For more information, visit our section on Cancellation and Nonrenewal Hearings.
When can a hearing be scheduled?
Maine law provides consumers with the right to request a hearing when a property or casualty policy is cancelled during the policy term. This includes commercial automobile, liability, and property policies, as well as personal homeowners, automobile and umbrella policies.
In addition, a consumer generally may request a hearing when his or her insurance company proposes not to renew an existing homeowners or personal automobile policy.
Only the named insured can request a hearing for a personal policy. That includes the personal representative of the estate of the named insured, a legal guardian of the named insured, or an attorney representing the named insured. The hearing request must be received by the Bureau within 30 days of receipt of the notice of cancellation or nonrenewal.
Any insured under a commercial policy may request a hearing within 45 days of receiving the notice of cancellation.
You may send a written request along with a copy of the cancellation/nonrenewal notice to:
Bureau of Insurance
34 State House Station
Augusta ME 04333-0034
The request and notice can also be faxed to (207) 624-8599.
You may also call the Bureau of Insurance at (207) 624-8475 or (800) 300-5000 and make your hearing request over the telephone. When calling the Bureau to request a hearing, however, it is very important NOT to ask to speak to a hearing officer about your case. Communications with a hearing officer before a hearing could disqualify that hearing officer from hearing your case.
There is no right to a hearing for cancellation or nonrenewal of a policy if your request for hearing is received by the Bureau of Insurance outside of the time frame described above.
In addition, for homeowners policies, generally there is no right to a hearing if your policy has been in force for less than 90 days at the time you receive the cancellation notice. For other types of policies, there is no right to a hearing if your policy has been in force for less than 60 days at the time you receive the cancellation notice.
After you request a hearing, you will receive a Notice of Hearing and Procedural Order that informs you of the scheduled date, time and place of the hearing, and the name of the hearing officer who will hear your case. It also explains some of the procedures associated with the hearing process.
No. Either party may bring an attorney to the hearing, but such representation is not required. Most of the time, neither party is represented by an attorney. Company representatives are often underwriters, adjusters, marketing representatives or agents and not attorneys.
Until further notice, hearings, which are usually held at the Bureau of Insurance (76 Northern Avenue, Gardiner, Maine) will be conducted by telephone conference call.
No. Instead of attending the hearing in person, you may submit a sworn written statement. You may also submit a sworn statement of any other person you would like to call as a witness at the hearing if he or she cannot attend. However, anyone making a sworn statement must be available by telephone at the time of the hearing should the other party want to question the person making the statement.
If the other party objects to your sworn written statement and you are not available by telephone for questioning during the hearing, the statement will not be admitted in to evidence.
A sworn statement is a written statement made under oath before a public official, such as a notary public. The written statement must be signed by a notary or other appropriate official and indicate that an oath was administered to the person making the statement. The Notice of Hearing and Procedural Order that you will receive regarding your hearing gives an example of an appropriate oath to be included with the notary's signature. A sworn statement is also known as an "affidavit."
Yes. If you would like your hearing to be rescheduled to another date or time, you should submit a written request to the Bureau so that it is received at least four business days before the date of the scheduled hearing. You must also provide your request to the other party at the same time you submit it to the Bureau. Generally, one rescheduling request per party is allowed. No rescheduling request received by the Bureau less than four business days before the hearing date will be granted unless there is good cause.
Yes. When a hearing is scheduled, the company is required to continue your coverage from the date of your hearing request until the end of the hearing process.
At the start of the hearing, the hearing officer will begin the record and explain the hearing process to you. The insurance company will be allowed to present its case first and submit evidence. You have the right to question company representatives about any testimony given and/or any evidence presented. After the company has finished, you will also have a chance to present your position and submit evidence, and company representatives may in turn question you. Each side will also have the opportunity to make a closing statement before the end of the hearing.
The hearing officer will listen to arguments of both parties and ask questions for clarification if necessary. The hearing officer will not make any decision on your case at the hearing. Only the evidence presented on the record during the hearing will be considered by the hearing officer in making a decision. Sometimes, if requested by one of the parties, the hearing officer will hold the record open until a certain date for the receipt of specific evidence. Once the record is closed, however, no further evidence will be accepted.
Maine law places the burden of proof on the insurer to establish that legal grounds exist for the proposed cancellation or nonrenewal of the policy. Evidence sufficient to prove a company's case will depend upon the reason given for the cancellation or nonrenewal. A company's evidence could include claim reports, inspection reports, motor vehicle records, a signed application, engineering reports, loss control recommendation letters, police accident reports, and any other documentation that establishes the insurer's position. Evidence from a consumer could include documentation of repairs (contracts, receipts, photos,) evidence of reimbursement from or subrogation against another party, and any other documentation showing that the company's given reason for cancellation or nonrenewal of the policy is incorrect.
Formal "courtroom" rules of evidence do not apply at these hearings. Generally, as long as a party can establish that the evidence presented is the kind that reasonable people rely upon in the conduct of serious affairs, it will be admitted into the record.
If you decide to replace the policy at issue, please let the Bureau of Insurance know as soon as possible. If a hearing has been scheduled but not yet held, you will receive a letter from the Bureau canceling the hearing and dismissing your hearing request. If a hearing already has been held, you will receive a letter dismissing the case without a decision on the merits.
The Bureau of Insurance does not act as an advocate for either party to the hearing. After the hearing, the hearing officer will examine the evidence on the record to determine if the company has met the statutory requirements for canceling or nonrenewing the policy at issue. Once that determination is made, the hearing officer will issue a written decision that is sent by mail to both parties either allowing or disallowing the proposed cancellation or nonrenewal of the policy.
If the hearing officer issues a decision in favor of the company, coverage will be ordered to remain in force for an additional 14 days beyond the date of the hearing officer's decision, to provide you time to obtain replacement coverage. If the hearing officer's decision is in your favor, the policy either will be ordered to be reinstated or to be renewed on the same terms as the expiring policy.
If you do not agree with the hearing officer's decision, you may appeal the decision to Superior Court within 30 days of your receipt of the decision letter. Appealing the decision, however, will not automatically cause your policy to remain in effect after the end of the additional 14 days of coverage ordered in the decision letter. In order to obtain a temporary suspension or "stay" of a hearing officer's decision pending an appeal, the procedure outlined in 5 M.R.S.A. § 11004 should be followed.