Working lunch with Michele Skupic

Insurance ebbs and flows

Back Article Jul 1, 2011 By Douglas Curley

Michele Skupic has been around the title insurance business long enough to recognize a turning tide.

“This is my fourth recession,” she says. “Not only did I know the signs, but I realized this one was different from the very beginning. I knew that not only would I need to reinvent myself and what I do, but so would the company.”

Fidelity National Financial is the largest title insurance company in the U.S. According to Skupic, the company insures one out of every two title policy transactions in the country.

Despite those impressive statistics, Skupic notes, “the company still has to do a huge amount of transactions just to keep the lights on.”

So as a longtime advocate of energy efficiency, Skupic went about identifying a prominent need within her industry and developing a product to address it. For several years certifying real estate with the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design program has been a popular marketing point for green-minded developers, buyers and tenants. An entire green lending community has sprouted as well. But once a property is registered for or certified as LEED, there is no industry follow up on the continued status of that certification, and that’s a problem.

“As a purely voluntary program, there was no regulatory agency watching the hen house,” she says. “In most cases, buyers and lenders depended on the word of the building owner.”

So, Skupic developed a platform wherein LEED information data fields on any property could easily be input. The results are complete due diligence and disclosure reports on the LEED certification status of any property. The U.S. Green Building Council has given its exclusive endorsement of the product, the LEED Certification Data Report. This information is now available from a single source within five to seven working days and for $1,500.

Skupic reports that initial response to the product has been very positive, noting the data report allows brokers, counsel, lenders, investors, sellers, tenants, appraisers and other stakeholders to obtain a LEED project’s certification status.

“If nothing else, it offers peace of mind,” she says. “Not too many â?¨people operate on a ‘trust me’ basis any more.”

Occupation: Skupic, 52, is vice president and national director of sustainable strategies for Fidelity National Financial. A 32-year title industry veteran, Skupic most recently launched her first sustainability project for Fidelity: the LEED Project Certification Data Report. The product provides a due diligence tool for transactions involving LEED-certified buildings.

Personal: Along with her husband, Walker, a pet dog and a rabbit, Skupic resides in Granite Bay. The couple has always been a fan of mixing camping with outdoor music festivals. This summer they’re heading to a blues festival in Mammoth.

Summer of ’94: After resigning from North American Title Co., Skupic, Walker and their then 2-and-a-half-year-old daughter Kylie hit the road. The goal was to have lobster in Cape Cod. Along the way they traveled through 36 states and visited 24 national parks. “We were just nomads. It was great fun.”

Lunch: At Paul Martin’s American Bistro in Roseville, Skupic enjoys a butter lettuce salad with grilled prawns, Point Reyes bleu cheese, candied walnuts, apples and maple vinaigrette with a side of wild mushroom soup.

Recommended For You

Griselda Barajas (left) provides health care insurance to her 10 employees at Griselda's Catering in Sacramento. Her small business is in the minority of those that can offer such benefits.

Health Care Heads-Up

Insurance clarity is on the way

The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in June to uphold the Affordable Care Act briefly tempered some of the political brouhaha surrounding the new health care law. But partisan rhetoric flared again during election season, creating more confusion about the law than clarity.

Nov 1, 2012 John Arensmeyer