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733Ratification Number: 599Act Number: 513Introducing Body: SenateSubject: Motor Vehicle Theft and Motor Vehicle Insurance Fraud Reporting-Immunity Act
(A513, R599, S733)
AN ACT TO ESTABLISH THE MOTOR VEHICLE THEFT AND MOTOR VEHICLE INSURANCE FRAUD REPORTING-IMMUNITY ACT, TO PROVIDE FOR THE EXCHANGE OF INFORMATION RELATING TO MOTOR VEHICLE THEFT OR MOTOR VEHICLE INSURANCE FRAUD BETWEEN AUTHORIZED GOVERNMENTAL AGENCIES AND INSURERS, TO PROVIDE FOR IMMUNITY FROM CIVIL AND CRIMINAL LIABILITY FOR THE EXCHANGES, TO PROVIDE FOR CONFIDENTIALITY, AND TO PROVIDE A PENALTY.
Be it enacted by the General Assembly of the State of South Carolina:
SECTION 1. This act may be cited as the "Motor Vehicle Theft and Motor Vehicle Insurance Fraud Reporting-Immunity Act".
SECTION 2. As used in this act:
(a) "Authorized agency" means:
(1) The South Carolina State Law Enforcement Division, the State Highway Patrol, the Sheriff's Department of any county of this State, and any duly constituted criminal investigative department or agency of another state or the United States.
(2) The Attorney General of this State, any circuit solicitor of this State, any prosecuting attorney for a county, circuit, or district of another state or of the United States.
(3) The South Carolina Department of Insurance, the South Carolina Department of Highways and Public Transportation, and the South Carolina Department of Consumer Affairs.
(b) "Relevant" means having any tendency to make the existence of any fact that is of consequence to the investigation or determination of the issue more probable or less probable than it would be without the evidence.
(c) "Action" means affirmative acts and the failure to take action.
(d) "Immune" means that neither a civil action nor a criminal prosecution may arise from any action taken pursuant to this act unless negligence on the part of the insurance company or authorized agency against the insured is shown.
SECTION 3. (a) Any authorized agency may require, in writing, the insurance company at interest to release to the requesting agency any or all relevant information or evidence considered important to the authorized agency which the company may have in its possession, relating to any specific motor vehicle theft or motor vehicle insurance fraud. Relevant information includes:
(1) Pertinent insurance policy information relevant to theft or fraud under investigation and any application for a policy.
(2) Policy premium payment records which are available.
(3) History of previous claims made by the insured.
(4) Material relating to the investigation of the loss, including statements of any person, proof of loss, and any other evidence relevant to the investigation.
(b) When an insurance company has reason to believe that a motor vehicle loss in which it has an interest may involve theft or a fraudulent claim, the company may notify, in writing, an authorized agency and provide it with any or all material developed from the company's inquiry into the loss; however, when this information includes possible evidence of motor vehicle theft or motor vehicle insurance fraud involving specifically named persons, the information in all cases may be furnished to the
solicitor in the circuit where the loss occurred and he shall furnish the information to other authorized agencies if he considers the action appropriate. When an insurance company provides any one of the authorized agencies with notice of a theft or fraud, it is sufficient notice for the purpose of this act.
(c) The authorized agency provided with information may release or provide the information to any agency asked to participate in the investigation.
(d) Any insurance company providing information to an authorized agency has the right to be informed, upon written request, as to the status of the case by the agency within a reasonable time, as determined by the authorized agency.
(e) Any insurance company or authorized agency which releases information, whether oral or written, and any person acting in their behalf, pursuant to this act, is immune from any liability arising out of the release.
SECTION 4. (a) Any authorized agency or insurance company which receives any information furnished pursuant to this act must hold the information in confidence until its release is required pursuant to a criminal or civil action or proceeding.
(b) Any authorized agency, its agents, or employees, may be required to testify in any litigation in which the insurance company at interest is named as a party.
SECTION 5. (a) No person shall intentionally or knowingly refuse to release any information requested pursuant to this act.
(b) No person shall fail to hold in confidence information required to be held in confidence by this act.
SECTION 6. Any person who violates the provisions of this act is guilty of a misdemeanor and upon conviction must be fined
not more than three thousand dollars or be imprisoned for not more than two years, or both.
SECTION 7. This act shall take effect upon approval by the Governor.