Member Highlight – Underwriter: Parrish Fortenberry

Originally from Canton, Parrish Fortenberry graduated with an accounting degree from Mississippi State University in 1993 and his juris doctorate from the University of Mississippi School of Law in 1996. After law school, Parrish started his career in private practice in the Jackson area before being hired as Claims Counsel for Mississippi Valley Title Insurance Company (“MVT”). Since that time, Parrish has risen through the ranks to his current role as State Counsel and Executive Vice President for MVT.       

In his current role, Parrish primarily fields underwriting questions from Agents and supports the title search department, claims department, and agency department, in addition to handling various management responsibilities. Although Parrish’s role has grown substantially through the years at MVT, he says that his favorite part of his job is still examining difficult title. Parrish says he always enjoyed trying to figure out what happened and why things were done the way that they were.

We asked Parrish what lessons he has learned in his work at MVT, to which he responded “when I first started, I assumed there was one right way to do everything in real estate law.  It didn’t take long to learn that was not correct.  Often times things are not clearly right or wrong, but in a gray area.  It is our job as Underwriters to analyze that risk and make decisions that protect the Company and the Agent without being unduly restrictive.“

Parrish believes that communication is the most important aspect of working with Underwriters. He believes that while some Agents are reluctant to ask questions they feel they should know the answers to, Underwriters never look at an Agent’s inquiry in that light. “If I can answer a question for an Agent, be it simple or complex, and that makes their day easier, then I consider that a success.”

Parrish sees the source of title information, both access and abstracting, as one of the challenges that the title insurance industry is facing. “The movement to make title information available online is great for convenience, but we still need experienced people who know how to prepare a title report.  Abstracting is not a career many young people think about, but it is vital to our industry. “

When asked what makes MVT special, he said he believes the longevity of the careers of those he works with MVT. “When people come to work with [MVT], they tend to stay for the rest of their career.  That longevity creates a depth of knowledge of the industry and builds long term relationships that provide a great benefit.“

Parrish’s office is located in Ridgeland, on Highland Colony Parkway. Parrish lives in the Madison area and in his free time enjoys traveling, running and hiking.