Bot beginnings: Marlton-based firm is enjoying being a pioneer in using artificial intelligence in title insurance industry

Fran Turchi likened it to ordering a pizza. Just like a delivery service could tell you when that large pepperoni was going to arrive at your doorstep, her title insurance business could automatically track how far along your commercial or residential real estate documentation was.

But that way of doing business was only a small piece of the technology pie.

Turchi, co-owner and chief operating officer of National Integrity Title Agency, said her firm is one of the first in its southern New Jersey region to take the further step of handing a large share of functions over to an artificial intelligence system. And, in this corner of the real estate sector, where innovation is sometimes scarce, she believes it’s the best choice.

The Marlton-based title insurance agency, which was founded in 1992 as Integrity Title Agency, started with trackers that notified people when it was ready to schedule real estate closings, or when certain statements were missing. Now, it has added a virtual assistant that Turchi said does that and many other tasks.

Robin, the National Integrity Title Agency bot.

“It’s a bot we modeled after the ’60s show ‘Bewitched,’” Turchi said. “Her name is Robin. She helps clients get to documents, help them get to closings or find the status of a file. She also asks questions, aside from just answering questions.”

In other words, the industry is aiming for more than a typical popup chat bot that will stiffly engage with visitors of a website — the sort that has been utilized for years in real estate, law and other industries.

Turchi said this bot instead tracks the title insurance process itself in a customer-specific way, allowing it to provide proactive updates on milestones in the real estate process outside of business hours.

“It’s one of those things you look at and think it might benefit consumers, but might not help us,” she said. “But it’s one of those rare forms of tech that was a win-win for both us and customers. … What it has done is it has gotten our people better experiences than calling into the office, possibly being put on hold, to talk about a closing.”

The midsized National Integrity Title Agency, which handled over 4,000 closings across the region last year, relishes being able to market itself as a forward thinker in technology. But, Turchi said, it also doesn’t want to oversell it.

Some clients, she’ll admit, want the software switched off, even if most of the feedback on this new AI bot’s handling of business has been positive. The firm also advertises the tool as not replacing the human touch, so much as just supporting it.

The embrace of AI might not be a notable one in some sectors. In title insurance, it is.

“This is not at all something that is commonplace,” she said. “This sort of tool is not popular, or even used at all by other firms in our neck of the woods. I think title insurance is one of those older industries that won’t quickly jump on board when it comes to new technology. Thankfully, I have a partner (at the firm) who thinks outside the box.”

Turchi has been in the title insurance industry for four decades. The business lagging behind techwise tends to just come with the territory.

“It’s because we don’t have any downtime,” she said. “There’s never an off period to explore, as other industries might have.”

Maybe you thought it; Turchi will say it: What her firm does, for the most part, is help sell “boring insurance products.”

“So, when we can find something with technology that some clients might be really excited about, you have to take that jump and promote it,” she said. “And it’s making someone’s life easier, and it’s making our lives easier, too.”