For the purposes of this chapter, the following terms shall have the following meanings:
(1) ABSTRACT OF TITLE. A compilation or summary of all instruments of public record of whatever kind or nature which in any manner affect title to a specified parcel of real property.
(2) BUSINESS ENTITY. A domestic entity properly formed and existing under Title 10A.
(3) COMMISSIONER. The Commissioner of the Alabama Department of Insurance.
(4) INDIVIDUAL. A natural person.
(5) NAIC. The National Association of Insurance Commissioners, its subsidiaries and affiliates, and any successor thereof.
(6) OPINION OF TITLE. A written expression of the status of title, including, but not limited to, the validity or invalidity thereof, based upon an examination by an attorney at law, who is licensed to practice law in this state, of instruments of public record or an abstract thereof affecting title to a specified parcel of real property to ascertain the history and present condition of title to such real property as to its ownership and status with respect to liens, encumbrances, clouds, and defects.
(7) PERSON. An individual or business entity.
(8) PRELIMINARY REPORT, COMMITMENT, OR BINDER. Reports furnished in connection with an application or request for title insurance and are offers to issue a title insurance policy subject to certain requirements and exceptions stated in the report, commitment, or binder and such other matters as are incorporated by reference therein.
(9) PREMIUM. Fees charged for assuming liability and risk under a title insurance policy. For the purposes of this chapter, "premium" shall include any amount retained by or paid to an agent under an agreement between the agent and the title insurance company. For the purposes of this chapter, "premium" shall not include expenses for the performance of services such as abstracting, searching, and examining titles or obtaining a title opinion; fees for document preparation; fees for handling escrows, settlements, or closings; fees incurred to cure defects in the title; and fees incident to the issuance of a commitment to insure title or a title insurance policy, including, but not limited to, the costs of reinsurance.
(10) TITLE AGENT or AGENT. a. Any person who is authorized in writing by a title insurer to perform the following:
1. Solicit title insurance business.
2. Collect premiums.
3. Determine insurability in accordance with underwriting rules, standards, and guidelines prescribed by the title insurer.
4. Issue title insurance commitments, policies, or endorsements of the title insurer.
b. The term "title agent" or "agent" does not include the officers or employees of a title insurer.
c. The term "title agent" or "agent" does not include attorneys licensed by the Alabama State Bar. Licensed attorneys shall be exempt from any licensure or regulation pursuant to this chapter.
Notwithstanding the foregoing exemption or any other provision of law to the contrary, in order to be entitled to this exemption, an attorney shall be a member in good standing of the Alabama State Bar and is prohibited from charging any premium rate for any policy or contract of title insurance except in accordance with the filed premium rates that are in effect for the title insurer, which premium rates shall not be subject to rebate and the rebate of premiums to the insured is expressly prohibited.
d. Nothing in this chapter, including the exemption of licensed Alabama attorneys contained in paragraph c., is intended to, nor shall be deemed to, affect any action or activity by non-lawyers that is permitted under subsection (c) of Section 34-3-6.
(11) TITLE INSURANCE POLICY or POLICY. A contract insuring or indemnifying against loss or damage arising from any or all of the following existing on or before the date of the policy:
a. Defects in or liens or encumbrances on the insured title.
b. Unmarketability of the insured title.
c. Invalidity or unenforceability of liens or encumbrances on the property described in the policy.
d. Lack of priority of liens or encumbrances.
(12) TITLE INSURER or INSURER. A company organized under the laws of this state or licensed in this state for the purpose of transacting as insurer the business of title insurance, as defined in Section 27-5-10, and any foreign or alien title insurer licensed to be engaged in this state in the business of title insurance, as defined in Section 27-5-10.
(13) TITLE SEARCH or TITLE EXAMINATION. A search of the records in the office of the judge of probate in the county where the real property is situated through such period of time as is acceptable to the title insurer. The search of the public records relating to matters of title performed in connection with the issuance of a preliminary report, commitment, or binder shall be solely for the benefit of the title insurance company requested to issue its policy or policies of title insurance.