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Introduced Version House Bill 2695 History

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Key: Green = existing Code. Red = new code to be enacted

FISCAL NOTEWEST virginia legislature

2021 regular session

Introduced

House Bill 2695

By Delegates Westfall, Hott, Espinosa, L. Pack and Rowe

        [By Request of the Insurance Commissioner]

[Introduced February 23, 2021; Referred to the Committee on Banking and Insurance then Government Organization]

 

                                               

BILL to amend and reenact §33-41-8 and §33-41-8a of the Code of West Virginia, 1931, as amended, relating to the consolidation the positions of the Inspector General of the former Workers’ Compensation Commission’s Fraud and Abuse Unit and the position of Director of the Insurance Fraud Unit. 

Be it enacted by the Legislature of West Virginia:


ARTICLE 41. WEST VIRGINIA INSURANCE FRAUD PREVENTION ACT.


§33-41-8. Creation of Insurance Fraud Unit; purpose; duties; personnel qualifications.

(a) There is established the West Virginia Insurance Fraud Unit within the offices of the commissioner. The commissioner may employ full-time supervisory, legal, and investigative personnel for the unit who shall be qualified by training and experience in the areas of detection, investigation, or prosecution of fraud within and against the insurance industry to perform the duties of their positions. The director Inspector General of the unit is a full-time position and shall be appointed by the commissioner and serve at his or her will and pleasure. The commissioner shall provide office space, equipment, and supplies, and shall employ and train personnel, including legal counsel, investigators, auditors and clerical staff necessary for the unit to carry out its duties and responsibilities under this article as the commissioner determines is necessary.

(b) It is the duty of the unit to:

(1) Initiate inquiries and conduct investigations when the unit has cause to believe violations of any of the following provisions of this code relating to the business of insurance have been or are being committed: §33-1-1 et seq. and §23-1-1 et seq. of this code; §61-3-1 et seq. of this code; and §61-4-5 of this code. Notwithstanding any provision of this code to the contrary, the unit may, with the agreement of the Director of the Public Employees Insurance Agency, conduct investigations related to possible fraud under §5-16-1 et seq. of this code;

(2) Review reports or complaints of alleged fraud related to the business of insurance activities from federal, state, and local law-enforcement and regulatory agencies, persons engaged in the business of insurance and the general public to determine whether the reports require further investigation;

(3) Conduct independent examinations of alleged fraudulent activity related to the business of insurance and undertake independent studies to determine the extent of fraudulent insurance acts; and

(4) Perform any other duties related to the purposes of this article assigned to it by the commissioner.

(c) The unit may:

(1) Inspect, copy, or collect records and evidence;

(2) Serve subpoenas issued by grand juries and trial courts in criminal matters;

(3) Administer oaths and affirmations;

(4) Share records and evidence with federal, state, or local law-enforcement or regulatory agencies, and enter into interagency agreements. For purposes of carrying out investigations under this article, the unit shall be considered a criminal justice agency under all federal and state laws and regulations and as such shall have access to any information that is available to other criminal justice agencies concerning violations of the insurance laws of West Virginia or related criminal laws;

(5) Make criminal referrals to the county prosecutors;

(6) Execute search warrants and arrest warrants for criminal violations of the insurance laws of West Virginia or related criminal laws: Provided, That those persons designated by the commissioner to do so meet the requirements of and are certified as law-enforcement officers under §30-29-5 of this code and the certification is currently active;

(7) Arrest upon probable cause, without a warrant a person found in the act of violating or attempting to violate an insurance law of West Virginia or related criminal law: Provided, That those persons designated by the commissioner to do so meet the requirements of and are certified as law-enforcement officers under §30-29-5 of this code and the certification is currently active;  

(8) Conduct investigations outside this state. If the information the unit seeks to obtain is located outside this state, the person from whom the information is sought may make the information available to the unit to examine at the place where the information is located. The unit may designate representatives, including officials of the state in which the matter is located, to inspect the information on behalf of the unit, and may respond to similar requests from officials of other states;

(9) Initiate investigations and participate in the development of, and, if necessary, the prosecution of, any health care provider, including a provider of rehabilitation services, suspected of fraudulent activity related to the business of insurance; and

(10) Initiate investigations and participate in the development of, and, if necessary, the investigation, control, and prosecution of, any workers’ compensation fraud, as previously assigned to the workers’ compensation fraud and abuse unit created pursuant to §23-1-1b of this code.

(d) Specific personnel of the unit designated by the commissioner may operate vehicles owned or leased for the state displaying Class A registration plates.

(e) Notwithstanding any provision of this code to the contrary, specific personnel of the unit designated by the commissioner may carry firearms in the course of their official duties after meeting specialized qualifications established by the Governor’s Committee on Crime, Delinquency, and Correction, which shall include the successful completion of handgun training provided to law-enforcement officers by the West Virginia State Police: Provided, That nothing in this subsection shall be construed to include any person designated by the commissioner as a law-enforcement officer as that term is defined by the provisions of §30-29-1 of this code; and

(f) The unit is not subject to the provisions of §6-9A-1 et seq. of this code and the investigations conducted by the unit and the materials placed in the files of the unit as a result of any such investigation are exempt from public disclosure under the provisions of §29B-1-1 et seq. of this code.

§33-41-8a.  Fingerprinting and background check for applicants for employment with fraud unit.


(a) The Commissioner shall require any applicant for employment with the fraud unit to be fingerprinted. The Commissioner is authorized to conduct a criminal records check through the Criminal Identification Bureau of the West Virginia State Police and a national criminal history check through the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The results of any criminal records or criminal history check shall be sent to the Commissioner. The West Virginia State Police may exchange this fingerprint data with the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

(b) The Director Inspector General shall not disclose information obtained pursuant to subsection (a) of this section except for purposes directly related to the employment of the applicant.


 

NOTE: The purpose of this bill is to consolidate the statutory positions of Director of the Insurance Fraud Unit and Inspector General of the former Workers’ Compensation Commission Fraud and Abuse Unit.  W.Va. Code §23-1-1b(g)(22) transferred the Workers’ Compensation Fraud and Abuse Unit, along with the position of Inspector General, to the Insurance Commissioner and, further, provided that the former Workers’ Compensation Commission’s Inspector General shall serve as the initial Inspector General for the Insurance Commissioner.  However, pursuant to W.Va. Code §33-41-8(a), the Insurance Commissioner’s Fraud Unit is led by the position of “Director.” Both positions currently exist in state code and in the Division of Personnel’s Classification Specifications.  The purpose of this bill is to consolidate the positions by eliminating reference to the position of “Director” of the Insurance Fraud Unit and replace it with reference to the position of Inspector General to clarify the position is one and the same.

Strike-throughs indicate language that would be stricken from a heading or the present law and underscoring indicates new language that would be added.

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