and so broke off from them, why isn't it called an ALTA/NSPS survey now? Here's a better one: why did the NSPS agree to something like this...or how about the "positional tolerance" requirement? Too many GIS pros in there I'm afraid...I'll have to continue to refrain from donating to them because of their apparent willingness to mollify and cowtow to the Title Insurers.

     

    I do like the fact from 2005 on, we are obligated AND REQUIRED to use their short, succinct certification. I WILL certify to additional certifications, but I place them as a Table "A" requirement AND CHARGE FOR IT!!!!! You should hear the clients screaming at them for the additional cost! When I show them the "requirement" under the ALTA standards, they take MY side of it! It's nice to not be on the bottom of the food chain sometimes.......

    • Timothy,

      I like your stand on the certification. I will take this advice into consideration.

      As for the insurance, we have also been required to provide proof of insurance on many projects. And no way would I ever run without it. But it should be an item left between the client and the surveyor. It should not be an ALTA/ASCM requirement. If it is on Table "A" of the optional requirements, then maybe it would be okay. That would be more between the client and the surveyor and could be negotiable as long as it did not put an insured minimum there.


      Thanks,

      Daryl N Penrod PLS
      • Yes Daryl, I'm sure you've run into those "home made" certifications that they produce at the last minute, a week after the survey is finished and they want you to make outrageous statements like "there are no apparent drainage problems on the property." (for this one, I required that we do a topographic survey including all underground drainage which almost doubled the price, so that requirement "went away")

         

        Then they say.."well, it's not going to close without our "in-house" certification which of course probably references the ALTA standards of 1992 or some such nonsense. Just place 1 line in your initial contract stating that the drawing will be certified as per current ALTA standards requirements, # copies you will furnish and that electronic submittals will be limited to PDF format only. That stops the lender and/or Title Company in their tracks. (You also DON'T have "give" an Engineer or Architect something 3 years down the road unannounced!)

        You inform them that there will be an additional charge of $xxx to review the certification and other charges may be applicable based on increased liability and be added to Table "A". Make SURE you send a cc email to your client with a quote of the ALTA certs that say "use this certification." Your phone will be ringing the next morning mysteriously cancelling the requirement as no one can really disagree with you. Alternately, the client may want you to proceed, so add whatever you feel like for liablility you probably already had anyway! Worst case scenario is you get an extra fee to "review" the silly thing, and the Title Company or lender ends up having to pay it because the client is mad at them, not you.

  • Pro17 Engineering - I agree with you, I don't believe it is within ALTA or NSPS's purview to mandate this for land surveying work. In fact, it looks like a way for the Title "INSURANCE" companies to minimize their exposure (risk.) I have always considered what my mentor told me on this subject - if you have deep pockets, then you WILL be sued. I work with attorneys as an expert witness and they regularly go after the professional with professional liability insurance.
  • I agree. It should not be listed on the Table "A" Optional Requirements. This is required information for some projects but should be left between the Surveyor and the Client, and not a part of ALTA survey requirements. Also, surveyors need to be cautious about the Certifications that some Title Insurance companies are requesting you put on your survey. Be careful what you certify to. Always stick to the standard certification on the ALTA requirements documents and modify where State law may apply.
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