Whereas, The deferred operation of this act would tend to defeat its purpose, which is to provide for a right to appeal at-fault accident rulings for consumers of the commonwealth, therefore it is hereby declared to be an emergency law, necessary for the immediate preservation of the public convenience.
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Court assembled, and by the authority of the same as follows:
SECTION 1. Section 1 of chapter 175E of the General Laws, as appearing in the 2006 Official Edition, is hereby amended by inserting before the definition of “Commissioner” the following definition:-
“Board”, the board of appeals on motor vehicle liability policies and bonds established in section 8A of chapter 26.
SECTION 2. Said chapter 175E is hereby further amended by inserting after section 7 the following section:-
Section 7A. An insured aggrieved by a determination of an insurer as to the application of a provision of an insurer’s safe driver insurance plan or merit rating plan placed on file with the commissioner pursuant to regulations promulgated in accordance with section 10 of this chapter and section 15 of chapter 175A, may, within 30 days thereafter, file a written complaint with the board. That complaint shall be accompanied by a filing fee to be determined by the board.
The board shall provide the insurer and the insured with at least 10 days notice of any hearing held under this section. If, after a hearing, the board finds that the application of the safe driver insurance plan or merit rating plan was in accordance with the standards promulgated by the board and the insurer’s provisions of the safe driver insurance plan or merit rating plan placed on file with the commissioner, it shall deny the appeal. If the board finds that the insurer’s application of the safe driver insurance plan, merit rating plan or determination of fault was not in accordance with those standards and provisions, it shall order the insurer to make the appropriate premium adjustment and the insurer shall notify the merit rating board and any other data collection agency the insurer reported the surcharge or at fault accident to, to remove the insured’s corresponding surcharge points and at fault determination. The board may designate a person to act as a hearing officer pursuant to this section. The hearing officer shall file a memorandum of his findings or order in the office of the board, and shall send a copy to the insurer and the insured.
Any insured or insurer aggrieved by a finding or order of the board may appeal therefrom to the superior court department of the trial court, pursuant to section 14 of chapter 30A. The appellant shall file with his appeal a duly certified copy of the complaint and of the finding and order thereon and, if the appeal is taken from a finding and order of the board in respect to a cancellation, the clerk of the court shall immediately, upon the filing of such an appeal, give written notice of the filing thereof to the registrar of motor vehicles and to the appellee. That court shall hold a hearing on the appeal after such notice to the parties as it deems reasonable. The court shall have such jurisdiction in equity to review all questions of fact and law, to affirm or reverse the board’s finding or order and to make an appropriate decree. The court may allow the appeal, finding or order to be amended. The decision of the court shall be final. The clerk of the court shall, within 2 days after entry thereof, send an attested copy of the decree to each of the parties, to the commissioner and to the registrar of motor vehicles. The court may make an order as to costs as it deems equitable. The court may make reasonable rules to secure prompt hearings on such appeals and a speedy disposition thereof.
SECTION 3. The commissioner of insurance shall file a report with the joint committee on financial services no later than July 1, 2009, or within 90 days of the effective date of this act, providing a summary of efforts made to facilitate the transition of exclusive representative producers to voluntary agents and the outcome of those efforts, including the remaining number of non-appointed agents in the market. The report shall further examine private passenger automobile insurance premium payment plans and down payments required by insurers in the voluntary and residual market. The commissioner shall meet with all exclusive representative producers and insurers writing private passenger automobile insurance in the commonwealth who request such a meeting to provide agents with technical assistance and encourage voluntary contracts between agents and insurers. The meetings shall take place within 30 days of the effective date of this act.
Approved April 15, 2009