TITLE 16.ECONOMIC REGULATION

Part 4. TEXAS DEPARTMENT OF LICENSING AND REGULATION

Chapter 57. FOR-PROFIT LEGAL SERVICE CONTRACT COMPANIES

16 TAC §§57.1, 57.10, 57.21 - 57.23, 57.25, 57.70 - 57.72, 57.80, 57.90

The Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation ("Department") adopts on an emergency basis new rules at 16 Texas Administrative Code ("TAC"), Chapter 57, §§57.1, 57.10, 57.21 - 57.23, 57.25, 57.70 - 57.72, 57.80 and 57.90, concerning regulation of certain prepaid legal service contract programs and registration of administrators, companies and sales representatives.

The new rules define and set out registration and fee requirements, describe the responsibilities imposed upon all registrants, and specify available administrative penalties and sanctions.

The new rules are adopted on an emergency basis pursuant to §2001.034 of the Government Code, which allows a state agency to adopt emergency rules if a requirement of state or federal law requires adoption of the rules on less than 30 days notice and to ensure compliance with new legislation enacted during the 78th Legislative Session, Regular Session, including Senate Bill 597, which became effective September 1, 2003.

These new rules were proposed for public comment and permanent adoption in accordance with Texas Government Code, §2001.023 and §2001.029, and published in the January 30, 2004, issue of the Texas Register (29 TexReg 750). The Texas Commission of Licensing and Regulation ("Commission") at their meeting on February 25, 2004, authorized the Department to adopt these new rules on an emergency basis, which enables the Commission to comply with the timetable prescribed by Senate Bill 597 and set out in Chapter 953, Texas Occupations Code.

The new rules are adopted on an emergency basis under Texas Occupations Code, Chapters 51 and 953, which authorize the Commission to adopt rules as necessary to implement Chapter 953 and any other law establishing a program regulated by the Department; and Government Code, §2001.034, which provides for the adoption of administrative rules on an emergency basis, without notice and comment.

The statutory provisions affected by the adopted emergency rules are those set forth in the Texas Occupations Code, Chapters 51 and 953, and Senate Bill 597, 78th Legislature.

No other statutes, articles, or codes are affected by the emergency adoption.

§57.1.Authority.

These rules are promulgated under the authority of Title 5, Texas Occupations Code, Chapter 953, and Title 2, Texas Occupations Code, Chapter 51.

§57.10.Definitions.

The following words and terms, when used in this chapter, have the following meanings.

(1) Group legal service contract--A legal service contract that is entered into on behalf of a group by a group representative and provides legal services for members of the group that choose to purchase the service.

(2) Administrator--The person appointed by a company to be responsible for:

(A) all or any part of the administration of legal service contracts or group legal service contracts;

(B) the sale of legal service contracts or group legal service contracts; or

(C) compliance with Title 5, Texas Occupations Code, Chapter 953 and this chapter.

(3) Company--A person who:

(A) is contractually obligated to a legal service contract holder under the terms of a legal service contract;

(B) enters into a contract with a contracting attorney to provide or obtain covered legal services for a legal service contract holder; and

(C) operates as a for-profit legal service contract company.

(4) Sales Representative--A person who sells or solicits:

(A) legal service contracts; or

(B) group legal service contracts to a person on behalf of a legal service contract company.

§57.21.Registration Requirements--Company.

(a) No person may operate as a company without first registering with the department.

(b) Registration is valid for one year from the date issued and must be renewed annually.

(c) Original and renewal applications must be accompanied by:

(1) an audit report and audited financial statements for the company's most recent fiscal year;

(2) a certified statement, made by an actuary, describing the company's reserves, if any;

(3) the required fees; and

(4) proof of one of the following forms of financial security that meets the market value requirements of Texas Occupations Code §953.101:

(A) a surety bond issued by an authorized surety;

(B) securities of the type eligible for deposit by an authorized insurer in Texas;

(C) a deposit of cash or cash equivalents;

(D) an irrevocable letter of credit issued by a qualified financial institution; or

(E) another form of security acceptable to the Executive Director.

(d) Falsification of information on an application is cause for denial of the application and revocation of the registration.

§57.22.Registration Requirements--Sales Representative.

(a) No person may sell or solicit legal service contracts to a person on behalf of a company without first registering with the department.

(b) Registration is valid for one year from the date issued and must be renewed annually.

(c) The required fee must accompany both original and renewal applications.

(d) Falsification of information on an application is cause for denial of the application or revocation of the registration.

§57.23.Registration Requirements--Administrator.

(a) No person may act as an administrator on behalf of a company without first registering with the department.

(b) Registration is valid for one year from the date issued and must be renewed annually.

(c) The required fee must accompany both original and renewal applications.

(d) Falsification of information on an application is cause for denial of the application or revocation of the registration.

§57.25.Registration Requirements--Renewal.

(a) A complete application for registration renewal must be submitted on an approved Department form with all required fees.

(b) Non-receipt of a registration renewal notice from the Department does not exempt a person from any requirements of this chapter.

(c) A person shall not perform work requiring registration under Title 5, Texas Occupations Code, Chapter 953 with an expired registration.

§57.70.Responsibilities of Registrants--General.

A registrant shall notify the Department in writing within thirty (30) days of any change in the information set forth in the registrant's most recent original and renewal application.

§57.71.Responsibilities of Registrants--Company.

(a) A company must provide a receipt for or other written evidence of the purchase of a legal service contract to a contract holder within 45 days.

(b) A company must provide a copy of the legal service contract to the contract holder within 45 days.

(c) A company must provide a copy of the terms of a group legal service contract including the obligations and benefits of each party as specified in Texas Occupations Code, Chapter 953, §953.156 within 45 days.

(d) A company must provide a receipt for or other written evidence of the purchase of a group legal service contract to a contract holder within 45 days.

(e) A company must include a statement substantially similar to, "Legal service contract companies and their sales representatives are regulated by the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation. You may contact the Department at P.O. Box 12157, Austin, TX 78711, 512-463-6599, 800-803-9202, or at legalservicecontract@license.state.tx.us." in each legal service contract sold or offered for sale in Texas.

§57.72.Responsibilities of Registrant--Sales Representative.

A sales representative may only sell legal service contracts regulated under Title 5, Texas Occupations Code, Chapter 953 and this chapter on behalf of a registered company.

§57.80.Fees.

(a) All fees are non-refundable.

(b) The original and renewal registration fee for a company shall be:

(1) $500 for a company that sells 0 to 1,000 legal service contracts during the twelve (12) months preceding the date of the application;

(2) $750 for a company that sells 1,001 to 2,500 legal service contracts during the twelve (12) months preceding the date of the application; and

(3) $1,000 for company that sells 2,501 or more legal service contracts during the twelve (12) months preceding the date of the application.

(c) For purposes of subsection (b) of this section if a company that sold no legal service contracts in this state in the preceding year previously sold prepaid legal service contracts under article 5.13-1, Texas Insurance Code, the company's registration fee shall be based on the number of prepaid legal service contracts sold under the Texas Insurance Code in the preceding year.

(d) By March 1 of each year, companies must also pay an annual premium tax replacement fee. The premium tax replacement fee is equal to the difference between an amount equal to 1.7% of the amount a company collects for legal service contracts sold by the company in Texas in the previous year and the amount the company paid to the state in franchise taxes in the same year.

(e) The original and renewal registration fee for a sales representative is $50.

(f) The original and renewal registration fee for an administrator is $50.

(g) A $25 fee shall be charged for duplicate or amended registration certificates.

(h) Late renewal fees for registrations issued under this chapter are provided for in Title 16, §60.83 of the Commission rules.

§57.90.Administrative Penalties and Sanctions.

If a person violates any provision of Title 5, Texas Occupations Code, Chapter 953, any provision of Title 16, Texas Administrative Code, Chapter 57, or any provision of an order of the Executive Director or Commission, proceedings may be instituted to impose administrative penalties, administrative sanctions, or both administrative penalties and sanctions in accordance with the provisions of Title 5, Texas Occupations Code, Chapter 953; Title 2, Texas Occupations Code, Chapter 51; and Title 16, Texas Administrative Code, Chapter 60 (relating to the Texas Commission of Licensing and Regulation.)

This agency hereby certifies that the emergency adoption has been reviewed by legal counsel and found to be within the agency's legal authority to adopt.

Filed with the Office of the Secretary of State on February 25, 2004.

TRD-200401461

William H. Kuntz, Jr.

Executive Director

Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation

Effective Date: February 25, 2004

Expiration Date: June 23, 2004

For further information, please call: (512) 463-7348