(a) An "adjuster" is any individual who, for compensation, fee or commission, investigates and settles claims arising under property, casualty or surety insurance contracts, on behalf solely of either the insurer or insured. A licensed attorney who is qualified to practice law in this state is deemed not to be an adjuster for the purposes of this article.
(b) "Automated claims adjudication system" means a preprogrammed computer system designed for the collection, data entry, calculation and final resolution of portable electronics insurance claims which:
(1) May only be used by a licensed adjuster, licensed producer or supervised individuals operating pursuant to section four-a of this article;
(2) Must comply with all claims payments requirements of the insurance code; and
(3) Must be certified as compliant with this section by a licensed adjuster that is an officer of the entity which employs the individuals operating pursuant to section four-a of this article.
(c) "Company adjuster" means an adjuster representing the interests of the insurer, including an independent contractor and a salaried employee of the insurer.
(d) "Home state" means the District of Columbia or any state or territory of the United States in which an adjuster maintains his or her principal place of residence or business and in which he or she is licensed to act as a resident adjuster. If a person's principal place of residence or business does not license adjusters for the type of adjuster license sought in this state, he or she shall designate as his or her home state any state in which he or she has such a license.
(e) "Public adjuster" means an independent contractor representing solely the financial interests of the insured named in the policy.
No person shall in West Virginia act as or hold himself out to be an adjuster unless then licensed therefor pursuant to this article: Provided, That the provisions of this section do not apply to emergency insurance adjusters as defined in section eleven-a of this article.
Individuals who collect claim information from, or furnish claim information to, insureds or claimants and who conduct data entry including entering data into an automated claims adjudication system are exempt from licensure under this article: Provided, That the individuals are under the supervision of a licensed adjuster or licensed producer: Provided however, That no more than twenty-five persons are under the supervision of one licensed adjuster or licensed producer.
(1) Is eighteen years of age or more.
(2) Is a resident of West Virginia, except for nonresident adjusters as provided in section nine of this article.
(3) Satisfies the commissioner that he or she is trustworthy and competent.
(b)(1) The commissioner may, at his or her discretion, test the competency of an applicant for a license under this section by examination. However, in order to qualify for a crop adjuster license, an applicant must pass a written examination that tests the knowledge of the individual concerning the insurance laws of this state and the duties and responsibilities of a multi-peril crop adjuster. In lieu of such an examination, the commissioner may accept certification that the individual has passed a proficiency examination approved by the federal Risk Management Agency.
(2) If such an examination is required, each examinee shall pay a $25 examination fee for each examination to the commissioner, which fees shall be used for the purposes set forth in section thirteen, article three of this chapter. The commissioner may, at his or her discretion, designate an independent testing service to prepare and administer such examination subject to direction and approval by the commissioner, and examination fees charged by such service shall be paid by the applicant.
(c) The requirements of this section do not apply to licenses issued to emergency adjusters.
(a) Application for an adjuster's license or renewal thereof or emergency adjusters' licenses shall be made to the commissioner upon a form prescribed by him and shall contain such information and be accompanied by such supporting documents as the commissioner may require, and the commissioner may require such application to be made under the applicant's oath.
(b) Willful misrepresentation of any fact in any such application or any documents in support thereof is a violation of this chapter.
The commissioner may issue a license to any individual as an adjuster who complies with the applicable provisions of this chapter and who in the opinion of the commissioner is trustworthy and competent.
The fee for an adjuster's license shall be twenty-five dollars as provided in section thirteen, article three of this chapter: Provided, That when any other state imposes a tax, bond, fine, penalty, license fee or other obligation or prohibition on adjusters resident in this state, the same tax, bond, fine, penalty, license fee or other obligation or prohibition shall be imposed upon adjusters (where licensing of nonresident adjusters is permitted under this article) of each other state licensed or seeking a license in this state. All fees and moneys so collected shall be used for the purposes set forth in section thirteen, article three of this chapter: Provided, however, That the provisions of this section shall not apply to emergency insurance adjusters as defined in section eleven-a of this article.
(a) A nonresident applicant for an adjuster license who holds a similar license in his or her home state may be licensed as a nonresident adjuster in this state if the applicant's home state has established, by law or regulation like requirements for the licensing of a resident of this state as a nonresident adjuster.
(b) As a condition of continuing a nonresident adjuster license, the licensee must maintain a license in his or her home state.
(c) If a nonresident adjuster desires to become a resident adjuster he or she must apply to become one within ninety days of establishing legal residency in this state.
(d) If a nonresident adjuster has his or her license suspended, terminated or revoked by his or her home state, the adjuster must immediately notify the commissioner of that action.
(b) An adjuster whose license expires may, if application is made within one year of the expiration date, be reissued a license upon payment of twice the renewal fee.
(c) The commissioner may waive any renewal requirement for any adjuster who is unable to comply due to military service, long-term medical disability or other extenuating circumstance.
(d) As a condition of the renewal of a crop adjuster license, the commissioner may require that the licensee demonstrate that he or she has maintained certification of proficiency issued or approved by the federal Risk Management Agency.
(b) Within thirty days of the initial pretrial hearing date, an adjuster shall report to the commissioner any criminal prosecution of the adjuster in any jurisdiction. The report shall include a copy of the initial complaint filed, the order resulting from the hearing and any other relevant legal documents.
(b) If the commissioner denies an application for a license, he or she shall notify the applicant or licensee in writing of the reason for such action. The applicant or licensee may, within ten days of receipt of such notice, make written demand for a hearing before the commissioner to determine the reasonableness of the action, and such hearing shall be held in accordance with the provisions of section thirteen, article two of this chapter.
(c) Whenever, after notice and hearing, the commissioner is satisfied that any adjuster has violated any provision of this chapter or of rules promulgated hereunder, or is incompetent or untrustworthy, he or she shall place the adjuster on probation or revoke, suspend, or, if renewal of license is pending, refuse to renew the license of such adjuster. In addition to placing a licensee on probation or revoking, suspending or refusing to renew his or her license, the commissioner may in his or her discretion order such licensee to pay to the State of West Virginia an administrative penalty in a sum not to exceed $1,000 for each violation. Upon the failure of the licensee to pay such penalty within thirty days, his or her license shall be revoked or suspended by the commissioner.
(d) Orders issued pursuant to subsection (b) or (c) of this section are subject to the judicial review provisions of section fourteen, article two of this chapter.
(a) For purposes of this section, the following definitions shall apply:
(1) "Emergency adjuster" means an individual authorized by the commissioner to act as an insurance adjuster in the circumstances of an insurance emergency.
(2) "Insurance emergency" means a temporary situation as declared by the insurance commissioner when the number of licensed adjusters in the state of West Virginia is inadequate to meet the demands of the public.
(b) Whenever the commissioner determines that a state insurance emergency exists in the state of West Virginia, the commissioner may authorize individuals to be emergency adjusters. The commissioner may authorize such number of additional adjusters as he considers necessary to adequately address the emergency condition existing in the state.
(c) Any insurance company licensed to do business in this state may submit to the commissioner an application requesting appointment and authorization of one or more emergency adjusters. Each such application shall state the names of any individuals that the company wishes to be authorized as emergency adjusters and other information as the commissioner may require.
(d) The commissioner shall act on the application within twenty-four hours after such application has been submitted to him. Emergency adjusters shall be authorized to act as such only upon approval of the application by the commissioner.
(e) Any such emergency license is valid only for so long as the commissioner specifies, not to exceed a period of one hundred twenty days.
(f) During the time an individual is licensed as an emergency adjuster, he or she has the same power, authority and responsibility as other adjusters authorized by this article.
The commissioner is authorized to promulgate such rules and regulations as are necessary to effectuate the provisions of this article. Such rules and regulations shall be promulgated and adopted pursuant to the provisions of chapter twenty-nine-a of this code.
(a) Each adjuster shall file with the commissioner the complete address of his principal place of business and the complete address of his residence including the name and number of the street, or if the street where the business is located is not numbered, the number of the post office box. Within thirty days of a change of business or residence address by an adjuster the adjuster must file with the commissioner notice of such change of address.
(b) When conducting any hearing authorized by section thirteen, article two of this chapter which concerns any adjuster, the commissioner shall give notice of such hearing and the matters to be determined therein to such adjuster by certified mail, return receipt requested, sent to the last address filed by such person or entity pursuant to this section.
(c) If an adjuster fails to appear at such hearing, the hearing may proceed, at which time the commissioner shall establish that notice was sent to such person pursuant to this section prior to the entry of any orders adverse to the interests of such adjuster based upon the allegations against such person which were set forth in the notice of hearing. Certified copies of all orders entered by the commissioner shall be sent to the person affected therein by certified mail, return receipt requested, at the last address filed by such person with the division.
(d) An adjuster who fails to appear at a hearing of which notice has been provided pursuant to this section, and who has had an adverse order entered by the commissioner against them as a result of their failure to so appear may, within thirty calendar days of the entry of such adverse order, file with the commissioner a written verified appeal with any relevant documents attached thereto, which demonstrates good and reasonable cause for the adjuster's failure to appear, and may request reconsideration of the matter and a new hearing. The commissioner in his discretion, and upon a finding that the adjuster has shown good and reasonable cause for his failure to appear shall issue an order that the previous order be rescinded, that the matter be reconsidered, and that a new hearing be set.
(e) Orders entered pursuant to this section are subject to the judicial review provisions of section fourteen, article two of this chapter.