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Title 38 - Insurance
THE DEPARTMENT OF INSURANCE
Department of Insurance and Insurance Commission established.
There is established a separate and distinct department of this State, known as the Department of Insurance. The department must be managed and operated by a director appointed by the Governor upon the advice and consent of the Senate. The director is subject to removal by the Governor as provided in Section 1-3-240(B). The director shall be selected with special reference to his training, experience, technical knowledge of the insurance industry, and demonstrated administrative ability. The director may appoint or designate the person or persons who shall serve at the pleasure of the director to carry out the objectives or duties of the department as provided by law. Furthermore, the director may bestow upon his designee or deputy director any duty or function required of him by law in managing or supervising the Department of Insurance.
[1960 (51) 1646; 1962 Code Section 37-52; 1976 Code Section 38-3-20; 1980 Act No. 488, Section 3; 1987 Act No. 155, Section 1] Repealed by 1993 Act No. 181, Sections 532, 1617(E), eff from and after July 1, 1995.
[1960 (51) 1646; 1962 Code Section 37-53; 1976 Code Section 38-3-30; 1987 Act No. 155, Section 1] Repealed by 1993 Act No. 181, Sections 532, 1617(E), eff from and after July 1, 1995]
Compensation and expenses of Commission members.
The director or his designee shall receive annual compensation as may be provided by the General Assembly and official expenses as provided by law for executing the duties and functions of the department.
[1960 (51) 1646; 1962 Code Section 37-55; 1976 Code Section 38-3-50; 1987 Act No. 155, Section 1] Repealed by 1993 Act No. 181, Sections 532, 1617(E), eff from and after July 1, 1995.
Powers and duties of Commission and Chief Insurance Commissioner.
The director or his designee must follow the general policies and broad objectives enacted by the General Assembly regarding the operation of the insurance industry in this State.
[1947 (45) 322; 1952 Code Section 37-72; 1960 (51) 1646; 1962 Code Section 37-57; 1976 Code Section 38-3-70; 1987 Act No. 155, Section 1; 1993 Act No. 181, Section 532]Repealed by 1998 Act No. 411, Section 11, eff June 9, 1998.
The department shall have a seal with a suitable inscription, an impression of which must be filed with the Secretary of State.
[Former 1976 Code Section 38-3-90 [1947 (45) 322; 1952 Code Section 37-53; 1960 (51) 1646; 1962 Code Section 37-59] recodified as Section 38-3-120 by 1987 Act No. 155, Section 1. Former 1976 Code Section 38-3-65 [En, 1980 Act No. 488, Section 5] recodified as Section 38-3-90 by 1987 Act No. 155, Section 1; 1988 Act No. 335, Section 1] Repealed by 1993 Act No. 181, Sections 532, 1617(E), eff from and after July 1, 1995.
Chief Insurance Commissioner; removal; status; term of employment, salary, and qualifications.
The director or his designee is not subject to the State Employee Grievance Committee or any internal grievance procedure established at the Insurance Department. The director or his designee shall devote all of his working time to the duties of his office. Before taking the oath of office he shall sever all connections, either direct or indirect, except as a policyholder, with any insurance company or agency and shall maintain the severance during his tenure of office. If he becomes a candidate for public office or becomes a member of a political committee during tenure, his office as director or his designee must be immediately vacated.
Duties of Chief Insurance Commissioner.
The director or his designee has the following duties:
(1) supervise and regulate the rates and service of every insurer in this State and fix just and reasonable standards, classifications, regulations, practices, and measurements of service to be observed and followed by every insurer doing business in this State. Nothing contained in this title authorizes or requires a review by the department or the director of any order of the director's designee or the deputy director under the Administrative Procedures Act. This item does not grant any additional authority to the director or his designee with regard to insurance rates other than the ratemaking authority specifically granted to the director or his designee, or the Department of Insurance for certain kinds of insurance in other provisions of this title;
(2) see that all laws of this State governing insurers or relating to the business of insurance are faithfully executed and make regulations to carry out this title and all other insurance laws of this State, the enforcement or administration of which is not otherwise specifically provided for;
(3) report to the Attorney General or other appropriate law enforcement officials criminal violations of the laws relative to the business of insurance or the provisions of this title which he considers necessary to report;
(4) institute civil actions, either through his office or through the Attorney General, relative to the business of insurance or the provisions of this title which he considers necessary to institute.
Oath and bond of Commissioner.
The director shall take the oath of office as prescribed for all state officers. Before entering upon or continuing the discharge of the duties of his office, he shall give bond to the State for the benefit of any person aggrieved by his unlawful or wrongful actions. This bond must be in the sum of fifty thousand dollars, with sufficient surety, to be approved by the State Treasurer, for the faithful performance of all the duties required of him under the law during the term of his office. The premium of the bond must be paid by the State.
Actuaries, examiners, clerks, and employees.
The director shall appoint or employ actuaries, examiners, clerks, and other employees necessary for the proper execution of the work of the department.
Violations considered committed in part at office of Commissioner.
The failure to do any act required by this title is considered a violation committed in part at the office of the director in Columbia.
Commissioner, assistants, or agents may conduct examinations, investigations, and hearings.
All examinations or investigations provided by this title, unless otherwise provided by any other insurance laws of this State, may be conducted by the director or by one or more of his duly authorized assistants or agents. All hearings must be held by the director or by one of his duly authorized assistants or agents when authorized to do so in writing by the director. However, in any hearing concerning the adjustment of insurance rates the director or his designee may conduct the hearing.
Administration of oaths.
The director or his duly appointed assistants or agents shall administer all oaths required in the discharge of his official duties.
Notice of hearings.
All hearings, unless otherwise specifically provided, must be held at the time and place designated in a written notice given by the director or his designee to the person cited to appear at least thirty days before the designated date. The notice shall state the subject of the inquiry and specific charges, if any. It is sufficient to give notice either by delivering it to the person or by depositing it in the United States mail, postage prepaid, addressed to the last known address of the person and registered with return receipt requested.
Summoning witnesses; contempt; perjury.
The director or any assistants or agents appointed to conduct examinations may summon and compel the attendance of witnesses to testify in relation to any matter which is, by the provisions of this title or by any other insurance laws of this State, a subject of inquiry and investigation. The director or his designee has the power of a circuit judge to punish for contempt any witness failing to answer any summons or failing or refusing to testify when so required. The director or any assistants or agents appointed to conduct examinations may also administer oaths and affirmations to persons appearing as witnesses before them, and false testimony in any matter or proceeding is considered perjury and must be punished in accordance with the laws of this State.
Mileage payments for witnesses.
Any person summoned by the Insurance Department to testify as a witness at any hearing must be paid for his actual mileage at the same rate as provided by law for state departments or divisions.
Orders must be in writing and signed.
No order of the director or his designee is effective unless made in writing and signed by the director or by his authority.
Petition for judicial review of order or decision; effect as stay.
Any order or decision made, issued, or executed by the director or his designee is subject to judicial review in accordance with the appellate procedures of the South Carolina Administrative Law Judge Division, as provided by law. An appeal from an order or decision under this section must be heard in the Administrative Law Judge Division, as provided by law. The administrative law judge or judges may not, under any terms, order a stay of enforcement of any order of the director or his designee to make good an impairment of capital or surplus or a deficiency in the amount of admitted assets.
Certificates and papers of Commissioner as evidence.
Every certificate or other paper executed by the director or his designee in pursuance of any authority conferred upon him by law and sealed with the seal of the department and all copies of papers certified by the director or his designee and authenticated by the director's or his designee's seal may in all cases be used as evidence in any suit or proceeding in any court of this State with the same force and effect as the originals.
Commissioner's certificate as evidence of authority to do business.
In any case or controversy where it is necessary to determine whether any insurance or other company, or agent thereof, is or has been licensed by the director or his designee to do business in this State, the certificate of the director or his designee under the seal of the department is admissible in evidence as proof of this authority.
Conversion of licenses to biennial fee collection period; particular fee periods.
(A) Beginning July 1, 1992, the department shall begin converting certain licenses required by statute or regulation to a biennial license fee collection period. These license fees must be collected as follows:
(1) All insurers transacting business in this State including reciprocals, fraternal benefit associations, mutual insurers doing a property business only in no more than three counties, mutual insurers doing a property business only in a single county, and approved reinsurers shall pay a license fee for two years to the department by March 1, 1994, and every two years after that time by March 1st every even-numbered year.
(2) An agency transacting the business of insurance in this State shall pay a license fee for two years to the department within thirty days after January 1, 1994, and every two years after that time within thirty days after January 1st every even-numbered year.
(3) A broker transacting the business of insurance in this State shall pay a license fee for two years to the department within thirty days after May 1, 1994, and every two years after that time within thirty days after May 1st every even-numbered year.
(4) An adjuster transacting business in this State shall pay a license fee for two years to the department within thirty days after August 1, 1993, and every two years after that time within thirty days after August 1st every odd-numbered year.
(5) A motor vehicle damage appraiser transacting business in this State shall pay a license fee for two years to the department within thirty days after October 1, 1993, and every two years after that time within thirty days after October 1st every odd-numbered year.
(6) An agent transacting the business of insurance in this State shall pay a license fee for two years to the department within thirty days after September 1, 1992, and every two years after that time within thirty days after September first every even-numbered year.
(B) The fees described in this section must be earned fully when paid and are not refundable, proratable, or transferable. They must be collected in the amount and manner prescribed by statute or regulation before July 1, 1992, until the dates prescribed in subsection (A) when collections must be made pursuant to that subsection.