American Land Title Association was founded in 1907, and is the national association of the abstract and title insurance industry. ALTA members search, review and insure land titles to protect real estate investors including home buyers and mortgage lenders.

Members of the association are in business in most counties across the nation. Nearly all title insurance underwriting companies hold ALTA membership, in addition to abstracters and title insurance agents. Over 2,000 abstract and title companies are Active members, ranging from small, one-county operations to large national title insurers. Associate members of ALTA may include those in such business and professional classifications as attorneys, builders, developers, lenders, real estate brokers, surveyors, consultants, educational institutions and related national trade associations.

ALTA members advocate safe and efficient transfer of real estate within the free enterprise system, and insist on high standards of land title evidencing and insuring in the public interest. Theirs is an industry based on risk elimination before insuring, which provides the insured with the best possible chance of avoiding land title problems. But title difficulties can and do occur, and members offer both owner's and lender's title insurance as effective safeguards.

For a one-time premium at the real estate closing, title insurance will identify title problems found in a title search of public records, will pay valid claims, and will pay for defending against an attack on title as insured.

ALTA is based in Washington, D.C., and serves as the national voice of the title industry. Members, staff and others representing the association are continually in communication with legislators, others in government, media, title Co. customers, consumers and others.

Among its many activities, ALTA regularly is in touch with Congress on legislative issues, and may join with one or more affiliated state title associations in a position on state legislation. ALTA is in regular contact with the National Association of Insurance Commissioners and works with its state title affiliates on regulatory matters as appropriate.

In addition, ALTA from time to time files amicus curiae briefs with the United States Supreme Court in cases of major importance to the land title industry.

The association develops the familiar ALTA title insurance forms used voluntarily by member insurers across the nation, and works to develop a better understanding of its industry among those who use and otherwise interface with land title services. Besides those previously mentioned, other primary functions of the association include education, liaison with appropriate national organizations, work to improve land title records, monitoring legislative and judicial developments, automation information, research, improvement of accounting practices, and offering group insurance to members.

ALTA publishes a magazine, a government relations newsletter, a "fact book" of title industry financial information, and numerous other types of literature. Current information on the industry is available through the Washington office of the association.

Professionals in the real estate market, as well as the home buying public, benefit considerably from the commitment to excellence that is routine in the work of ALTA members. Involvement by a title Co. often is though of as the catalyst that allows a real estate closing to proceed smoothly until completed. The particular nature of land title evidencing and insuring needs to be better understood by many Americans, and ALTA welcomes the opportunity to respond to inquires about its industry.