General Assembly Adjourns – But Not Done
The SC General Assembly has adjourned for the year but is expected to return for consideration of budget legislation and other hot social issues. All legislation that has not passed is still alive and can be considered if the Governor calls the General Assembly back or January when the General Assembly returns next session. Here is a recap of what passed and what is being carried over.
Michael Wise Confirmed as Insurance Director
SC Governor Henry McMaster’s appointment of Michael Wise as Director of the S.C. Department of Insurance (DOI) was approved by the Senate Banking & Insurance Committee and confirmed by the Senate. Director Wise had been serving as Acting Director since the retirement of Ray Farmer last April and was previously Deputy Director of the Actuarial and Market Services Division.
Surplus Lines Insurers Can Provide Commercial Motor Vehicle Liability Insurance
The definition of “surplus lines insurance” (Section 38-1-20(56)) was amended to include commercial motor vehicle liability insurance. This change paves the way for non-admitted carriers to fill gaps in garage liability policies for automobile dealers and could relieve pressure in commercial trucking insurance. This change was part of S 500 and is now law in SC.
Insurers Required to Notify DOI Prior to Withdrawing From a Market
Insurance companies that plan to completely withdraw a segment of business from South Carolina, must notify the DOI at least 30 days prior to initiating the process to issue non-renewals or cancellations. This change is also part of S 500 and is now in effect.
Option to Operate Motor Vehicle Without Liability Insurance Eliminated
Bill S 549 includes a change that would eliminate a seldom used statute that allows a vehicle to be legally operated on roadways without having liability insurance (testimony revealed one registered vehicle in SC under this provision). This bill has passed chambers and awaits the Governor’s signature.
Not Passed – Still Alive
Several key bills of interest did not pass this legislative session but are still alive in this two-year session and could be considered during any special sessions called by the Governor.
Posting Insurance Documents Online
Bill H 3977 allows certain insurance policy documents to be posted online in lieu of mailing if insured consents. The bill has passed the House and resides in the Senate awaiting third reading.
Tort Reform and Liquor Liability
Most legislation addressing tort reform that would help with liquor liability insurance is still moving through committee discussions and will not pass this session. A Senate Judiciary Subcommittee continues to hold hearings on S 533 – Contribution among tortfeasors, Bill S 87 – Tort Claims Act and S 263 – Attorney conducted Voir Dire. S 533 is the top legislative priority for the SC Coalition for Lawsuit Reform and addresses reforming Joint and Several Liability – a key issue for the liquor liability insurance market.
UTVs Allowed on Roadways
Bill H 3359 allows Utility Terrain Vehicles (UTVs) to be legally operated on secondary roadways and includes an insurance requirement. Has passed the House and resides in the Senate Transportation committee.
Mandatory Insurance for Watercraft
Bill S 33 requires watercraft of more than seventy horsepower (including jet skis) to carry at least $50,000 per occurrence liability. This has passed the Senate and resides in the House.