(a) This Code section shall apply only to those portions of an automobile policy or a motorcycle policy which relate to bodily injury and property damage liability, personal injury protection, medical payments, physical damage, and uninsured motorists' coverage.
(b) As used in this Code section, the term:
(1) “Policy” means a policy, or policies issued by the same insurer, insuring a natural person as named insured or one or more related individuals resident of the same household and which provides bodily injury coverage and property damage liability coverage, personal injury protection, physical damage coverage, medical payments coverage, or uninsured motorists' protection coverage or any combination of coverages and under which the insured vehicles designated in the policy are of the following types only:
(A) Any motor vehicle of the private passenger, station wagon, or jeep type or a motorcycle that is not used as a public or livery conveyance for passengers nor rented to others; or
(B) Any other four-wheel motor vehicle with a load capacity of 1,500 pounds or less which is not used in the occupation or professional business of the insured; provided, however, that this Code section shall not apply to policies of automobile liability insurance issued under the Georgia Automobile Insurance Plan nor to any policy insuring an automobile which is one of more than four insured under a single policy nor to any policy covering garage, automobile sales agency, repair shop, service station, or public parking place operation hazards.
(2) “Reduction in coverage” shall mean a change made by the insurer which results in a removal of coverage, diminution in scope or less coverage, or the addition of an exclusion. Reduction in coverage shall not include any change, reduction, or elimination of coverage made at the request of the insured. The correction of typographical or scrivener's errors or the application of mandated legislative changes shall not be considered a reduction in coverage.
(3) “Renewal” means issuance and delivery by an insurer of a policy superseding at the end of the policy period a policy previously issued and delivered by the same insurer or issuance and delivery of a certificate or notice extending the term of a policy beyond its policy period or term or the extension of the term of a policy beyond its policy period or term pursuant to a provision for extending the policy by payment of a continuation premium; provided, however, that any policy with a policy period or term of less than six months shall, for the purpose of this Code section, be considered to have successive policy periods ending each six months following its original date of issue and, regardless of its wording, any interim termination by its terms or by refusal to accept premium shall be a cancellation subject to this Code section, except in case of termination under any of the circumstances specified in subsection (f) of this Code section; provided, further, that, for purposes of this Code section, any policy written for a term longer than one year or any policy with no fixed expiration date shall be considered as if written for successive policy periods or terms of one year and any termination by an insurer effective on an anniversary date of the policy shall be deemed a refusal to renew.
(c) No notice of cancellation of a policy issued for delivery in this state shall be mailed or delivered by an insurer or its agent duly authorized to effect such cancellation, except for one or more of the following reasons:
(1) The named insured failed to discharge when due any of his obligations in connection with the payment of premiums on such policy or any installment of premiums or the renewal of premiums, whether payable directly to the insurer or indirectly to the agent. Notwithstanding the provisions of subsection (d) of Code Section 33-24-44 , such notice of cancellation issued to an insured, who is paying on a monthly basis, may be included with the bill issued to the insured, provided that the bill is mailed to the insured at least ten days prior to the due date;
(2) The issuance was obtained through a material misrepresentation;
(3) Any insured violated any of the terms and conditions of the policy;
(4) The named insured failed to disclose fully, if called for in the application, his record for the preceding 36 months of motor vehicle accidents and moving traffic violations;
(5) The named insured failed to disclose in his written application or in response to inquiry by his broker or by the insurer or its agent information necessary for the acceptance or proper rating of the risk;
(6) The named insured made a false or fraudulent claim or knowingly aided or abetted another in the presentation of such a claim;
(7) The named insured or any other operator either resident in the same household or who customarily operates an automobile insured under such policy:
(A) Has, within the 36 months prior to the notice of cancellation, had his driver's license under suspension or revocation;
(B) Is or becomes subject to epilepsy or heart attacks and the individual does not produce a certificate from a physician testifying to his unqualified ability to operate a motor vehicle;
(C) Has an accident record; a conviction record, criminal or traffic; or a physical, mental, or other condition which is such that his operation of an automobile might endanger the public safety;
(D) Has within a three-year period prior to the notice of cancellation been addicted to the use of narcotics or other drugs;
(E) Has been convicted or forfeited bail during the 36 months immediately preceding the notice of cancellation for:
(i) Any felony;
(ii) Criminal negligence resulting in death, homicide, or assault arising out of the operation of a motor vehicle;
(iii) Operating a motor vehicle while in an intoxicated condition or while under the influence of drugs;
(iv) Being intoxicated while in or about an automobile or while having custody of an automobile;
(v) Leaving the scene of an accident without stopping to report;
(vi) Theft or unlawful taking of a motor vehicle; or
(vii) Making false statements in an application for a driver's license; or
(F) Has been convicted of or forfeited bail for three or more violations, within the 36 months immediately preceding the notice of cancellation, of any law, ordinance, or regulation limiting the speed of motor vehicles or any of the provisions of the motor vehicle laws of any state, violation of which constitutes a misdemeanor, whether or not the violations were repetitions of the same offense or different offenses;
(8) The insured automobile:
(A) Is so mechanically defective that its operation might endanger public safety;
(B) Is used in carrying passengers for hire or compensation; provided, however, that the use of an automobile for a car pool shall not be considered use of an automobile for hire or compensation;
(C) Is used in the transportation of flammables or explosives;
(D) Is an authorized emergency vehicle; or
(E) Has changed in shape or condition during the policy period so as to increase substantially the risk.
(d) No notice of cancellation of a policy to which this Code section applies shall be effective unless mailed or delivered as prescribed in Code Section 33-24-44 . The insurer shall provide the reason or reasons for such cancellation as required by Chapter 39 of this title.
(e)(1) No insurer shall refuse to renew a policy to which this Code section applies unless a written notice of nonrenewal is mailed or delivered in person to the named insured. Such notice stating the time when nonrenewal will be effective, which shall not be less than 30 days from the date of mailing or delivery of such notice of nonrenewal or such longer period as may be provided in the contract or by statute, shall be delivered as provided in subsection (d) of Code Section 33-24-14 , in person, or by depositing the notice in the United States mail to be dispatched by at least first-class mail to the last address of record of the insured and of the lienholder, where applicable, and receiving the receipt provided by the United States Postal Service or such other evidence of mailing as prescribed or accepted by the United States Postal Service.
(2) The insurer shall specify in writing the reason or reasons for such nonrenewal as required by Chapter 39 of this title.
(3) No notice refusing the renewal of a policy issued for delivery in this state shall be mailed or delivered by an insurer or its agent duly authorized to effect such notice of nonrenewal for the following reasons:
(A) Lack of, lack of potential for, or failure to agree to a writing of supporting insurance business;
(B) A change in the insurer's eligibility rules or underwriting rules, provided that this subparagraph shall not apply to a change in such rules if the change applies uniformly within a specific class or territory and such change has been approved by the Commissioner under subparagraph (B) of paragraph (4) of this subsection;
(C) With respect to any driver or with respect to any automobile or its replacement, except when the replacement is such that together with other relevant underwriting or eligibility rules it would not have been insured as an original policy risk of the insurer, for two or fewer of the following within the preceding 36 month period:
(i) Accidents involving two or more motor vehicles in which the driver of the insured automobile under this subparagraph was not at fault;
(ii) Uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage claims;
(iii) Comprehensive coverage claims; and
(iv) Towing or road service coverage claims;
(D) Age, sex, location of residence address within the state, race, creed, national origin, ancestry, or marital status;
(E) Lawful occupation, provided that the insured automobile is not used in such occupation and provided, further, that such automobile would have been insured as an original policy risk of the insurer when such occupation is considered together with other relevant underwriting or eligibility rules of the insurer;
(F) Military service, provided that the named insured has no change of legal residence from this state;
(G) Number of years of driving experience of a named insured or of any other operator who is either a resident in the same household or customarily an operator of an automobile insured under such policy;
(H) Accidents or violations which occurred more than 36 months prior to the expiration date or anniversary date of the policy or solely for claims paid or payable pursuant to the policy during the preceding 36 month period which did not aggregate in an amount in excess of $750.00;
(I) One claim against the policy based on fault if such coverage has been in effect continuously for at least 36 preceding months;
(J) Notwithstanding subparagraph (I) of this paragraph, two claims against the policy based on fault if such coverage has been in effect continuously for at least 72 preceding months; and
(K) Factors not relating to the claims record, driving record, or driving ability of the named insured or of any other operator who is either a resident in the same household or customarily an operator of an automobile insured under such policy.
(4)(A) Notwithstanding paragraph (3) of this subsection, any reason set forth in subsection (c) of this Code section, relating to cancellation, shall also constitute a reason for nonrenewal.
(B) If the insurer demonstrates to the satisfaction of the Commissioner that renewal would violate the provisions of this title or would be hazardous to its policyholders or the public, subparagraph (B) or (K) of paragraph (3) shall not apply.
(5)(A) If the insurer complies with paragraph (1) of this subsection, no claim or action may be maintained with respect to a policy which is not renewed unless the named insured files a written notice with the insurer before the time at which nonrenewal becomes effective. The notice shall specify the manner in which the failure to renew is alleged to be unlawful under this subsection. In any subsequent action asserting a violation of this subsection, no violation of this subsection may be alleged other than the specific allegations contained in the notice filed by the named insured.
(B) In addition to other requirements, a notice of nonrenewal shall contain the provisions of subparagraph (A) of this paragraph, in substantially the form which follows:
Code Section 33-24-45 of the Official Code of Georgia Annotated provides that this insurer must, upon request, furnish you with the reasons for the failure to renew this policy. If you wish to assert that the nonrenewal is unlawful, you must file a written notice with this insurer before the time at which the nonrenewal becomes effective. The notice must specify the manner in which the failure to renew is alleged to be unlawful.
If you do not file the written notice, you may not later assert a claim or action against this insurer based upon an unlawful nonrenewal.”
(6)(A) Notwithstanding paragraph (3) of this subsection, the termination of an agency relationship shall be valid as a reason for a failure to renew a policy. In such case, if the named insured wishes to retain the policy with the particular insurer, the insured shall locate another agent of the insurer and apply for the policy with another agent of the insurer before the time at which the nonrenewal becomes effective. Upon receipt of the application, the insurer shall treat the application as a renewal and not as an original writing. Nothing in this subparagraph shall abridge or supersede contractual rights of the terminated agency or the insurer, provided that these contractual rights do not adversely affect the privilege of the named insured to apply for renewal through another agent of the insurer.
(B) A notice of nonrenewal based upon the termination of an agency relationship shall contain the provisions of subparagraph (A) of this paragraph, in substantially the form which follows:
Your policy has not been renewed because your present agent no longer represents this insurer. You have the option of procuring coverage through your present agent or retaining this policy by applying through another agent of this insurer. Code Section 33-24-45 of the Official Code of Georgia Annotated provides that if you will locate another agent of this insurer and apply for this policy before the time at which the nonrenewal becomes effective, this insurer will treat the application as a renewal and not as an application for a new policy.”
(f) Subsection (e) of this Code section shall not apply in case of:
(1) Nonpayment of premium for the expiring policy;
(2) Failure of the insured to pay the premium as required by the insurer for renewal;
(3) The insurer having manifested its willingness to renew by delivering a renewal policy, renewal certificate, or other evidence of renewal to the named insured or his or her representative or by offering to issue a renewal policy, certificate, or other evidence of renewal or having manifested such intention by any other means; or
(4) A reduction in coverage where an insurer provides a written notice of a reduction in coverage to the named insured or his or her representative no less than 30 days prior to the effective date of the proposed reduction in coverage; provided that such notice shall be in a separate document with the words “NOTICE OF REDUCTION IN COVERAGE” written in all capital letters in at least 12 point type. Such notice shall be delivered as provided in subsection (d) of Code Section 33-24-14 , in person, or by depositing the notice in the United States mail to be dispatched by at least first-class mail to the last address of record of the insured and receiving the receipt provided by the United States Postal Service or such other evidence of mailing as prescribed or accepted by the United States Postal Service.
(g) Notwithstanding the failure of an insurer to comply with this Code section, termination of any coverage under the policy either by cancellation or nonrenewal shall be effective on the effective date of any other policy providing similar coverage on the same motor vehicle or any replacement of coverage.
(h) Renewal or continuation of a policy shall not constitute a waiver or estoppel with respect to ground for cancellation which existed before the effective date of the renewal or continuance.
(i) When a policy is canceled other than for nonpayment of premium or in the event of a refusal to renew or continue a policy, the insurer shall notify the named insured of his possible eligibility for insurance through the Georgia Automobile Insurance Plan. Such notice shall accompany or be included in the notice of cancellation or the notice of intent not to renew or not to continue the policy and shall state that such notice of availability of the Georgia Automobile Insurance Plan is given pursuant to this Code section.
(j) There shall be no liability on the part of and no cause of action of any nature shall arise against the Commissioner or his employees or against any insurer, its authorized representatives, its agents, its employees, or any firm, person, or corporation furnishing to the insurer information as to reasons for cancellation or nonrenewal for any statement made by any of them in any written notice of cancellation or nonrenewal or in any other communication, oral or written, specifying the reasons for cancellation or nonrenewal or providing information pertaining to the reasons for cancellation or nonrenewal or for statements made or evidence submitted at any formal or informal hearing conducted in connection with the reasons for cancellation or nonrenewal of the insured's policy.
(k) This Code section shall not apply to any policy which has been in effect less than 60 days at the time notice of cancellation is mailed or delivered by the insurer unless it is a renewal of a policy. Such policies shall be canceled in accordance with Code Section 33-24-44 .
(l) Return of unearned premium, if any, due to cancellations as to which this Code section applies shall be processed in accordance with Code Section 33-24-44 .
(m) Notice to the insured shall not be required by this Code section when a policy is canceled by an insurance premium finance company under a power of attorney contained in an insurance premium finance agreement if notification of the existence of the premium finance agreement has been given to the insurer in accordance with the provisions of Chapter 22 of this title. However, the insurer shall comply with the provisions of subsection (d) of Code Section 33-22-13 pertaining to notice to a governmental agency, mortgagee, or other third party. Such notice shall be delivered as provided in subsection (d) of Code Section 33-24-14 , in person, or by depositing the notice in the United States mail to be dispatched by at least first-class mail to the last address of record of such governmental agency, mortgagee, or other third party and receiving the receipt provided by the United States Postal Service or such other evidence of mailing as prescribed or accepted by the United States Postal Service.
(n) Cancellation by the insured shall be accomplished as provided in Code Section 33-24-44.1 .
(o) An insured may request a review by the Commissioner if the insured believes that his or her policy has been canceled or nonrenewed in violation of this Code section. Such request must be filed with the Commissioner within 15 days of receipt of a notice of cancellation or nonrenewal. A review of the cancellation or nonrenewal shall be conducted within 30 days of said request. The Commissioner shall notify the insured and the insurer of his or her decision within the 30 day period. During the pendency of such review, the policy shall continue in full force and effect and the Commissioner shall specify by rule or regulation the method of payment of premium due and the disposition of premium refunds, if any. The Commissioner shall either require that the policy be reinstated or renewed or may uphold the nonrenewal or cancellation. In the event the Commissioner determines that an insurer's cancellation or nonrenewal action constitutes an unfair act or practice, the Commissioner may take action as authorized by this title. Following the completion of any review provided by this subsection, an insured may request a hearing pursuant to Code Section 33-2-17 , and nothing in this subsection shall be deemed to waive an insured's right to request such a hearing.
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