There’s no shortage of companies offering insurance or other services to protect your home from unexpected events. With all the offerings, it can be difficult to keep up with what you need, what’s nice to have, and what’s not worth it.
Home Title Lock is a monitoring service company that says they’ll “keep identity thieves from stealing your home’s equity.” But, they don’t actually offer any insurance against claims related to your home’s title.
We get a lot of questions about Home Title Lock in our Consumer Action Center. In this article, I’ll cover common questions about Home Title Lock and the better way to protect your home’s title.
- What Is Home Title Lock?
- What Is The Difference Between Home Title Lock and Owner’s Title Insurance?
- Do You Need Home Title Lock?
What Is Home Title Lock?
You may have seen commercials that talk about how thieves can steal your home’s title or deed. As a solution, Home Title Lock offers monitoring services to keep you informed of changes — including potential fraud — to your home’s title.
How Does Home Title Lock Work?
There are three key services that Home Title Lock offers their customers. The primary service is title monitoring. If changes are made to documents “that affect your property value or ownership,” Home Title Lock will alert you of those changes.
The second service is a title history report, which the company provides to show any previous activity on your home’s title. Finally — in the event of potential fraud — the company says “experts” are available to help you figure out what you can do about it.
How Much Does Home Title Lock Cost?
Home Title Lock is a subscription-based service. There are three payment options.
Monthly subscription: $19.95/month
Annual subscription: $199.00/year ($40 cheaper than paying month-to-month)
4-Year subscription: $796.00 (same cost as an annual subscription)
What Is The Difference Between Home Title Lock and Owner’s Title Insurance?
Although it’s sometimes referred to as “Home Title Lock Insurance,” Home Title Lock does not offer insurance. You can think of Home Title Lock as an alarm system for your home’s title. Instead of being alerted that someone’s trying to break into your home, you’ll be alerted if someone takes action against your home’s title.
While Home Title Lock can let you know that something has happened, there is no financial protection against real estate fraud.
With owner’s title insurance, however, there’s financial protection from your insurer. If — for example — someone attempts fraud or makes a case against your home because of something that happened before you bought it, owner’s title insurance can cover legal fees. I’ve written more about owner’s title insurance, which money expert Clark Howard recommends.
“Owner’s title insurance not only protects you from loss, it also requires the title company to defend you if your ownership is ever challenged.”
Do You Need Home Title Lock?
When you buy a home, there are many unexpected events to consider to get the best protections for your property. From homeowners insurance to flood insurance to owner’s title insurance and more — the cost of keeping your home safe can quickly add up.
So, is Home Title Lock another necessary expense for protection and peace of mind? While the company’s commercials might try to convince you that you need their service, it’s not necessary. Home Title Lock only tells you that something is going on that can affect your home’s title. But the service will not protect you against any related events.
“I wouldn’t pay — and I have not ever paid — for one of these subscription services.”
Not only would Clark skip this subscription, but he also knows a way you might be able to get similar services for free.
“Many counties now offer a notification system where — as the property owner of record — you’ll be notified when someone attempts an action against your title, such as taking out a loan,” Clark says. “So start with your county. If they have the notification service, sign up for that free service, and you won’t need this.”
Clark also recommends looking out for signs of title fraud.
“If you start getting weird mail from lenders and things like that, you know there’s monkey business going on, and you need to pay very close attention to that,” he says.
Title fraud is real, but Home Title Lock will not protect you against claims, liens or related events that challenge your ownership of your home. Home Title Lock is simply a monitoring service that can let you know when action has been taken against your title.
But there are other ways to check on your title for free. To start, you can search online for your county’s clerk’s office and check if records are available online. You can also call or visit the clerk’s office to learn how you can get the records. You’ll be able to see who holds the title for the property and you can check for any liens as well.
For protection against real estate fraud or claims against ownership of your home, you’ll need owner’s title insurance.