During 2019, lower mortgage rates contributed to the highest level of industry refinance originations since 2016. This activity, coupled with continued increases in purchase originations, led to increased revenue and earnings for Old Republic Title Insurance Group (ORTIG) in 2019.
Continued investments in both agency and direct revenue channels contributed to ORTIG’s success in 2019. Our emphasis on doing business the “right way” through exceptional service and support to our title agents and customers is central to our success.
2019 marked ORTIG’s fifth consecutive year and sixth time in the past seven years of revenues in excess of $2 billion, with 2019 setting an all-time high at more than $2.5 billion. Pretax operating earnings were in excess of $200 million for the fourth straight year. This success came from our direct and independent agency operations, along with continued growth in ORTIG’s commercial division. We remain agency focused, with 73% of our business in 2019 coming from our loyal, independent title agency network.
As outlined in the summary of financial data (see the news release link below), pretax earnings were $230.8 million in 2019. Efficient management of the business has enabled us to effectively manage the expense ratio. The claims ratio, which came in at 2.7 percent of premiums and fees revenues in 2019, continues to trend at historically low levels. Claim costs over the past several years continue to reflect the ongoing trend of favorable claim development.
For more information and 2019 financial highlights, see the Title Insurance Segment Results section of the January 23, 2020 news release from Old Republic International Corporation, Old Republic Title's parent company.