Section 8-32-10

Enforcement provisions.

(a) The commissioner may conduct investigations or examinations of providers, administrators, insurers, or other persons to enforce this chapter and protect service contract holders in this state. Upon request of the commissioner, the provider shall make all accounts, books, and records concerning service contracts sold in this state by the provider available to the commissioner which are necessary to enable the commissioner to reasonably determine compliance or noncompliance with this chapter.

(b) Providers, administrators, or insurers being examined shall pay to the commissioner the travel expense to and from such examination, a living expense allowance at reasonable rates customary for the examination in the state where the examination takes place and as established or adopted by regulation of the commissioner, and the compensation of the examiners making the examination, upon presentation by the commissioner of a detailed account of the allowances and expenses. The account may be presented periodically during the course of the examination or at the termination of the examination, as the commissioner deems proper. All payments collected by the commissioner shall be paid into the special fund provided by Section 8-32-3(c) and used to pay the cost of the examination of providers.

(c) The commissioner may take action which is necessary or appropriate to enforce this chapter and the commissioner's regulations and orders, and to protect service contract holders in this state.

(d) If a provider has violated this chapter or the commissioner's regulations or orders, the commissioner may issue an order directed to that provider (i) to cease and desist from committing violations of this chapter or the commissioner's regulations or orders; (ii) prohibiting that provider from selling or offering for sale service contracts in violation of this chapter; or (iii) imposing a civil penalty on that provider; or (iv) any combination of the foregoing, as applicable.

(1) A person aggrieved by an order issued under this subsection (d) may request a hearing before the commissioner. The hearing request shall be filed with the commissioner within 20 days of the date the commissioner's order is effective.

(2) If a hearing is requested, pending the hearing and the decision by the commissioner, the effective date of the order automatically shall be suspended until completion of the hearing and final decision of the commissioner.

(3) At the hearing, the burden shall be on the commissioner to show why the order issued pursuant to this subsection is justified. The provisions of Sections 27-2-30, 27-2-31, and 27-2-32 shall apply to a hearing requested under this subsection (d).

(e) The commissioner may bring an action in the Circuit Court of Montgomery County, Alabama, for an injunction or other appropriate relief to enjoin threatened or existing violations of this chapter or of the commissioner's orders or regulations. An action filed under this section also may seek restitution on behalf of persons aggrieved by a violation of this chapter or orders or regulations of the commissioner.

(f) A person who is found to have violated this chapter may be ordered to pay to the commissioner a civil penalty in an amount determined by the commissioner of not more than five hundred dollars ($500) per violation and no more than ten thousand dollars ($10,000) in the aggregate for all violations of a similar nature. For purposes of this section, violations shall be of a similar nature if the violation consists of the same or similar course of conduct, action, or practice, irrespective of the number of times the act, conduct, or practice which is determined to be a violation of this chapter occurred. All civil penalties collected shall be paid into the special fund provided by Section 8-32-3(c) and used in the supervision and examination of providers and otherwise in the administration of this chapter.

(Acts 1997, No. 97-445, p. 753, §10.)