Title insurance is a policy that protects against financial loss stemming from problems found in a property's title, or legal ownership.
However Iowa is the only state that does not allow private companies to sell title insurance. The state has a public title guarantee program. In Iowa, the property abstract is updated and then an attorney's title opinion (title guarantee commitment) is prepared. The program is laid out like this.
(From the Iowa Finance Authority)
The Iowa Legislature created Title Guaranty to provide guarantees of Iowa real property titles, facilitate mortgage lenders’ participation in the secondary market and to help assure the integrity of Iowa’s land-title system. As a division of the Iowa Finance Authority, Title Guaranty is totally self-supporting. All revenue in excess of operation expenses goes toward home ownership programs for first-time homebuyers. Title Guaranty’s profits are re-invested in the state of Iowa.
Title Guaranty offers Commitments, Certificates, and Endorsements that provide low cost title protection for real estate located in Iowa. Title Guaranty issues coverage based on an abstract and attorney title opinion. Once a participating abstractor prepares an abstract, a participating attorney reviews and then issues a title opinion or Title Guaranty Commitment. All Title Guaranty Commitments, Certificates and Endorsements are issued using the industry standard ALTA forms. For a residential transaction, coverage up to $500,000 is just $110 and an additional $1 per thousand over $500,000. Most common endorsements are offered at no charge. For a non-purchase residential transaction such as a refinance or second mortgage, the premium is just $90 for coverage up to $500,000. As of April 1, 2007, Title Guaranty provides FREE Owner’s Coverage when issued in conjunction with Lender’s Coverage. For more information on rates, click onForms and Documents. Once the transaction is complete and new mortgage documents are recorded, the abstract is updated. Then, either the participant or Title Guaranty will issue the Certificate.