58-45-35. Persons eligible to apply to Association for coverage; contents of application.

(a) Any person having an insurable interest in insurable property, may, on or after the effective date of the plan of operation, be entitled to apply to the Association for such coverage and for an inspection of the property. A broker or agent authorized by the applicant may apply on the applicant's behalf. Each application shall contain a statement as to whether or not there are any unpaid premiums due from the applicant for essential property insurance on the property.

The term "insurable interest" as used in this subsection shall include any lawful and substantial economic interest in the safety or preservation of property from loss, destruction or pecuniary damage.

(b) If the Association determines that the property is insurable and that there is no unpaid premium due from the applicant for prior insurance on the property, the Association, upon receipt of the premium, or part of the premium, as is prescribed in the plan of operation, shall cause to be issued a policy of essential property insurance and shall offer additional extended coverage, optional perils endorsements, business income and extra expense coverage, crime insurance, separate policies of windstorm and hail insurance, or their successor forms of coverage, for a term of one year or three years. Short term policies may also be issued. Any policy issued under this section shall be renewed, upon application, as long as the property is insurable property.

(b1) If the Association determines that the property, for which application for a homeowners' policy is made, is insurable, that there is no unpaid premium due from the applicant for prior insurance on the property, and that the underwriting guidelines established by the Association and approved by the Commissioner are met, the Association, upon receipt of the premium, or part of the premium, as is prescribed in the plan of operation, shall cause to be issued a homeowners' insurance policy.

(c) If the Association, for any reason, denies an application and refuses to cause to be issued an insurance policy on insurable property to any applicant or takes no action on an application within the time prescribed in the plan of operation, the applicant may appeal to the Commissioner and the Commissioner, or the Commissioner's designee from the Commissioner's staff, after reviewing the facts, may direct the Association to issue or cause to be issued an insurance policy to the applicant. In carrying out the Commissioner's duties under this section, the Commissioner may request, and the Association shall provide, any information the Commissioner deems necessary to a determination concerning the reason for the denial or delay of the application.

(d) An agent who is licensed under Article 33 of this Chapter as an agent of a company which is a member of the Association established under this Article shall not be deemed an agent of the Association. The foregoing notwithstanding, an agent of a company which is a member of the Association shall have the authority, subject to the underwriting guidelines established by the Association, to temporarily bind coverage with the Association. The Association shall establish rules and procedures, including any limitations for binding authority, in the plan of operation.

Any unearned premium on the temporary binder shall be returned to the policyholder if the Association refuses to issue a policy. Nothing in this section shall prevent the Association from suspending binding authority in accordance with its plan of operation.

(e) Policies of windstorm and hail insurance provided for in subsection (b) of this section are available only for risks in the beach and coastal areas for which essential property insurance has been written by licensed insurers. Whenever such other essential property insurance written by licensed insurers includes replacement cost coverage, the Association shall also offer replacement cost coverage. In order to be eligible for a policy of windstorm and hail insurance, the applicant shall provide the Association, along with the premium payment for the windstorm and hail insurance, a certificate that the essential property insurance is in force. The policy forms for windstorm and hail insurance shall be filed by the Association with the Commissioner for the Commissioner's approval before they may be used. Catastrophic losses, as determined by the Association and approved by the Commissioner, that are covered under the windstorm and hail coverage in the beach and coastal areas shall be adjusted by the licensed insurer that issued the essential property insurance and not by the Association. The Association shall reimburse the insurer for reasonable expenses incurred by the insurer in adjusting windstorm and hail losses. (1967, c. 1111, s. 1; 1969, c. 249; 1985, c. 516, s. 2; 1985 (Reg. Sess., 1986), c. 1027, s. 22; 1987, c. 421, ss. 1, 2; c. 629, s. 11; c. 864, s. 24; 1987 (Reg. Sess., 1988), c. 975, ss. 21-23; 1989, c. 376; c. 485, s. 26; 1991, c. 720, s. 25; 1991 (Reg. Sess., 1992), c. 784, s. 1; 1995, c. 517, s. 28; 1995 (Reg. Sess., 1996), c. 740, s. 1; 1997-498, ss. 5, 6; 2001-421, s. 4.1; 2002-185, s. 4.1; 2003-158, s. 2.)