Bill Summary for S 496 (2021)

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Summary date: 

Jun 28 2022

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View NCGA Bill Details2021
Senate Bill 496 (Public) Filed Thursday, April 1, 2021
AN ACT TO AMEND AND TO MAKE CLARIFYING CHANGES TO VARIOUS INSURANCE LAWS, AS RECOMMENDED BY THE DEPARTMENT OF INSURANCE, TO AMEND LAWS RELATED TO BROKER AND INSURANCE PRODUCER LICENSES, TO ALLOW SELF-INSURANCE TO SERVE AS PROOF OF FINANCIAL RESPONSIBILITY, TO PROHIBIT DISCLOSURE OF REPLACEMENT COST ESTIMATORS, TO REQUIRE CERTAIN APPOINTMENTS TO THE NORTH CAROLINA REINSURANCE FACILITY'S BOARD OF GOVERNORS, TO AMEND A REPORTING DATE FOR MEMBERS OF THE NORTH CAROLINA INSURANCE UNDERWRITING ASSOCIATION, TO EXEMPT CERTAIN EMPLOYMENT CONTRACTS ENTERED INTO BY THE DEPARTMENT OF INSURANCE, TO AMEND INNOVATION WAIVER EXEMPTIONS, TO REVISE INSURANCE REQUIREMENTS FOR TRANSPORTATION NETWORK COMPANIES, TO AUTHORIZE FUNDING BY THE NORTH CAROLINA GLOBAL TRANSPARK AUTHORITY, TO AMEND THE DUE DATE FOR HOME INSPECTION REPORTS, TO SHORTEN THE TIME FRAME TO RETAKE THE HOME INSPECTOR EXAMINATION, AND TO AMEND MINIMUM INSULATION REQUIREMENTS.
Intro. by Johnson, Edwards, McInnis.

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Bill summary

Conference report adds the following content to the 3rd edition.

Part XIII.

Makes the following changes to Article 33, GS Chapter 58. Changes terminology throughout the Article to refer to an "insurance producer," replacing the "agent" terminology currently used. Additionally, replaces "kinds of insurance" language to instead refer to "lines of authority." Revises the Article's defined terms as follows. Defines broker to require licensure as an insurance producer, rather than a licensed agent; makes conforming changes throughout to reference insurance producers rather than brokers in the context of licensees. No longer explicitly includes limited representatives in the definition of insurance producer. Includes cancellation of the relationship between a limited representative and the insurance or termination of a limited representative's authority within the meaning of the term termination. 

Amends GS 58-33-15 to eliminate the annual renewal of restricted licenses under GS 58-33-25(n).

Amends GS 58-33-17 concerning limited licenses for rental car companies, and GS 58-33-18 concerning limited licenses for self-service storage companies, to refer to the named applicant's competency as an agent rather than insurance agent. 

Amends GS 58-33-20, concerning representation of an insurer. Specifies that insurance producers or limited representatives who act on behalf of the insurer and solicit or negotiate an application for insurance of any kind represent the insurer, and insurance producers who acts as brokers and solicit an application for insurance of any kind represent the insured or their beneficiary (previously, did not specify that the actions must be on behalf of either the insurer or the insured or their beneficiary). 

Eliminates outdated licensing requirements set out in GS 58-33-26(c); makes conforming changes throughout the Article to reference the applicable language of subsection (c1) rather than the now eliminated subsection (c). Eliminates reference to licensed brokers; makes conforming changes throughout the Article to eliminate reference and provisions related to broker licenses. Expands the exemptions under subsection (n) to provide that licensure as a limited representative is not required of an officer, director, or employee of a limited representative so long as the officer, director, or employee does not receive any commission on policies written or sold to insure risks residing, locating, or to be performed in the State, except for indirect receipts of commissions in the form of salary, benefits, or distributions, and the individual's duties meet one of three qualifying criteria. Makes technical and clarifying changes to the prohibitions of subsection (p).

Amends GS 58-33-30 to allow insurance producers applicants to satisfy the education requirements by completing a producer training course approved by the Commissioner of Insurance that is offered by or under a property, casualty, life or accident and health or sickness insurance company (was, a property or liability or life or health insurance company) admitted to do business in the State. 

Eliminates outdated language in GS 58-33-40.

Expands GS 58-33-48 to require criminal history checks of applicants for a limited representative license in the same manner as those required for applicants for an insurance producer license.

Expands the required notifications to the Commissioner set out in GS 58-33-56 to require notifications of terminations relating to an insurer's relationship with a limited representative. Makes all provisions applicable to termination of producers applicable to termination of limited representatives, including the right to submit written comments following notice and the granting of limited civil immunity for statements or information provided. Extends the confidentiality provisions to include materials or information furnished by a limited representative. Extends authority to suspend or revoke licenses and fine licensees for failure to make the required reports or make reports with actual malice to include limited representatives within the scope of authority. 

Makes clarifying changes to GS 58-33-70. 

Regarding commissions under GS 58-33-82, adds that limited representatives cannot pay a commission, service fee, or other valuable consideration to a person for selling, soliciting, or negotiating insurance in the State if that person is required to be licensed under the Article and is not so licensed. Adds new subsection (d1) to allow insurance producers to indirectly accept any commission, fee, or other valuable consideration for business brokered through an insurance producer that is appropriately appointed; makes conforming changes to subsection (d). Allows for commissions, fees, or other valuable consideration for the sale, solicitation, or negotiation of insurance to be assigned or directed to be paid to a limited representative in connection with renewals of insurance business originally sold by or through the licensed person or for other deferred commissions. 

Amends GS 58-33-125 to increase the fee from $10 to $11 for the appointment of an individual insurance producer. Repeals subsection (e) that allowed for resident licensees to obtain duplicate photo bearing licenses and included related authorities for the Commissioner. 

Amends GS 58-33-135 to provide for appointment of an advisory committee for property and casualty insurance licensees (was, fire and casualty insurance licensees) and an advisory committee for life and accident and health or sickness insurance licensees (was, life and health insurance licensees). Requires inclusion of a licensed accident and health or sickness insurance producer rather than a licensed health insurance agent on the life and accident and health or sickness advisory committee. 

Part XIV.

Makes conforming changes to various statutes of GS Chapter 58 to reflect the amendments to Article 33, GS Chapter 58.

Makes the definition of insurance producer in GS 58-2-128 conform to that of Article 33, as amended, to no longer explicitly include limited representatives. 

Amends GS 58-2-185 to include agents of companies and insurance producers in the statute's recordkeeping requirements. 

Amends GS 58-3-155 to define broker by statutory cross-reference to GS 58-33-10, as amended. 

Amends GS 58-35-10 to refer to insurance producers with property and casualty lines of authority rather than a fire and casualty insurance producer. Makes conforming changes to GS 58-36-1; and GS 58-37-35.

Amends GS 58-42-10 to direct that all risk sharing plans require participation by all insurance producers licensed and appointed to represent the insurances for that kind of insurance (previously, did not require appointment qualification).

Amends GS 58-45-35 to provide that licensed insurance producers appointed as an agent of a company that is a member of the Association is not deemed an agent of the NC Insurance Underwriting Association (previously, did include appointment qualification). 

Amends GS 58-56-2, as amended, to exclude insurance producers licensed who sell life or accident and health or sickness insurance (was, life or health insurance) whose activities are limited exclusively to the sale of insurance from the definition of a third party administrator. 

Amends GS 58-65-115 to refer to life and accident and health or sickness (was, life and health) insurance producers.

Part XV.

Amends GS 20-279.33 to deem a certificate of self-insurance issued by the Commissioner of Motor Vehicles as evidence of insurance to satisfy the financial responsibility requirements for the issuance or restoration of a driver’s license or the allowance of limited driving privileges under GS 20-7, GS 20-13.2, GS 20-16.1, GS 20-19, and GS 20-179.3. 

Amends GS 20-279.33A, which qualifies certain religious organizations as self-insurers if seven specified conditions are met, to no longer require that the organization's members operate five or more registered vehicles owned or leased by them, but rather generally require that the members operate registered vehicles owned or leased by them.

Amends GS 20-7 to prohibit the Division of Motor Vehicles from restricting a person from operating a nonfleet motor vehicle solely because the person furnished proof of liability in the form of a certificate of self-insurance issued under GS 20-279.33 or GS 20-279.33A. 

Part XVI.

Enacts new GS 58-3-137 prohibiting requiring an insurance company or its designated agent to provide the replacement cost estimator or other underwriting or related proprietary business information of an insurer underwriting an insurance policy covering real property as a condition precedent or condition subsequent to the lending of money or extension of credit to be secured by real property. Defines proprietary business information of an insurer to mean information, regardless of form or characteristics, which is owned or controlled by an insurer, or a person or an affiliated person who seeks acquisition of controlling stock in a domestic stock insurer or controlling company, and which: (1) is intended to be and is treated by the insurer or the person as private in that the disclosure of the information would cause harm to the insurer, the person, or the company's business operations and that the information has not been disclosed unless disclosed pursuant to a statutory requirement, an order of a court or administrative body, or a private agreement that provides that the information will not be released to the public and (2) is not otherwise readily ascertainable or publicly available by proper means by other persons from another source in the same configuration as requested by the office. Exempts sales of insurance regulated under Articles 35 (Insurance Premium Financing), 57 (Regulation of Credit Insurance), and 58 (Life Insurance and Viatical Settlements) of GS Chapter 58 or under 12 USC Sections 4901-4910. Allows the Department of Insurance to investigate the affairs of any person to whom this statute applies to determine whether the person has committed a violation; if a violation is knowingly committed, the violator is subject to the same procedures and penalties as provided in Articles 3 (General Regulations for Insurance) and 63 (Unfair Trade Practices) of GS Chapter 58. Effective August 1, 2022.

Part XVII.

Amends GS 58-37-35 to require that the Commissioner of Insurance appoint one member of the Board of Governors of the North Carolina Motor Vehicle Reinsurance Facility who must be selected from two nominees submitted by the Alliance of Insurance Agents of North Carolina. Makes a conforming decrease by one in the number of members the Commissioner must appoint to the Board who are required to be fire and casualty insurance agents licensed in the state and actively engaged in writing motor vehicle insurance in the state.

Part XVIII.

Amends GS 58-45-71 by changing the date by which member companies of the North Carolina Insurance Underwriting Association must annually report to the Commissioner of Insurance on the amount of the homeowners’ coverage written in the preceding calendar year by that member company in the beach and coastal areas from February 1 to April 1.

Part XIX.

Amends GS 58-2-25 by providing that if the Commissioner of Insurance considers it to be necessary for the Department of Commerce to properly execute its work to contract with persons for financial, legal, examination, and other services, the contracts are not subject to: (1) GS 114-2.3 (requiring every agency, institution, department, bureau, board, or commission of the State, authorized by law to retain private counsel, to obtain written permission from the Attorney General prior to employing private counsel); (2) GS 147-17 (setting out when counsel can be employed with the Governor’s permission in cases wherein the State is interested); and (3) Articles 3 (Purchases and Contracts), 3C (Contracts to Obtain Consultant Services), and 8 (Public Contracts) of GS Chapter 143 and any rules and procedures adopted under those Articles concerning procurement, contracting, and contract review.

Part XX.

Amends the definition of the term member insurer under GS 58-62-16, as it applies to Article 62, Life and Health Insurance Guaranty Association, to include in the term any full-service corporation (was, any hospital or medical service corporation) governed by Article 65 of GS Chapter 58 and that is licensed or holds a license to transact in this state any kind of insurance or health maintenance organization business for which coverage is sought under GS 58-62-21 (coverage and limitations).

Part XXI.

Amends GS 169-8, by adding that nothing in GS Chapter 169 is to be construed as allowing the North Carolina Innovation Council or an applicable State agency to grant an innovation waiver that alters or amends: (1) Article 36 of GS Chapter 58 (North Carolina Rate Bureau), (2) Article 37 of GS Chapter 58 (North Carolina Motor Vehicle Reinsurance Facility), or (3) all financial and solvency requirements that apply to nonadmitted domestic surplus lines insurers.

Part XXII.

Amends GS 20-280.4, which sets out requirements for the primary automobile insurance that TNC drivers or transportation network companies must maintain, as follows. Amends the automobile insurance requirements that apply while a TNC driver is logged on to the transportation network company’s online enabled application or platform but is not providing TNC services, to require combined uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage that complies with the specified requirements (removing the limits for combined uninsured and underinsured motorist bodily injury coverage that at least equals the bodily injury liability limits of the policy). Also amends the automobile insurance requirements that apply while a TNC driver is engaged in TNC Service, to require (1) primary automobile liability insurance in the amount of at least $1 million (was, at least $1.5 million) because of death of one or more persons, bodily injury to persons, injury to or destruction of property of others, or any combination thereof, in any one accident and (2) combined uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage that complies with the specified requirements (removes the limits for combined uninsured and underinsured motorist bodily injury coverage of at least $1 million). Effective October 1, 2022.

Part XXIII.

Authorizes the North Carolina Global TransPark Authority (Authority) to receive and administer grant funding from the National Telecommunications and Information Administration for the expansion of broadband infrastructure and access in Lenoir County. Allows the Department of Information Technology to assist in administering the grant funds if requested. Expires June 30, 2027.

Part XXIV.

Provides that if Senate Bill 372 becomes law, then GS 143-151.58(a) is further amended by requiring that an inspector performing a home inspection to give the person the report within three business days after the inspection was performed if the parties to the inspection did not agree on a report due date in a written agreement (removes the alternative of providing the person the report within ten business days after the inspection was performed if the report describes a deficiency as a violation of the State Residential Building Code). Effective October 1, 2022.

Part XXV.

Amends GS 143-151.57 to allow an individual applying for a license as a home inspector to take the required exam only once every 90 days (was, every 180 days).

Part XXVI.

Amends Sections 20.20 (concerning the required changes to the Residential Spaces Insulation Rule) and 20.10A (concerning the required changes to the Commercial Spaces Insulation Rule) of SL 2022-6 to require that supply and return air ducts located in ventilated or non-ventilated unconditioned attic spaces be insulated to a minimum R-6.0. Makes conforming changes. Applies retroactively to March 17, 2022.

Part XXVII.

Provides that if Senate Bill 372 becomes law, then GS 160D-706 is amended to correct the statutory cross-references to GS 160A-174(b). 

Changes the act's titles.