For Consumers

Preparing for your hearing

Your administrative hearing will be held at the Office of the Insurance Commissioner (OIC)'s Tumwater, Wash. location, and will be recorded. At the hearing, you will present testimony and evidence to the presiding officer deciding your case. An attorney employed by the OIC’s Legal Affairs division will appear on behalf of the commissioner at the hearing.  

You may give an opening statement to present a summary of what you intend to prove. Your testimony, and the testimony of any witnesses, will be given under oath. You and your witnesses can be asked questions by both the OIC's Legal Affairs employee and the presiding officer. You may submit documents or statements supporting your case to the presiding officer. At the conclusion of the case, you can make a closing argument summarizing what the evidence showed and the outcome you want.

Answers to questions about how to present your case and obtain the testimony and evidence you need to support your case are presented below. 

Contact the Hearings Unit at 360-725-7002 if you have additional questions or concerns. 

Must I appear at the hearing and can I appear with an attorney?

You must appear at the hearing, or you may be held in default and lose your case. You may represent yourself ("pro se") throughout the administrative process or hire an attorney to do so. If it is a hardship for you to appear in person at the hearing, you can ask the presiding officer (at the prehearing conference) to appear telephonically. 

A party that is a corporation or other entity may be represented by a duly authorized representative, such as an officer of the corporation, or by an attorney. Out-of-state attorneys may represent an individual or entity in an administrative proceeding without the involvement of a Washington attorney (Washington Court Rules, General Rule 24(b)(3)(www.courts.wa.gov).

If you require assistance at the hearing due to difficulty with language or disability, contact the Hearings Unit at 360-725-7002 so accommodations can be made (at no cost to you).

 

What do I need to prove?

If you are appealing a disciplinary action of the commissioner, the Office of the Insurance Commissioner (OIC ) must prove the action is reasonable by proving the factual allegations against you and establishing a violation of the law. Nevertheless, you should be prepared to offer evidence refuting the charges, and evidence of your good character and conduct, mitigation, and rehabilitation, as appropriate.

In non-contested cases, such as applications for which approval of the commissioner is required by statute, the applicant must show the statutory criteria for approval are met.

 

What kind of evidence will I need for the hearing?

In addition to your testimony, you may want to have witnesses who know about the relevant issues testify on your behalf. With advance permission from the presiding officer, a witness may testify by telephone.

Documents such as contracts, business records or checks may also be submitted to help prove your argument. Documents to be considered and included in the hearing record must be left with the presiding officer, so bring the original and two copies to the hearing. You may substitute reliable copies in place of the originals, if necessary.

 

How do I get records that are not in my possession?

If you can't get the records you need, you can ask the presiding officer to subpoena records from individuals, businesses and government agencies. Make your request for a subpoena during a prehearing conference, or as far in advance of the hearing as possible.

 

How do I get a witness to testify at hearing?

Usually witnesses appear voluntarily. As mentioned above, with advance permission from the presiding officer, a witness may testify by telephone. If the witness is unwilling to attend the hearing or to testify by telephone, you must ask the presiding officer to issue a subpoena to the witness as far in advance of the hearing as possible. The presiding officer will not speak to a witness except at the hearing itself.

 

Is it OK to bring letters instead of witnesses?

Having witnesses is preferred, but letters and other documents may be admitted in evidence for limited purposes. If you or your representative submits a letter or statement from a witness, it should be dated and signed under penalty of perjury.