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(a) As used in this Code section, the term:
(1) “Gift certificate” shall have the same meaning as provided in Code Section 10-1-393 .
(2) “Policy” means any insuring bond issued by an insurer.
(3) “Store gift card” shall have the same meaning as provided in Code Section 10-1-393 .
(b) The following acts or practices are deemed unfair methods of competition and unfair and deceptive acts or practices in the business of insurance:
(1) Making, publishing, disseminating, circulating, or placing before the public or causing directly or indirectly to be made, published, disseminated, circulated, or placed before the public in a newspaper, magazine, or other publication or in the form of a notice, circular, pamphlet, letter, or poster, or over any radio station or in any other way an advertisement, announcement, or statement containing any assertion, representation, or statement with respect to the business of insurance or with respect to any person in the conduct of his insurance business, which statement, assertion, or representation is untrue, deceptive, or misleading;
(2) Making, issuing, circulating, or causing to be made, issued, or circulated any estimate, illustration, circular, or statement misrepresenting the terms of any policy issued or to be issued, the benefits or advantages promised thereby, or the dividends or share of the surplus to be received thereon; making any false or misleading statement as to the dividends or share of surplus previously paid on similar policies; making any misleading representation or any misrepresentation as to the financial condition of any insurer, as to the legal reserve system upon which any life insurer operates; using any name or title of any policy or class of policies misrepresenting the true nature thereof; or making any misrepresentation to any policyholder insured in any company for the purpose of inducing or tending to induce the policyholder to lapse, forfeit, or surrender his insurance. A dividend estimate prepared on company forms and clearly indicating, in type equal in size to that used in figures showing amounts of estimated dividends, that the dividends are based on estimates made by the company based upon past experience of the company shall not be considered misrepresentation and false advertising within the meaning of this paragraph;
(3) Making, publishing, disseminating, or circulating directly or indirectly or aiding, abetting, or encouraging the making, publishing, disseminating, or circulating of any oral or written statement or any pamphlet, circular, article, or literature which is false or maliciously critical of or substantially misrepresents the financial condition of an insurer and which is calculated to injure any person engaged in the business of insurance;
(4) Entering into any agreement to commit or by any concerted action committing any act of boycott, coercion, or intimidation resulting in or tending to result in unreasonable restraint of or monopoly in the business of insurance;
(5) Filing with any supervisory or other public official or making, publishing, disseminating, circulating, delivering to any person, or placing before the public or causing directly or indirectly to be made, published, disseminated, circulated, delivered to any person, or placed before the public any false statement of financial condition of an insurer with the intent to deceive;
(6) Making any false entry in any book, report, or statement of any insurer with intent to deceive any agent or examiner lawfully appointed to examine into its condition or into any of its affairs or any public official to whom such insurer is required by law to report or who has authority by law to examine into its condition or into any of its affairs or, with like intent, willfully omitting to make a true entry of any material fact pertaining to the business of such insurer in any book, report, or statement of the insurer;
(7) Issuing or delivering or permitting agents, officers, or employees to issue or deliver agency or company stock or other capital stock, benefit certificates or shares in any common-law corporation, securities, or any special or advisory board contracts of any kind promising returns and profits as an inducement to insurance;
(8)(A)(i) Making or permitting any unfair discrimination between individuals of the same class, same policy amount, and equal expectation of life in the rates charged for any contract of life insurance or of life annuity, in the dividends or other benefits payable thereon, or in any other of the terms and conditions of the contract.
(ii) Making or permitting any unfair discrimination between individuals of the same class and of essentially the same hazard in the amount of premium, policy fees, or rates charged for any policy or contract of accident or sickness insurance, in the benefits payable thereunder, in any of the terms or conditions of the contract, or in any other manner whatever.
(iii) Making or permitting any unfair discrimination in the issuance, renewal, or cancellation of any policy or contract of insurance against direct loss to residential property and the contents thereof, in the amount of premium, policy fees, or rates charged for the policies or contracts when the discrimination is based solely upon the age or geographical location of the property within a rated fire district without regard to objective loss experience relating thereto.
(iv)(I) Unfair discrimination prohibited by the provisions of this subparagraph includes discrimination based on race, color, and national or ethnic origin. In addition, in connection with any kind of insurance, it shall be an unfair and deceptive act or practice to refuse to insure or to refuse to continue to insure an individual; to limit the amount, extent, or kind of coverage available to an individual; or to charge an individual a different rate for the same coverage because of the race, color, or national or ethnic origin of that individual. The prohibitions of this division are in addition to and supplement any and all other provisions of Georgia law prohibiting such discrimination which were previously enacted and currently exist, or which may be enacted subsequently, and shall not be a limitation on such other provisions of law.
(II) A violation of this division shall give rise to a civil cause of action for damages resulting from such violation including, but not limited to, all damages recoverable for breach of insuring agreements under Georgia law including damages for bad faith and attorney's fees and costs of litigation. A violation of this division shall also give rise to the awarding of punitive or exemplary damages in an amount as may be determined by the trier of fact if such violation is found to be intentional. The remedies provided in this division are in addition to and cumulative of all other remedies that may now or hereafter be provided by law.
(B) Knowingly permitting or offering to make or making any contract of insurance or agreement as to the contract other than as plainly expressed in the contract issued thereon; paying, allowing, giving, or offering to pay, allow, or give directly or indirectly, as inducement to any contract of insurance, any rebate of premiums payable on the contract, any special favor or advantage in the dividends or other benefits thereon, or any valuable consideration or inducement whatever not specified in the contract, except in accordance with an applicable rate filing, rating plan, or rating system filed with and approved by the Commissioner; giving, selling, purchasing, or offering to give, sell, or purchase as inducement to such insurance or in connection therewith any stocks, bonds, or other securities of any company, any dividends or profits accrued thereon, or anything of value whatsoever not specified in the contract; or receiving or accepting as inducement to contracts of insurance any rebate of premium payable on the contract, any special favor or advantage in the dividends or other benefit to accrue thereon, or any valuable consideration or inducement not specified in the contract.
(C) Nothing in subparagraphs (A) and (B) of this paragraph shall be construed as including within the definition of discrimination or rebates any of the following practices:
(i) In the case of any contract of life insurance or life annuity, paying bonuses to policyholders or otherwise abating their premiums in whole or in part out of surplus accumulated from nonparticipating insurance, provided that any bonuses or abatement of premiums shall be fair and equitable to policyholders and for the best interest of the company and its policyholders;
(ii) In the case of life or accident and sickness insurance policies issued on the industrial debit or weekly premium plan, making allowance in an amount which fairly represents the saving in collection expense to policyholders who have continuously for a specified period made premium payments directly to an office of the insurer;
(iii) Making a readjustment of the rate of premium for a policy based on the loss or expense experienced at the end of the first or any subsequent policy year of insurance thereunder, which adjustment may be made retroactive only for the policy year;
(iv) Issuing life or accident and sickness insurance policies covering bona fide employees of the insurer at a rate less than the rate charged other persons in the same class;
(v) Issuing life or accident and sickness policies on a salary-saving, payroll deduction, preauthorized, postdated, automatic check, or draft plan at a reduced rate commensurate with the savings made by the use of such plan;
(vi) Paying commissions or other compensation to duly licensed agents or brokers or allowing or returning dividends, savings, or unabsorbed premium deposits to participating policyholders, members, or subscribers;
(vii) Paying by an insurance agent of part or all of the commissions on public insurance to a nonprofit association of insurance agents which is affiliated with a recognized state or national insurance agents' association, which commissions are to be used in whole or in part for one or more civic enterprises;
(viii) Paying for food or refreshments by an insurer or an agent, broker, or employee of an insurer for current or prospective clients during group sales presentations and group seminars, provided that no insurance or annuity applications or contracts are offered or accepted at such presentations or seminars;
(ix) Paying for business meals and entertainment by an insurer or an agent, broker, or employee of an insurer, agent, or broker for current or prospective clients; or
(x) Advertising or conducting promotional programs by insurers or insurance producers whereby prizes, goods, wares, store gift cards, gift certificates, sporting event tickets, or merchandise, not exceeding $100.00 in value per customer in the aggregate in any one calendar year, are given to current or prospective customers; provided, however, that the giving of any item or items of value under this subsection shall not be contingent on the sale or renewal of a policy;
(9) Failing to instruct and require properly that agents shall, in the solicitation of insurance and the filling out of applications of insurance on behalf of policyholders, incorporate therein all material facts relevant to the risk being written, which facts are known to the agent or could have been known by proper diligence;
(10) Encouraging agents to accept applications which contain material misrepresentations or conceal material information which, if stated in the application, would prevent issuance of the policy or which would void a policy from its inception according to its terms even though premiums had been paid on the policy;
(11) Any insurer or agent of same becoming a party to requiring or imposing as a condition to the sale of real or personal property or to the financing of real or personal property, as a condition to the granting of or an extension of a loan which is to be secured by the title to or a lien of any kind on real or personal property, or as a condition to the performance of any other act in connection with the sale, financing, or lending, whether the person thus acts for himself or for anyone else, that the insurance or any renewal thereof to be issued on said property as collateral to said sale or loan shall be written through any particular insurance company or agent, provided that this paragraph shall not apply to a policy purchased by the seller, financier, or lender from his or its own funds and not charged to the purchaser or borrower in the sale price of the property or the amount of the loan or required to be paid for out of his personal funds; provided, further, that such seller, financier, or lender may disapprove for reasons affecting solvency or other sensible and sufficient reasons, the insurance company selected by the buyer or borrower. This paragraph shall not apply to title insurance;
(12)(A) Representing that any insurer or agent is employed by or otherwise associated with any medicare program as defined in Code Section 33-43-1 or the United States Social Security Administration or that any insurance policy sold or offered for sale has been endorsed or sponsored by the federal or state government.
(B) Knowingly selling or offering to sell medicare supplement insurance coverage as defined in Code Section 33-43-1 which is not in compliance with the provisions of Chapter 43 of this title, relating to medicare supplement insurance, or the rules and regulations promulgated by the Commissioner pursuant to Chapter 43 of this title.
(C) Representing that any individual policy is a group policy or that the insurer, agent, or policy is endorsed, sponsored by, or associated with any group, association, or other organization unless such is, in fact, the case.
(D) Knowingly selling to Medicaid recipients substantially unnecessary coverage which duplicates benefits provided under the Medicaid program without disclosing to the prospective buyer that it may not be to the buyer's benefit or that it might actually be to the buyer's detriment to purchase the additional coverage;
(13)(A) Making direct response advertising by an insurer, including radio or television advertisement, of any individual or group life insurance policy in which computation of the death benefit is of such a technical nature that such death benefit cannot reasonably be properly presented in the advertisement and understood by a member of the insuring public. Policies, other than variable life or other interest sensitive policies, which provide for multiple changes in death benefits, combinations of increasing and nonuniformly decreasing term insurance, or increasing life insurance benefits equal to or slightly greater than the premiums paid during the early years of the coverage combined with accidental death benefits are types of contracts within the purview of this subparagraph. Additionally, any life insurance policy which cannot be truthfully, completely, clearly, and accurately disclosed in an advertisement falls within this subparagraph.
(B) Making direct response advertising by an insurer, including radio or television advertisement, of any individual or group accident and sickness or life insurance policy which is misleading in fact or by implication that the coverage is “guaranteed issue” when there are conditions to be met by those persons to be insured, such as limited medical questions or other underwriting guidelines of the insurer.
(C) Making direct response advertising by an insurer, including radio or television advertisement, of any individual or group accident and sickness or life insurance policy where such advertisement has not been approved for use in this state by the Commissioner;
(14) Failing to disclose in printed advertising material that medical benefits are calculated on the basis of usual, customary, and reasonable charges;
(14.1) Engaging in dishonest, unfair, or deceptive insurance practices in marketing or sales of insurance to service members of the armed forces of the United States and, notwithstanding any other provision of this title, the Commissioner may promulgate such rules and regulations as necessary to define dishonest, unfair, or deceptive military marketing and sales practices; or
(14.2) Failing to submit all claims data to the Georgia All-Payer Claims Database as required in Article 3 of Chapter 53 of Title 31.
(15)(A) As used in this paragraph, the term:
(i) “Confidential abuse information” means information about acts of family violence or sexual assault, the status of a victim of family violence or sexual assault, an individual's medical condition that the insurer knows or has reason to know is related to family violence or sexual assault, or the home and work addresses and telephone numbers of a subject of family violence or sexual assault.
(iii) “Sexual assault” means rape, sodomy, aggravated sodomy, sexual battery, and aggravated sexual battery as those terms are defined in Chapter 6 of Title 16.
(B) No person shall deny or refuse to accept an application; refuse to insure; refuse to renew; refuse to reissue; cancel, restrict, or otherwise terminate; charge a different rate for the same coverage; add a premium differential; or exclude or limit coverage for losses or deny a claim incurred by an insured on the basis that the applicant or insured is or has been a victim of family violence or sexual assault or that such person knows or has reason to know the applicant or insured may be a victim of family violence or sexual assault; nor shall any person take or fail to take any of the aforesaid actions on the basis that an applicant or insured provides shelter, counseling, or protection to victims of family violence or sexual assault.
(C) No person shall request, directly or indirectly, any information the person knows or reasonably should know relates to acts of family violence or sexual assault or an applicant's or insured's status as a victim of family violence or sexual assault or make use of such information however obtained, except for the limited purpose of complying with legal obligations, verifying an individual's claim to be a subject of family violence or sexual assault, cooperating with a victim of family violence or sexual assault in seeking protection from family violence or sexual assault, or facilitating the treatment of a family violence or sexual assault related medical condition. When a person has information in their possession that clearly indicates that the insured or applicant is a subject of family violence or sexual assault, the disclosure or transfer of the information by a person to any person, entity, or individual is a violation of this Code section, except:
(i) To the subject of family violence or sexual assault or an individual specifically designated in writing by the subject of family violence or sexual assault;
(ii) To a health care provider for the direct provision of health care services;
(iii) To a licensed physician identified and designated by the subject of family violence or sexual assault;
(iv) When ordered by the Commissioner or a court of competent jurisdiction or otherwise required by law;
(v) When necessary for a valid business purpose to transfer information that includes confidential abuse information that cannot reasonably be segregated without undue hardship. Confidential abuse information may be disclosed pursuant to this division only to the following persons or entities, all of whom shall be bound by this subparagraph:
(I) A reinsurer that seeks to indemnify or indemnifies all or any part of a policy covering a subject of family violence or sexual assault and that cannot underwrite or satisfy its obligations under the reinsurance agreement without that disclosure;
(II) A party to a proposed or consummated sale, transfer, merger, or consolidation of all or part of the business of the person;
(III) Medical or claims personnel contracting with the person, only where necessary to process an application or perform the person's duties under the policy or to protect the safety or privacy of a subject of family violence or sexual assault; or
(IV) With respect to address and telephone number, to entities with whom the person transacts business when the business cannot be transacted without the address and telephone number;
(vi) To an attorney who needs the information to represent the person effectively, provided the person notifies the attorney of its obligations under this paragraph and requests that the attorney exercise due diligence to protect the confidential abuse information consistent with the attorney's obligation to represent the person;
(vii) To the policy owner or assignee, in the course of delivery of the policy, if the policy contains information about family violence or sexual assault status; or
(viii) To any other entities deemed appropriate by the Commissioner.
(D) It is unfairly discriminatory to terminate group coverage for a subject of family violence because coverage was originally issued in the name of the perpetrator of the family violence and the perpetrator has divorced, separated from, or lost custody of the subject of family violence, or the perpetrator's coverage has terminated voluntarily or involuntarily. If termination results from an act or omission of the perpetrator, the subject of family violence shall be deemed a qualifying eligible individual under Code Section 33-24-21.1 and may obtain continuation and conversion of such coverages notwithstanding the act or omission of the perpetrator. A person may request and receive confidential abuse information to implement the continuation and conversion of coverages under this subparagraph.
(E) Subparagraph (C) of this paragraph shall not preclude a subject of family violence or sexual assault from obtaining his or her insurance records. Subparagraph (C) of this paragraph shall not prohibit a person from asking about a medical condition or a claims history or from using medical information or a claims history to underwrite or to carry out its duties under the policy to the extent otherwise permitted under this paragraph and other applicable law.
(F) No person shall take action that adversely affects an applicant or insured on the basis of a medical condition, claim, or other underwriting information that the person knows or has reason to know is family violence or sexual assault related and which:
(i) Has the purpose or effect of treating family violence or sexual assault status as a medical condition or underwriting criterion;
(ii) Is based upon correlation between a medical condition and family violence or sexual assault;
(iii) Is not otherwise permissible by law and does not apply in the same manner and to the same extent to all applicants and insureds similarly situated without regard to whether the condition or claim is family violence or sexual assault related; or
(iv) Except for claim actions, is not based on a determination, made in conformance with sound actuarial and underwriting principles and guidelines generally applied in the insurance industry and supported by reasonable statistical evidence, that there is a correlation between the applicant's or insured's circumstances and a material increase in insurance risk.
(G) No person shall fail to pay losses arising out of family violence or sexual assault against an innocent first-party claimant to the extent of such claimant's legal interest in the covered property, if the loss is caused by the intentional act of an insured against whom a family violence or sexual assault complaint is brought for the act causing this loss.
(H) No person shall use other exclusions or limitations on coverage which the Commissioner has determined through the policy filing and approval process to unreasonably restrict the ability of victims of family violence or sexual assault to be indemnified for such losses.
(I) Any person issuing, delivering, or renewing a policy of insurance in this state at any time shall include with such policy or renewal certificate a notice attached thereto containing the following language:
The laws of the State of Georgia prohibit insurers from unfairly discriminating against any person based upon his or her status as a victim of family violence.”
(c) Any person violating this Code section by making unlawful, false representations as to the policy sold shall be guilty of a misdemeanor.
Cite this article: FindLaw.com - Georgia Code Title 33. Insurance § 33-6-4 - last updated April 14, 2021 | https://codes.findlaw.com/ga/title-33-insurance/ga-code-sect-33-6-4.html
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