Three large title insurance groups encompassing nine companies will pay $37.8 million in refunds and penalties to settle charges the firms paid kickbacks to secure business, California Insurance Commissioner John Garamendi announced yesterday.

Meanwhile, investigations of title firms in Washington and other states are continuing.

The agreements with LandAmerica Financial Corp., First American Title Insurance Company and Fidelity National Financial Inc. follow accusations they had made $25.4 million in illegal payments to builders, realtors and lenders in exchange for referrals.

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