(a) The commissioner shall enforce the provisions of this chapter and section fifteen-a, article two of chapter forty-eight and perform the duties required thereunder; shall affix the commissioner's official seal to all documents and papers required to be filed in other states by domestic insurers and to other papers when an official seal is required; and shall, on or before the tenth day of each month, pay into the state treasury all fees and moneys which he or she has received during the preceding calendar month.
(b) Notwithstanding any provisions of this code to the contrary, the commissioner may acquire such legal services as are deemed necessary, including representation of the commissioner before any court or administrative body. Such counsel may be employed either on a salaried basis or on a reasonable fee basis. In addition, the commissioner may call upon the attorney general for legal assistance and representation as provided by law.
(b) Employees designated by the commissioner are permitted to operate vehicles owned or leased by the state displaying Class A registration plates when engaged in carrying out the investigative duties assigned to the commissioner by this chapter.
(b) Subpoenas may be issued to any person and may require that person, among other things, to:
(1) Testify under oath;
(2) Answer written interrogatories under oath;
(3) Produce documents and tangible things; and
(4) Permit inspection and copying of documents.
(c) Content of subpoena. A subpoena shall:
(1) Describe generally the nature of the investigation;
(2) If the subpoena requires testimony under oath, specify the date, time and place for the taking of testimony;
(3) If the subpoena requires answers to written interrogatories, contain a copy of the written interrogatories;
(4) If the subpoena requires the production of tangible things or documents:
(A) Describe the things and documents to be produced with reasonable specificity; and
(B) Specify a date, time, and place at which the things and documents are to be produced;
(5) Notify the person to whom the subpoena is directed of the obligation to supplement responses;
(6) Advise the person to whom the subpoena is directed that the person may be represented by counsel; and
(7) Identify a member of the office of the insurance commissioner who may be contacted in reference to the subpoena.
(d) For subpoenas to corporations and other entities, the following apply:
(1) A subpoena directed to a corporation, partnership or other business entity that requires testimony under oath shall describe with reasonable particularity the subject matter of the testimony;
(2) An entity that receives a subpoena to answer written interrogatories or to testify under oath shall designate one or more of its officers, agents, employees or other authorized persons familiar with the subject matter specified in the subpoena to respond to the subpoena on its behalf;
(3) The persons designated by an entity to respond to a subpoena on its behalf shall answer the interrogatories or testify as to all matters known or reasonably available to the entity; and
(4) A subpoena directed to an entity that requires testimony under oath or answers to written interrogatories shall advise the entity of its obligations under this section.
(e) Effect of other proceedings. The institution or pendency of administrative or judicial proceedings against a person by the commissioner does not relieve the person of his or her obligation to respond to a subpoena issued under this section.
(f) Subpoenas for interrogatories and answers and requests for production of documents or tangible things and answers propounded and obtained under this section pursuant to an investigation are exempted from disclosure under the provisions of article one, chapter twenty-nine-b of this code, and are not open to public inspection. The commissioner may not disclose facts or information obtained from the investigation except as the official duty of the commissioner requires.
(g) Nothing in this section prohibits the commissioner from providing information or receiving information from any local, state, federal or international law-enforcement authorities, including any prosecuting authority; from complying with subpoenas or other lawful process in criminal proceedings or other action by the state; or from taking action as may otherwise be provided in this article.
(b) For purposes of this section, the following definitions shall apply:
(1) "Commissioner" means the Commissioner of Insurance of this state;
(2) "Company" or "insurance company" means any person engaging in or proposing or attempting to engage in any transaction or kind of insurance or surety business and any person or group of persons who may otherwise be subject to the administrative, regulatory or taxing authority of the commissioner, including, but not limited to, any domestic or foreign stock company, mutual company, mutual protective association, farmers mutual fire companies, fraternal benefit society, reciprocal or interinsurance exchange, nonprofit medical care corporation, nonprofit health care corporation, nonprofit hospital service association, nonprofit dental care corporation, health maintenance organization, captive insurance company, risk retention group or other insurer regardless of the type of coverage written, benefits provided or guarantees made by each;
(3) "Department" means the Department of Insurance of this state; and
(4) "Examiners" means the Commissioner of Insurance or any individual or firm having been authorized by the commissioner to conduct an examination pursuant to this section, including, but not limited to, the commissioner's deputies, other employees, appointed examiners or other appointed individuals or firms who are not employees of the Department of Insurance.
(c) The commissioner or his or her examiners may conduct an examination under this section of any company as often as the commissioner in his or her discretion considers appropriate. The commissioner or his or her examiners shall at least once every five years visit each domestic insurer and thoroughly examine its financial condition and methods of doing business and ascertain whether it has complied with all the laws and regulations of this state. The commissioner may also examine the affairs of any insurer applying for a license to transact any insurance business in this state.
(d) The commissioner or his or her examiners shall, at a minimum, conduct an examination of every foreign or alien insurer licensed in this state not less frequently than once every five years. The examination of an alien insurer may be limited to its United States business: Provided, That in lieu of an examination under this section of any foreign or alien insurer licensed in this state, the commissioner may accept an examination report on the company as prepared by the insurance department for the company's state of domicile or port-of-entry state until the first day of January, one thousand nine hundred ninety-four. Thereafter, the reports may only be accepted if:
(1) The insurance department was at the time of the examination accredited under the National Association of Insurance Commissioners' Financial Regulation Standards and Accreditation Program; or
(2) The examination is performed under the supervision of an accredited insurance department or with the participation of one or more examiners who are employed by an accredited state insurance department and who, after a review of the examination work papers and report, state under oath that the examination was performed in a manner consistent with the standards and procedures required by their insurance department.
(e) In scheduling and determining the nature, scope and frequency of examinations conducted pursuant to this section, the commissioner may consider such matters as the results of financial statement analyses and ratios, changes in management or ownership, actuarial opinions, reports of independent certified public accountants and other criteria as set forth in the examiners' handbook adopted by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners and in effect when the commissioner exercises discretion under this section.
(f) For purposes of completing an examination of any company under this section, the commissioner may examine or investigate any person, or the business of any person, insofar as the examination or investigation is, in the sole discretion of the commissioner, necessary or material to the examination of the company.
(g) The commissioner may also cause to be examined, at the times as he or she considers necessary, the books, records, papers, documents, correspondence and methods of doing business of any agent, broker, excess lines broker or solicitor licensed by this state. For these purposes, the commissioner or his or her examiners shall have free access to all books, records, papers, documents and correspondence of all the agents, brokers, excess lines brokers and solicitors wherever the books, records, papers, documents and records are situate. The commissioner may revoke the license of any agent, broker, excess lines broker or solicitor who refuses to submit to the examination.
(h) In addition to conducting an examination, the commissioner or his or her examiners may, as the commissioner considers necessary, analyze or review any phase of the operations or methods of doing business of an insurer, agent, broker, excess lines broker, solicitor or other individual or corporation transacting or attempting to transact an insurance business in the State of West Virginia. The commissioner may use the full resources provided by this section in carrying out these responsibilities, including any personnel and equipment provided by this section as the commissioner considers necessary.
(i) Examinations made pursuant to this section shall be conducted in the following manner:
(1) Upon determining that an examination should be conducted, the commissioner or his or her designee shall issue an examination warrant appointing one or more examiners to perform the examination and instructing them as to the scope of the examination. The appointment of any examiners pursuant to this section by the commissioner shall not be subject to the requirements of article three, chapter five-a of this code, except that the contracts and agreements shall be approved as to form and conformity with applicable law by the Attorney General. In conducting the examination, the examiner shall observe those guidelines and procedures set forth in the examiners' handbook adopted by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners. The commissioner may also employ any other guidelines or procedures as the commissioner may consider appropriate;
(2) Every company or person from whom information is sought, its officers, directors and agents shall provide to the examiners appointed under subdivision (1) of this subsection timely, convenient and free access at all reasonable hours at its offices to all books, records, accounts, papers, documents and any or all computer or other recordings relating to the property, assets, business and affairs of the company being examined. The officers, directors, employees and agents of the company or person shall facilitate the examination and aid in the examination so far as it is in their power to do so;
(3) The refusal of any company, by its officers, directors, employees or agents, to submit to examination or to comply with any reasonable written request of the examiners shall be grounds for suspension, revocation, refusal or nonrenewal of any license or authority held by the company to engage in an insurance or other business subject to the commissioner's jurisdiction. Any proceedings for suspension, revocation, refusal or nonrenewal of any license or authority shall be conducted pursuant to section eleven of this article;
(4) The commissioner or his or her examiners shall have the power to issue subpoenas, to administer oaths and to examine under oath any person as to any matter pertinent to the examination, analysis or review. The subpoenas shall be enforced pursuant to the provisions of section six of this article;
(5) When making an examination, analysis or review under this section, the commissioner may retain attorneys, appraisers, independent actuaries, independent certified public accountants, professionals or specialists with training or experience in reinsurance, investments or information systems or other professionals and specialists as examiners, the cost of which shall be borne by the company which is the subject of the examination, analysis or review or, in the commissioner's discretion, paid from the Commissioner's Examination Revolving Fund. The commissioner may recover costs paid from the Commissioner's Examination Revolving Fund pursuant to this subdivision from the company upon which the examination, analysis or review is conducted unless the subject of the examination, analysis or review is an individual described in subdivision (2), subsection (q) of this section;
(6) Nothing contained in this section may be construed to limit the commissioner's authority to terminate or suspend any examination, analysis or review in order to pursue other legal or regulatory action pursuant to the insurance laws of this state. The commissioner or his or her examiners may at any time testify and offer other proper evidence as to information secured during the course of an examination, analysis or review whether or not a written report of the examination has at that time either been made, served or filed in the commissioner's office;
(7) Nothing contained in this section may be construed to limit the commissioner's authority to use and, if appropriate, to make public any final or preliminary examination report, any examiner or company workpapers or other documents or any other information discovered or developed during the course of any examination, analysis or review in the furtherance of any legal or regulatory action which the commissioner may, in his or her sole discretion, consider appropriate. An examination report, when filed, shall be admissible in evidence in any action or proceeding brought by the commissioner against an insurance company, its officers or agents and shall be prima facie evidence of the facts stated therein.
(j) Examination reports prepared pursuant to the provisions of this section shall comply with the following requirements:
(1) All examination reports shall be comprised of only facts appearing upon the books, records or other documents of the company, its agents or other persons examined or as ascertained from the testimony of its officers or agents or other persons examined concerning its affairs and any conclusions and recommendations the examiners find reasonably warranted from the facts;
(2) No later than sixty days following completion of the examination the examiner in charge shall file with the commissioner a verified written report of examination under oath. Upon receipt of the verified report, the commissioner shall transmit the report to the company examined, together with a notice which shall afford the company examined a reasonable opportunity of not more than thirty days to make a written submission or rebuttal with respect to any matters contained in the examination report;
(3) Within thirty days of the end of the period allowed for the receipt of written submissions or rebuttals the commissioner shall fully consider and review the report, together with any written submissions or rebuttals and any relevant portions of the examiner's workpapers and enter an order:
(A) Adopting the examination report as filed or with modification or corrections. If the examination report reveals that the company is operating in violation of any law, rule or prior order of the commissioner, the commissioner may order the company to take any action the commissioner considers necessary and appropriate to cure the violation; or
(B) Rejecting the examination report with directions to the examiners to reopen the examination for purposes of obtaining additional data, documentation or information and refiling pursuant to subdivision (2) of this subsection; or
(C) Calling for an investigatory hearing with no less than twenty days' notice to the company for purposes of obtaining additional documentation, data, information and testimony;
(4) All orders entered pursuant to this subsection shall be accompanied by findings and conclusions resulting from the commissioner's consideration and review of the examination report, relevant examiner workpapers and any written submissions or rebuttals. Any order issued pursuant to paragraph (A), subdivision (3) of this subsection shall be considered a final administrative decision and may be appealed pursuant to section fourteen of this article and shall be served upon the company by certified mail, together with a copy of the adopted examination report. Within thirty days of the issuance of the adopted report the company shall file affidavits executed by each of its directors stating under oath that they have received a copy of the adopted report and related orders.
(k) Hearings conducted pursuant to this section shall be subject to the following requirements:
(1) Any hearing conducted pursuant to this section by the commissioner or the commissioner's authorized representative shall be conducted as a nonadversarial, confidential investigatory proceeding as necessary for the resolution of any inconsistencies, discrepancies or disputed issues apparent upon the face of the filed examination report or raised by or as a result of the commissioner's review of relevant workpapers or by the written submission or rebuttal of the company. Within twenty days of the conclusion of any hearing, the commissioner shall enter an order pursuant to paragraph (A), subdivision (3), subsection (j) of this section;
(2) The commissioner may not appoint an examiner as an authorized representative to conduct the hearing. The hearing shall proceed expeditiously with discovery by the company limited to the examiner's workpapers which tend to substantiate any assertions set forth in any written submission or rebuttal. The commissioner or the commissioner's representative may issue subpoenas for the attendance of any witnesses or the production of any documents considered relevant to the investigation whether under the control of the commissioner, the company or other persons. The documents produced shall be included in the record and testimony taken by the commissioner or the commissioner's representative shall be under oath and preserved for the record. Nothing contained in this section shall require the commissioner to disclose any information or records which would indicate or show the existence or content of any investigation or activity of a criminal justice agency;
(3) The hearing shall proceed with the commissioner or the commissioner's representative posing questions to the persons subpoenaed. Thereafter, the company and the department may present testimony relevant to the investigation. Cross-examination may be conducted only by the commissioner or the commissioner's representative. The company and the commissioner shall be permitted to make closing statements and may be represented by counsel of their choice.
(l) Adoption of the examination report shall be subject to the following requirements:
(1) Upon the adoption of the examination report under paragraph (A), subdivision (3), subsection (j) of this section, the commissioner may continue to hold the content of the examination report as private and confidential information for a period of ninety days except to the extent provided in subdivision (6), subsection (i) of this section. Thereafter, the commissioner may open the report for public inspection so long as no court of competent jurisdiction has stayed its publication;
(2) Nothing contained in this section may prevent or be construed as prohibiting the commissioner from disclosing the content of an examination report, preliminary examination report or results or any matter relating thereto or the results of any analysis or review to the insurance department of this or any other state or country or to law-enforcement officials of this or any other state or agency of the federal government at any time, so long as the agency or office receiving the report or matters relating thereto agrees in writing to hold it confidential and in a manner consistent with this section;
(3) In the event the commissioner determines that regulatory action is appropriate as a result of any examination, analysis or review, he or she may initiate any proceedings or actions as provided by law;
(4) All working papers, recorded information, documents and copies thereof produced by, obtained by or disclosed to the commissioner or any other person in the course of an examination, analysis or review made under this section must be given confidential treatment and are not subject to subpoena and may not be made public by the commissioner or any other person, except to the extent provided in subdivision (5), subsection (i) of this section. Access may also be granted in accordance with section nineteen of this article. The parties must agree in writing prior to receiving the information to provide to it the same confidential treatment as required by this section unless the prior written consent of the company to which it pertains has been obtained.
(m) The commissioner may require any examiner to furnish a bond in such amount as commissioner may determine to be appropriate and the bond shall be approved, filed and premium paid, with suitable proof submitted to the commissioner, prior to commencement of employment by the commissioner. No examiner may be appointed by the commissioner if the examiner, either directly or indirectly, has a conflict of interest or is affiliated with the management of or owns a pecuniary interest in any person subject to examination under this section. This section shall not be construed to automatically preclude an examiner from being:
(1) A policyholder or claimant under an insurance policy;
(2) A grantor of a mortgage or similar instrument on the examiner's residence to a regulated entity if done under customary terms and in the ordinary course of business;
(3) An investment owner in shares of regulated diversified investment companies; or
(4) A settlor or beneficiary of a "blind trust" into which any otherwise impermissible holdings have been placed;
(5) Notwithstanding the requirements of this subsection, the commissioner may retain, from time to time, on an individual basis qualified actuaries, certified public accountants or other similar individuals who are independently practicing their professions even though these persons may, from time to time, be similarly employed or retained by persons subject to examination under this section.
(n) Personnel conducting examinations, analyses or reviews of either a domestic, foreign or alien insurer shall be compensated for each day worked at a rate set by the commissioner. The personnel shall also be reimbursed for their travel and living expenses at the rate set by the commissioner. Other individuals who are not employees of the Department of Insurance shall all be compensated for their work, travel and living expenses at rates approved by the commissioner or as otherwise provided by law. As used in this section, the costs of an examination, analysis or review means:
(1) The entire compensation for each day worked by all personnel, including those who are not employees of the Department of Insurance, the conduct of the examination, analysis or review calculated as hereinbefore provided;
(2) Travel and living expenses of all personnel, including those who are not employees of the Department of Insurance, directly engaged in the conduct of the examination, analysis or review calculated at the rates as hereinbefore provided for;
(3) All other incidental expenses incurred by or on behalf of the personnel in the conduct of any authorized examination, analysis or review.
(o) (1) All property and casualty insurers subject to the provisions of this section shall annually pay to the commissioner on or before the first day of July, one thousand nine hundred ninety-one, and every first day of July thereafter an examination assessment fee of up to five thousand dollars. Four hundred fifty dollars of this fee shall be paid to the Treasurer of the state to the credit of a special revolving fund to be known as the Commissioner's Examination Revolving Fund which is hereby established; up to four thousand two hundred dollars shall be paid to the Treasurer of the state to the credit of the Unfair Claims Settlement Practice Trust Fund established in section four-b, article eleven of this chapter and three hundred fifty dollars shall be paid to the Treasurer of the state. If the trust fund has moneys in excess of one million dollars, the examination assessment fee shall be eight hundred dollars and the five thousand dollar fee shall only be reinstated at whatever amount the commissioner deems necessary to maintain the fund, if the fund value goes below one million dollars. The commissioner may at his or her discretion, upon notice to the insurers subject to this subsection, increase this examination assessment fee or levy an additional examination assessment fee of two hundred fifty dollars. In no event may the total examination assessment fee, including any additional examination assessment fee levied, exceed five thousand two hundred fifty dollars per insurer in any calendar year.
(2) All insurers other than property and casualty insurers subject to the provisions of this section shall annually pay to the commissioner on or before the first day of July, one thousand nine hundred ninety-one, and every first day of July thereafter an examination assessment fee of eight hundred dollars. Four hundred fifty dollars of this fee shall be paid to the Treasurer of the state to the credit the Commissioner's Examination Revolving Fund and three hundred fifty dollars shall be paid to the Treasurer of the state. The commissioner may at his or her discretion, upon notice to the insurers subject to this subsection, increase this examination assessment fee or levy an additional examination assessment fee of two hundred fifty dollars. In no event may the total examination assessment fee, including any additional examination assessment fee levied, exceed one thousand five hundred dollars per insurer in any calendar year.
(p) The moneys collected by the commissioner from an increase or additional examination assessment fee shall be paid to the Treasurer of the state to be credited to the commissioner's Examination Revolving Fund. Any funds expended or obligated by the commissioner from the Commissioner's Examination Revolving Fund may be expended or obligated solely for defrayment of the costs of examinations, analyses or reviews of the financial affairs and business practices of insurance companies, agents, brokers, excess lines brokers, solicitors or other individuals or corporations transacting or attempting to transact an insurance business in this state made by the commissioner pursuant to this section or for the purchase of equipment and supplies, travel, education and training for the commissioner's deputies, other employees and appointed examiners necessary for the commissioner to fulfill the statutory obligations created by this section.
(q) The commissioner may require other individuals who are not employees of the Department of Insurance who have been appointed by the commissioner to conduct or participate in the examination, analysis or review of insurers, agents, brokers, excess lines brokers, solicitors or other individuals or corporations transacting or attempting to transact an insurance business in this state to:
(1) Bill and receive payments directly from the insurance company being examined, analyzed or reviewed for their work, travel and living expenses as previously provided in this section; or
(2) If an individual agent, broker or solicitor is being examined, analyzed or reviewed, bill and receive payments directly from the Commissioner's Examination Revolving Fund for their work, travel and living expenses as previously provided in this section. The commissioner may recover costs paid from the Commissioner's Examination Revolving Fund pursuant to this subdivision from the person upon whom the examination, analysis or review is conducted.
(r) The commissioner and his or her examiners shall be entitled to immunity to the following extent:
(1) No cause of action shall arise nor shall any liability be imposed against the commissioner or his or her examiners for any statements made or conduct performed in good faith while carrying out the provisions of this section;
(2) No cause of action shall arise, nor shall any liability be imposed, against any person for the act of communicating or delivering information or data to the commissioner or his or her examiners pursuant to an examination, analysis or review made under this section if the act of communication or delivery was performed in good faith and without fraudulent intent or the intent to deceive;
(3) The commissioner or any examiner shall be entitled to an award of attorney's fees and costs if he or she is the prevailing party in a civil cause of action for libel, slander or any other relevant tort arising out of activities in carrying out the provisions of this section and the party bringing the action was not substantially justified in doing so. For purposes of this section, a proceeding is "substantially justified" if it had a reasonable basis in law or fact at the time that it was initiated;
(4) This subsection does not abrogate or modify in any way any constitutional immunity or common law or statutory privilege or immunity heretofore enjoyed by any person identified in subdivision (1) of this subsection.
(b) The commissioner is authorized to promulgate rules necessary to discharge his or her duties relating to workers' compensation insurance as set forth in chapter twenty-three of this code, which shall be exempt from the provisions of chapter twenty-nine-a, article three of this code, except that these rules shall be filed with the Secretary of State's Office.
(c) Prior to assuming regulatory authority over workers' compensation insurance pursuant to article two-c, chapter twenty-three of this code, the commissioner shall review and revise all applicable rules to reflect the assumption of this new regulatory authority: Provided, That all such revisions shall be exempt from the provisions of chapter twenty-nine-a, article three, except that the amended rules shall be filed with the Secretary of State's Office.
(1) To make state and local governmental entities and nonprofit organizations aware of the 1988 amendments to the federal Robert T. Stafford Emergency Assistance and Disaster Relief Act which impose penalties in the form of reductions in Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) disaster relief funds on public entities who fail to purchase adequate flood insurance on all property located in identified flood hazard areas;
(2) To make state and local governmental entities and nonprofit organizations generally aware of the magnitude of risk exposure and potential financial loss that may result from these penalties; and
(3) To make state and local governmental entities and nonprofit organizations aware that low-cost, federally subsidized flood insurance may be available through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP).
(b) The commissioner may propose rules for legislative approval in accordance with the provisions of article three, chapter twenty-nine-a of this code to effectuate the provisions of this section.
(b) The report shall contain the following information:
(1) The legal history of the creation of a third party causes of action brought pursuant to Unfair Trade Practices Act as codified in article eleven of this chapter;
(2) An analysis of the impact of third party causes of action upon insurance rates and the availability of insurance in this state;
(3) A summary of the types of data which the commissioner utilized in preparing the analysis: Provided, That the commissioner will not disclose information which is otherwise confidential: Provided, however, That if the commissioner is unable to obtain data which he or she considers necessary to preparing a full analysis, the commissioner shall state in the report:
(A) The reasons that he or she was not able to obtain the data;
(B) Recommendations or proposed legislation for facilitating the collection of necessary data and protecting proprietary information;
(4) Information on what other states have this cause of action;
(5) Based upon the findings of the commissioner, and if the findings so suggest, proposed legislation to address any reforms needed for third party claims under the Unfair Trade Practices Act;
(c) For purpose of preparing the report, the commissioner may request from companies authorized to conduct business in this state any information that he or she believes is necessary to determine the economic effect of third-party lawsuits on insurance premiums. The companies shall not be required to provide the information. Any information which the company agrees to provide, shall be considered confidential by law and privileged, is exempt from disclosure pursuant to chapter twenty-nine-b of this code, is not open to public inspection, is not subject to subpoena, and is not subject to discovery or admissible in evidence in any criminal, private civil or administrative action and is not subject to production pursuant to court order. Notwithstanding any other provisions in this section, while the commissioner is to provide his or her general conclusions based upon the review of the data, the commissioner is not to disclose the information in a manner so as to violate the confidentiality provisions of this section.
(b) The report shall contain the following information:
(1) An overview of the function of the office of the consumer advocacy and how the office addresses consumer complaints;
(2) The number of staff in the office of the consumer advocate and the structure of the existing office;
(3) Statistics reflecting the number of consumer complaints and types handled by the office from the first of January, two thousand one, until the first of January, two thousand four;
(4) The number of states which have consumer advocates and the lines of insurance for which the advocates are authorized to act on behalf of consumers;
(5) The recommendation of the commissioner in regard to whether this state would benefit by having the role of the consumer advocate expanded to other lines of insurance;
(6) Based upon the findings and recommendations, of the commissioner, and if the findings so suggest, proposed legislation for expanding the office of the consumer advocate to other lines of insurance.
(b) The Insurance Commissioner shall by proposal of legislative or procedural rules, pursuant to article three, chapter twenty-nine-a of this code, put forth analytical criteria and methodology of all factors to be considered in the report. This purpose of this section is to assure that all relevant factors of concern to the Legislature regarding the effect of the reforms enacted in this article, any savings to consumers, the promotion of insurance availability and impacts on insurance industry services and performance are fully reviewed and addressed.
(b) The Insurance Commissioner shall provide office space, equipment and supplies for the office.
(c) The Director may promulgate rules pursuant to article three, chapter twenty-nine-a of this code in order to effect the purposes of this section and sections seventeen and eighteen of this article.
(d) On or before the first day of each regular session of the Legislature, the Director shall file with the Governor, the Clerk of the Senate and the Clerk of the House of Delegates a report detailing the actions taken by the division in the preceding calendar year.
(1) Institute, intervene in, or otherwise participate in, as an advocate for the public interest and the interests of insurance consumers, proceedings in state and federal courts, before administrative agencies or before the Health Care Authority, concerning applications or proceedings before the Health Care Authority or the review of any act, failure to act or order of the Health Care Authority;
(2) At the request of one or more policyholders, or whenever the public interest is served, to advocate the interests of those policyholders in proceedings arising out of any filing made with the Insurance Commissioner by any insurance company or relating to any complaint alleging an unfair or deceptive act or practice in the business of insurance;
(3) At the request of one or more third-party claimant who does not have legal representation at a hearing on his or her claim, or whenever the public interest is served, to advocate the interests of those third-party claimants in proceedings arising out of any filing made with the Insurance Commissioner by any insurance company or relating to any third-party complaint alleging an unfair claims settlement practice;
(4) Institute, intervene in or otherwise participate in, as an advocate for the public interest and the interests of insurance consumers, proceedings in state and federal courts, before administrative agencies, or before the Insurance Commissioner, concerning applications or proceedings before the Commissioner or the review of any act, failure to act or order of the Insurance Commissioner;
(5) Review and compile information, data and studies of the reasonable and customary rate schedules of health care providers and health insurers for the purposes of reviewing, establishing, investigating, or supporting any policy regarding health care insurance rates;
(6) Exercise all the same rights and powers regarding examination and cross-examination of witnesses, presentation of evidence, rights of appeal and other matters as any party in interest appearing before the Insurance Commissioner or the Health Care Authority;
(7) Hire consultants, experts, lawyers, actuaries, economists, statisticians, accountants, clerks, stenographers, support staff, assistants and other personnel necessary to carry out the provisions of this section and sections sixteen and eighteen of this article, which personnel shall be paid from special revenue funds appropriated for the use of the office;
(8) Contract for the services of technically qualified persons in the area of insurance matters to assist in the preparation and presentation of matters before the courts, the Insurance Commissioner, administrative agencies or the Health Care Authority, which persons shall be paid from special revenue funds appropriated for the use of the office;
(9) Make recommendations to the Legislature concerning legislation to assist the Office in the performance of its duties;
(10) Communicate and exchange data and information with other federal or state agencies, divisions, departments or officers and with other interested parties, including, but not limited to, health care providers, insurance companies, consumers or other interested parties; and
(11) Perform other duties to effect the purposes of the Office.
(b) The provisions of this section do not apply to any filing made by an insurance company, or act or order performed or issued by the Commissioner, or complaint filed by a policyholder with the Commissioner prior to the thirtieth day of June, one thousand nine hundred ninety-one. All proceedings and orders in connection with these prior matters shall be governed by the law in effect at the time of the filing, or performance or issuance of the act or order.
(c) Nothing in this section may be construed to authorize the Director to participate in the review and consideration of any rate filing made pursuant to this chapter.
The office of consumer advocacy shall be funded in an amount to be appropriated by the Legislature from special revenue funds.
(b) Neither the commissioner nor any person who receives documents, materials or other information while acting under the authority of the commissioner may be permitted or required to testify in any private civil action concerning any confidential documents, materials or information subject to subsection (a) of this section except as ordered by a court of competent jurisdiction.
(c) In order to assist in the performance of the commissioner's duties, the commissioner may:
(1) Share documents, materials, communications or information, including otherwise confidential and privileged documents, materials or information, with other state, federal and international regulatory agencies, with the National Association of Insurance Commissioners and its affiliates and subsidiaries, and with regulatory and law-enforcement officials of other foreign or domestic jurisdictions: Provided, That the recipient agrees to maintain the confidentiality and privileged status of the document, material, communication or other information;
(2) Receive documents, materials, communications or information, including otherwise confidential and privileged documents, materials or information, from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners and its affiliates and subsidiaries and from regulatory and law-enforcement officials of other foreign or domestic jurisdictions and shall maintain as confidential or privileged any document, material or information received with notice or the understanding that it is confidential or privileged under the laws of the jurisdiction that is the source of the document, material or information; and
(3) Enter into agreements governing sharing and use of information consistent with this subsection.
(1) The insurer has submitted and received approval from the Commissioner of a withdrawal plan; and
(2) The insurer demonstrates to the satisfaction of the Commissioner that allowing the insurer to withdraw would be in the best interest of the insurer, its policyholders and the citizens of this state.
(b) Any insurer that elects to nonrenew or cancel the particular type or line of insurance coverage provided by section five, article seventeen-a of this chapter shall submit to the Insurance Commissioner a withdrawal plan for informational purposes only prior to cancellation or nonrenewal of all its business in this state.
(c) The Commissioner shall promulgate rules pursuant to chapter twenty-nine-a of this code setting forth the criteria for withdrawal plans: Provided, That the procedural rules previously promulgated setting forth the criteria for withdrawal plans, which rules were made effective the twenty-fifth day of September, two thousand four, shall continue in effect in the same manner as if this section had not been amended during the first extraordinary session of the Legislature in two thousand five.
(b) Unless otherwise specified in chapter twenty-three of this code, upon termination of the Workers' Compensation Commission, the duties imposed upon the Workers' Compensation Commission as they relate to the award and payment of disability and death benefits and the review of claims in articles four and five of said chapter will be imposed upon the Employers Mutual Insurance Company established pursuant to article two-c of said chapter, a private carrier offering Workers' Compensation insurance in this state and self-insured employers. Whenever reference is made to the Workers' Compensation Commissioner in those articles, the duty prescribed shall apply to the Employers Mutual Insurance Company, a private carrier or self-insured employer, as applicable.
(c) From the effective date of this enactment, the Insurance Commissioner shall regulate all insurers licensed to transact Workers' Compensation insurance in this state and all of the provisions of this chapter shall apply to such insurers, unless otherwise exempted by statute.
(b) In any case in which an employer is in default to the Old Fund or has liability to the Uninsured Employer Fund or who is in default on a policy or otherwise fails to maintain mandatory workers' compensation coverage, all as defined in article two-c, chapter twenty-three of this code, the commission may bring an action in the circuit court of Kanawha County to enjoin the employer from continuing to operate the employer's business: Provided, That the commissioner may, in his or her sole discretion, and as an alternative to this action pursuant to this subsection, require the employer to file a bond, in the form prescribed by the commissioner, with satisfactory surety in an amount not less than one hundred fifty percent of the total payments, interest and penalties due.
(c) In any action instituted pursuant to subsection (b) of this section, the circuit court shall issue an injunction prohibiting the employer from operating the employer's business if the Insurance Commissioner proves by a preponderance of the evidence, that the employer is in default to the Old Fund or has liability to the uninsured fund or is in policy default or has otherwise failed to maintain mandatory workers' compensation coverage.
(d) Notwithstanding any provision of this code to the contrary, the commissioner shall have the authority to waive penalty and interest accrued on moneys due the Old Fund. The enactment of the provisions of this subsection shall be applied retrospectively to January 1, 2006, and may not be construed to require the commissioner to adjust or otherwise modify any agreements reached with regard to the payment of penalty or interest since that date.
(e) Notwithstanding any provision of this code to the contrary, the Insurance Commissioner may compromise and settle any claims for moneys due to the Old Fund or the Uninsured Employer Fund. Information regarding settlements is subject to chapter twenty-nine-b of this code. The commissioner shall submit to the President of the Senate, the Speaker of the House of Delegates and the Legislative Auditor an annual report summarizing the settlements into which he or she has entered pursuant to this subsection. The summary shall describe the parties involved, the total amount owed and portions paid, and the terms of the settlement.
(1) "Discretionary participant" means the Parkways Authority, offices of the State Auditor, the State Treasurer, the Secretary of State, the Attorney General, the Department of Agriculture, the State Senate and House of Delegates or their related entities, the Supreme Court of Appeals, the State Police and any other spending unit of the state that is required by section twelve, article two, chapter eleven-b of this code to provide a detailed expenditure schedule to the Secretary of Revenue in his or her capacity as Director of the Budget: Provided, That the term "discretionary participant" does not include any executive state entity other than the State Police and the Parkways Authority, any county board of education, any other county entity or its instrumentality or any municipality or its instrumentality.
(2) "Executive state entity" means the Governor's Office and its affiliated entities, Bureau of Senior Services, or any state department, division, fund, office, position, system, survey or other entity of state government, however designated, transferred to and incorporated in one of the executive departments created in section two, article one, chapter five-f of this code, except the State Police, and that is required by section twelve, article two, chapter eleven-b of this code to provide a detailed expenditure schedule to the Secretary of Revenue in his or her capacity as Director of the Budget.
(b) Notwithstanding any provision of this code to the contrary, the commissioner has sole responsibility for managing the workers' compensation risks of all executive state entities and for supervising and controlling the workers' compensation programs for such entities: Provided, That any discretionary participant may participate in the program upon application to the commissioner under the same terms and conditions as are applicable to executive state entities: Provided further, That a discretionary participant is, in accordance with rules governing the program, permitted to withdraw from continued participation in the program.
(c) The commissioner may assess such fees or surcharges on participants in the program necessary to manage the workers' compensation risks of those participants. All premiums, fees and surcharges shall be established in accordance with generally acceptable actuarial standards applicable to workers compensation coverage as to each participant and as to all participants in the aggregate. The commissioner shall establish criteria for assessments of premiums, fees and surcharges designed to provide the most cost efficient coverage for all participants.
(d) The provisions of article three, chapter five-a of this code relating to the Purchasing Division of the Department of Administration do not apply to any contract entered into by the commissioner in furtherance of the requirements of this section: Provided, That those contracts shall be awarded on a competitive basis.
(e) (1) There is hereby established the "State Entities Workers' Compensation Program Fund." All premiums, surcharges, assessments, deposits or any other moneys or funds deposited or otherwise designated or accruing to the fund as well as all earnings payable to it, shall be deposited in the State Treasury to the credit of the fund. Expenditures from the fund shall be for the purposes set forth in this section, are authorized from collections, and shall not revert to the General Fund. The fund shall be a separate and distinct fund upon the books and records of the Auditor and Treasurer, and disbursements therefrom shall be made upon requisitions signed by the Insurance Commissioner.
(2) Any premiums, assessments or deposits or any other moneys or funds received for the purposes of this section shall be invested by the State Treasurer at the request of the commissioner.
(3) The Insurance Commissioner may borrow funds as is determined necessary from the Insurance Commission Fund, created in section thirteen-b, article three, chapter thirty-three of this code, for the initial operations of the workers' compensation program for state entities: Provided, That any borrowed funds shall be deposited to the credit of the State Entities Workers' Compensation Program Fund: Provided, however, That these borrowed funds shall be repaid, without interest, and redeposited to the credit of the Insurance Commission Fund as determined by the Insurance Commissioner.
(f) The commissioner may promulgate emergency rules and shall propose for legislative approval legislative rules, in accordance with the provisions of article three, chapter twenty-nine-a of this code, as are necessary to provide for implementation and enforcement of the provisions of this section.
(g) The commissioner shall submit reports on the status and progress of the program established in this section to the joint committee on government and finance monthly and upon request, together with any other specific information on the program requested by the committee.
(h) The commissioner shall consult with the State Board of
Risk and Insurance Management to solicit any applicable experience
and expertise in establishing and managing a program to provide
insurance coverage to state agencies.
Note: WV Code updated with legislation passed through the 2015 Regular Session
The WV Code Online is an unofficial copy of the annotated WV Code, provided as a convenience. It has NOT been edited for publication, and is not in any way official or authoritative.