Chapter 48.53 RCW

FIRE INSURANCEARSON FRAUD REDUCTION

Sections

48.53.010Purpose.
48.53.020Designation of high arson incidence areas and classes of occupancyAnti-arson application, contents.
48.53.030Cancellation of policyConditions required for.
48.53.040Cancellation of policyProcedure.
48.53.050Issuance or cancellation of policy in violation of chapter.
48.53.060Adoption of rules.


Purpose.

It is the purpose of this chapter to reduce the incidence of arson fraud by requiring insurers to obtain specified information prior to issuing a fire insurance policy for certain structures and by authorizing insurers to cancel fire insurance policies when characteristics frequently associated with arson fraud are present.



Designation of high arson incidence areas and classes of occupancyAnti-arson application, contents.

(1) The chief of the Washington state patrol, through the director of fire protection, may designate certain classes of occupancy within a geographic area or may designate geographic areas as having an abnormally high incidence of arson. This designation shall not be a valid reason for cancellation, refusal to issue or renew, modification, or increasing the premium for any fire insurance policy.
(2) A fire insurance policy may not be issued to insure any property within a class of occupancy within a geographic area or within a geographic area designated by the chief of the Washington state patrol, through the director of fire protection, as having an abnormally high incidence of arson until the applicant has submitted an anti-arson application and the insurer or the insurer's representative has inspected the property. The application shall be prescribed by the chief of the Washington state patrol, through the director of fire protection, and shall contain but not be limited to the following:
(a) The name and address of the prospective insured and any mortgagees or other parties having an ownership interest in the property to be insured;
(b) The amount of insurance requested and the method of valuation used to establish the amount of insurance;
(c) The dates and selling prices of the property, if any, during the previous three years;
(d) Fire losses exceeding one thousand dollars during the previous five years for property in which the prospective insured held an equity interest or mortgage;
(e) Current corrective orders pertaining to fire, safety, health, building, or construction codes that have not been complied with within the time period or any extension of such time period authorized by the authority issuing such corrective order applicable to the property to be insured;
(f) Present or anticipated occupancy of the structure, and whether a certificate of occupancy has been issued;
(g) Signature and title, if any, of the person submitting the application.
(3) If the facts required to be reported by subsection (2) of this section materially change, the insured shall notify the insurer of any such change within fourteen days.
(4) An anti-arson application is not required for: (a) Fire insurance policies covering one to four-unit owner-occupied residential dwellings; (b) policies existing as of June 10, 1982; or (c) the renewal of these policies.
(5) An anti-arson application shall contain a notice stating: "Designation of a class of occupancy within a geographic area or geographic areas as having an abnormally high incidence of arson shall not be a valid reason for cancellation, refusal to issue or renew, modification, or increasing the premium for any fire insurance policy."

NOTES:

Effective date1995 c 369: See note following RCW 43.43.930.
Severability1986 c 266: See note following RCW 38.52.005.



Cancellation of policyConditions required for.

Notwithstanding the provisions of RCW 48.18.290, where two or more of the following conditions exist, an insurer may, under RCW 48.53.040, cancel a fire insurance policy for any structure:
(1) Which, without reasonable explanation, is unoccupied for more than sixty consecutive days, or in which at least sixty-five percent of the rental units are unoccupied for more than one hundred twenty consecutive days unless the structure is maintained for seasonal occupancy or is under construction or repair;
(2) On which, without reasonable explanation, progress toward completion of permanent repairs has not occurred within sixty days after receipt of funds following satisfactory adjustment or adjudication of loss resulting from a fire;
(3) Which, because of its physical condition, is in danger of collapse;
(4) For which, because of its physical condition, a vacation or demolition order has been issued, or which has been declared unsafe in accordance with applicable law;
(5) From which fixed and salvageable items have been removed, indicating an intent to vacate the structure;
(6) For which, without reasonable explanation, heat, water, sewer, and electricity are not furnished for sixty consecutive days; and
(7) Which is not maintained in substantial compliance with fire, safety, and building codes.



Cancellation of policyProcedure.

An insurer may cancel a fire insurance policy when the requirements of RCW 48.53.030 are met only in accordance with the following procedure:
(1) The insurer shall, not less than five days prior to cancellation, issue written notice of cancellation to the insured or the insured's representative in charge of the policy. The notice shall contain at least the following:
(a) The date that the policy will be canceled;
(b) A description of the specific facts justifying the cancellation;
(c) A copy of this chapter; and
(d) The name, title, address, and telephone number of the insurer's employee who may be contacted regarding cancellation of the policy.
(2) The notice required by this section shall be actually delivered or mailed to the insured by certified mail, return receipt requested, and in addition by first-class mail. A copy of the notice shall, at the time of delivery or mailing to the insured, or the insured's representative in charge of the policy, be mailed to the insurance commissioner.
(3) The insurer shall also comply with the requirements of *RCW 48.18.290 (1)(b), (2) and (3), and shall provide not less than twenty days notice of cancellation to each mortgagee, pledgee, or other person shown by the policy to have an interest in any loss which may occur thereunder except as provided in subsection (1) of this section.
(4) The portion of any premium paid to the insurer on account of the policy, unearned because of the cancellation and in an amount as computed on a pro rata basis, must be actually paid or mailed to the insured or other person entitled thereto as shown by the policy or any endorsement thereon, as soon as possible, and no later than thirty days after the date that the notice of cancellation was issued.

NOTES:

*Reviser's note: RCW 48.18.290 was amended by 2006 c 8 § 212, changing subsection (1)(b) to subsection (1)(e).



Issuance or cancellation of policy in violation of chapter.

(1) Any fire insurance policy issued in violation of this chapter shall not be canceled by the insurer under the procedures authorized by this chapter.
(2) Cancellation of a fire insurance policy in violation of this chapter shall constitute a violation of this title.



Adoption of rules.

Rules designating geographic areas or classes of occupancy as having an abnormally high incidence of arson, and any other rules necessary to implement this chapter shall be adopted by the chief of the Washington state patrol, through the director of fire protection, under chapter 34.05 RCW.

NOTES:

Effective date1995 c 369: See note following RCW 43.43.930.
Severability1986 c 266: See note following RCW 38.52.005.