Understanding the hearing process

Prehearing conference

Once you have filed a demand for hearing, OIC's presiding officer will schedule a prehearing conference, which is usually held by telephone. Participants include (1) you and/or your representative, (2) a person who represents the insurance commissioner, and (3) the presiding officer.

Topics for discussion include basic procedures to be followed before, during and after the hearing, as well as any issues or concerns that have arisen or may arise in preparation for the hearing. No final decisions will be made during the prehearing conference. The hearing date is typically scheduled during the prehearing conference, with an effort to accommodate the needs of both parties.

You may contact the Hearings Unit any time before your hearing to ask for additional prehearing conferences if you have additional questions or concerns to discuss with the presiding officer. All parties must be present by telephone or otherwise any time you meet with the presiding officer.

The hearing

Similar to a court trial, the hearing will include witnesses, exhibits and rules of evidence. The hearing will be as flexible as possible to accommodate the needs of the parties and any witnesses who may appear. The goal is for the presiding officer to be presented with all pertinent information in order to make the best decision. The presiding officer will answer any questions you may have.

The hearing begins with each party presenting an opening statement summarizing what they intend to prove. Then each party presents its evidence, which normally includes documents and testimony. All evidence must be determined to be reliable by the presiding officer before it is admitted. Witnesses give their testimony under oath and are subject to cross-examination by the other party. The presiding officer may also question a witness. You may be a witness for yourself; sometimes the aggrieved party is his or her only witness. 

The hearing concludes with each party presenting its closing arguments summarizing what they believe they have shown. Sometimes the presiding officer will ask the parties to present closing arguments in writing after the hearing. 

Final decision

A written decision is issued by the presiding officer within 90 days of receiving all of the evidence and closing the hearing. The decision includes findings of fact, conclusions of law and a final order. The presiding officer's decision may be to (1) uphold the original act of the commissioner; (2) modify the action; or (3) set aside the original act of the commissioner; in the case of an application that requires a hearing, (4) approve or disapprove the application. 

The decision of the presiding officer may be reviewed by a superior court if a party files a petition for review within 30 days of the final decision being mailed.

Status of the commissioner's order or action

If a demand for hearing was filed with the Hearings Unit prior to the effective date of the commissioner's order or action, the order or action will be automatically stayed; that is, it will not go into effect pending the final outcome of the case. Discretionary stays may also be granted by the presiding officer upon request, depending on the situation. When a stay is in place, you can continue to do business unless or until the presiding officer orders otherwise.

Updated 07/03/2014

See also

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