(a) The department shall institute a proceeding against a licensee for the imposition of licensee penalties by filing and serving a complaint as to the licensee, giving notice thereof to the licensee and all insurers the licensee is licensed or appointed to represent.
(b)(1) Any person having an interest and feeling aggrieved may file a complaint with the commissioner against any licensee seeking the imposition of licensee penalties against the licensee. The third-party complaint shall be in writing and shall specify in reasonable detail the charge or charges made, the truth of which shall be sworn to by the complainant or some other person who has knowledge of the facts averred.
(2) If, upon reviewing a third-party complaint, the commissioner finds that the charges made therein constitute grounds for the imposition of licensee penalties against the licensee, the commissioner shall forthwith notify the licensee against whom the complaint has been made and serve the licensee with a copy of the complaint and giving notice thereof to all insurers the licensee is licensed or appointed to represent.
(c) The commissioner shall by regulation prescribe the methods through which service of a complaint and other documents are made, which methods may include personal service, service by first class mail or certified mail, service by publication, service by electronic means, or such other alternative or dual methods of service as the commissioner may determine to be reasonably calculated to furnish notice under the circumstances.
(d) Within 30 days after service upon the licensee of the copy of the complaint, the licensee shall file with the commissioner an answer in writing to the charges, either specifically admitting or denying or specifically confessing and avoiding each of the charges made. If the licensee against whom the complaint has been made stands in default for answer, the charges set forth in the complaint shall be taken as admitted and the commissioner may enter an order imposing such licensee penalties as may be warranted without the need for a hearing.
(e) After receipt of the licensee's answer, the commissioner shall fix a time and place for the hearing of the complaint at the commissioner's office or elsewhere as provided in Section 27-2-30 and shall serve notice thereof upon the licensee and any third-party complainant as provided by regulation adopted as directed in subsection (c) of this section. Such notice shall be served at least 20 days before the date fixed for the hearing.
(f) At the time fixed by the commissioner for the hearing, the complaint shall be heard before the commissioner or a deputy appointed by the commissioner, and any third-party complainant and licensee may each be represented by an attorney-at-law and may give the testimony and offer proof, documentary or ore tenus, as to the truth of the charges and any denial thereof.
(g) The commissioner shall have any power of subpoena, subpoena duces tecum or discovery obtaining in the circuit courts of this state, and any party shall have the right, upon request in writing filed with the commissioner, to cause a writ of subpoena to issue out of the office of the commissioner which shall be signed by the commissioner or his or her deputy and directed to the sheriff of any county of this state returnable to the office of the commissioner. The cost of issuing and serving subpoenas and witness fees shall be the same as such costs and fees in the circuit court and shall be recoverable by the prevailing party from the other party. The commissioner shall tax such costs, and, upon the same not being paid within a period of 10 days therefrom, payment thereof may be enforced in any court having jurisdiction over the person of the defaulting party.
(h) The testimony may be taken orally or by deposition, and any party shall have the right of introducing proof by deposition as may obtain in the circuit courts of this state.
(i) The commissioner or a deputy appointed by the commissioner shall preside over the hearing and shall make a written finding of facts upon which his or her decisions shall be based.
(j) The commissioner or the deputy shall, as soon as practicable after the conclusion of the hearing, make a ruling in writing fully disposing of the complaint and a copy of the ruling shall be served upon any third-party complainant, the licensee and all insurers represented by the licensee, as provided by regulation adopted as directed in subsection (c) of this section, addressed to the licensee at the address shown by the records of the commissioner.
(k) Pursuant to such hearing, if the commissioner or deputy finds that the grounds therefor exist under the applicable statute, the commissioner or deputy may impose licensee penalties against the licenses of the licensee complained against.
(l) An order imposing licensee penalties may be appealed within the time stated in, and according to the provisions of, Section 27-2-32.