645.06 History History: 1989 a. 23.
645.07 645.07 Cooperation of officers and employees.
645.07(1)(1)Duty to cooperate. Any officer, manager, trustee or general agent of any insurer, any attorney representing an insurer on any matter, and any other person with executive authority over or in charge of any segment of the insurer's affairs shall cooperate with the commissioner in any proceeding under this chapter or any investigation preliminary or incidental to the proceeding. “To cooperate" includes:
645.07(1)(a) (a) To reply promptly in writing to any inquiry from the commissioner requesting a reply; and
645.07(1)(b) (b) To make available and deliver to the commissioner any books, accounts, documents or other records, or information or property of or pertaining to the insurer and in the person's possession, custody or control.
645.07(2) (2)Duty not to obstruct. No person may obstruct or interfere with the commissioner in the conduct of any delinquency proceeding or any investigation preliminary or incidental thereto.
645.07(3) (3)Right to defend. This section does not make it illegal to resist by legal proceedings the petition for liquidation or other delinquency proceedings, or other orders.
645.07(4) (4)Sanction. Any person included within sub. (1) who fails to cooperate with the commissioner, or any person who obstructs or interferes with the commissioner in the conduct of any delinquency proceeding or any investigation preliminary or incidental thereto, is subject to s. 601.64.
645.07 History History: 1979 c. 93; 1979 c. 102 ss. 196, 236 (15); 1979 c. 177.
645.08 645.08 Bonds; immunity.
645.08(1)(1)Bonds. In any proceeding under this chapter the commissioner and the commissioner's deputies are responsible on their official bonds for the faithful performance of their duties. If the court deems it desirable for the protection of the assets, it may at any time require an additional bond from the commissioner or the commissioner's deputies.
645.08(2) (2)Immunity. No civil cause of action may arise against and no civil liability may be imposed upon the state, commissioner, special deputy commissioner, rehabilitator or liquidator, or their employees or agents, or the insurance security fund under ch. 646 or its agents, employees, directors or contributor insurers, for an act or omission by any of them in the performance of their powers and duties under this chapter or in the performance of their powers and duties relating to regulation of the capital or solvency of an insurer under chs. 600 to 646, including the compulsory or security surplus requirements under ch. 623. This subsection does not apply to a civil cause of action arising from an act or omission that is criminal under ch. 943. Such a cause of action, however, may be barred or limited by common law, sovereign immunity, governmental immunity or otherwise by law.
645.08 History History: 1979 c. 93; 1979 c. 102 s. 236 (14); 1989 a. 23; 1996 a. 396.
645.08 Annotation Sub. (2) does not bar a rehabilitation plan from extending immunity to individuals and entities not listed in this section. There is no such limiting language in the statute. Nickel v. Wells Fargo Bank, 2013 WI App 129, 351 Wis. 2d 539, 841 N.W.2d 482, 10-2022.
645.09 645.09 Commissioner's reports.
645.09(1)(1)General report of proceedings. The commissioner may include in his or her annual report:
645.09(1)(a) (a) Formal proceedings. The names of the insurers proceeded against under ss. 645.31, 645.41, 645.45, 645.81, 645.82 and 645.84, and such other facts as indicate in reasonable detail the commissioner's formal proceedings under this chapter; and
645.09(1)(b) (b) Informal proceedings. Such facts as generally indicate the utilization and effectiveness of proceedings under ss. 645.21, 645.22 and 645.23.
645.09(2) (2)Special reports.
645.09(2)(a) (a) Causes of delinquency. The commissioner may include in his or her annual report, not later than the 2nd annual report following the initiation of any formal proceedings under this chapter, a detailed analysis of the basic causes and the contributing factors making the initiation of formal proceedings necessary, and may make recommendations for remedial legislation. For this purpose the commissioner may appoint a special assistant qualified in insurance, finance, and accounting to conduct the study and prepare the analysis, and may determine the special assistant's compensation, which shall be paid from the appropriation under s. 20.145 (1) (g) 1.
645.09(2)(b) (b) Final study. The commissioner may include in his or her annual report, not later than the 2nd annual report following discharge of the receiver, a detailed study of the delinquency proceeding for each insurer subjected to a formal proceeding, with an analysis of the problems faced and their solutions. The commissioner may also suggest alternative solutions, as well as other material of interest, for the purpose of assisting and guiding liquidators or rehabilitators in the future. For this purpose the commissioner may appoint a special assistant qualified to conduct the study and prepare the analysis, and may determine his or her compensation, which shall be paid from the appropriation under s. 20.145 (1) (g) 1.
645.09(3) (3)Reports on insurers subject to proceedings. The commissioner as receiver shall make and file annual reports and any other required reports for the companies proceeded against under ss. 645.31, 645.41, 645.45, 645.81, 645.82 and 645.84 in the manner and form and within the time required by law of insurers authorized to do business in this state, and under the same penalties for failure to do so.
645.09 History History: 1979 c. 102 ss. 197, 236 (13), (14); 1979 c. 221; 2007 a. 20.
645.10 645.10 Continuation of delinquency proceedings. Every proceeding commenced before August 5, 1967 is deemed to have commenced under this chapter for the purpose of conducting the proceeding thereafter, except that in the discretion of the commissioner the proceeding may be continued, in whole or in part, as it would have been continued had this chapter not been enacted.
645.11 645.11 Effect of amendments of this chapter. Every proceeding commenced under this chapter before December 9, 1979, is subject to the amendments of this chapter by chapter 93, laws of 1979, except as to rights which have fully vested before December 9, 1979.
645.11 History History: 1979 c. 93, 109, 154.
subch. II of ch. 645 SUBCHAPTER II
SUMMARY PROCEEDINGS
645.21 645.21 Commissioner's summary orders.
645.21(1)(1)Summary order after hearing. Whenever the commissioner has reasonable cause to believe, and determines, after a hearing held as prescribed in s. 601.62, that any insurer has committed or engaged in, or is committing or engaging in or is about to commit or engage in any act, practice or transaction, or is in or is about to get into a situation that would subject it to formal delinquency proceedings under this chapter, the commissioner may make and serve upon the insurer and any other persons involved, such orders other than seizure orders under ss. 645.22 and 645.23 as are reasonably necessary to correct, eliminate or remedy such conduct, condition or ground.
645.21(2) (2)Summary order before hearing. If the conditions of sub. (1) are satisfied, and if it appears to the commissioner that irreparable harm to the property or business of the insurer or to the interests of its policyholders, creditors or the public may occur unless the commissioner issues with immediate effect the orders described in sub. (1), the commissioner may make and serve such orders without notice and before hearing, simultaneously serving upon the insurer notice of hearing under s. 601.62.
645.21(4) (4)Judicial relief. If the commissioner issues a summary order before hearing under sub. (2), the insurer may at any time waive the commissioner's hearing and apply for immediate judicial relief by means of any remedy afforded by law without first exhausting administrative remedies. Subsequent to a hearing the insurer or any person whose interests are substantially affected is entitled to judicial review of any order issued by the commissioner.
645.21 History History: 1971 c. 42, 260; 1979 c. 93, 102, 177; 1991 a. 316.
645.22 645.22 Court's seizure order.
645.22(1)(1)Issuance. Upon the filing by the commissioner in any circuit court in this state of a verified petition alleging any ground that would justify a court order for a formal delinquency proceeding against an insurer under this chapter and that the interests of policyholders, creditors or the public will be endangered by delay, and setting out the order considered necessary by the commissioner, the court shall issue forthwith, ex parte and without a hearing, the requested order, which may do any of the following:
645.22(1)(a) (a) Direct the commissioner to take possession and control of all or a part of the property, books, accounts, documents and other records of an insurer and of the premises occupied by it for the transaction of its business.
645.22(1)(b) (b) Until further order of the court, enjoin the insurer and its officers, managers, agents, and employees from disposition of its property and from transaction of its business except with the written consent of the commissioner.
645.22(2) (2)Duration. The court shall specify in the order what its duration shall be, which shall be such time as the court deems necessary for the commissioner to ascertain the condition of the insurer. On motion of either party or on its own motion, the court may hold such hearings as it deems desirable after such notice as it deems appropriate, and may extend, shorten or modify the terms of the seizure order. The court shall vacate the seizure order if the commissioner fails to commence a formal proceeding under this chapter after having had a reasonable opportunity to do so. The issuance of an order of the court pursuant to a formal proceeding under this chapter vacates the seizure order.
645.22(3) (3)Anticipatory breach. Entry of a seizure order under this section does not constitute an anticipatory breach of any contract of the insurer.
645.22 History History: 1979 c. 93; 1995 a. 225; 1997 a. 35.
645.23 645.23 Commissioner's seizure order.
645.23(1)(1)Issuance. If it appears to the commissioner that the interests of creditors, policyholders or the public will be endangered by the delay incident to asking for a court seizure order, then on any ground that would justify a court seizure order under s. 645.22, without notice and without applying to the court, the commissioner may issue a seizure order which must contain a verified statement of the grounds for the action. As directed by the seizure order, the commissioner's representatives shall forthwith take possession and control of all or part of the property, books, accounts, documents and other records of the insurer, and of the premises occupied by the insurer for the transaction of its business. The commissioner shall retain possession and control until the order is vacated or is replaced by an order of the court pursuant to a proceeding commenced under sub. (2) or a formal proceeding under this chapter.
645.23(2) (2)Judicial review. At any time after seizure under sub. (1), the insurer may apply to the circuit court for Dane County or for the county in which the insurer's principal office is located. The court shall thereupon order the commissioner to appear forthwith and shall proceed thereafter as if the order were a court seizure order issued under s. 645.22.
645.23(3) (3)Duty to assist commissioner. Every law enforcement officer shall assist the commissioner in making and enforcing any such seizure, and every sheriff's and police department shall furnish the commissioner with such deputies, patrolmen or officers as are necessary to assist in the seizure.
645.23(4) (4)Anticipatory breach. Entry of a seizure order under this section does not constitute an anticipatory breach of any contract of the insurer.
645.23 History History: 1979 c. 93, 102.
645.24 645.24 Conduct of hearings in summary proceedings.
645.24(1)(1)Confidentiality of commissioner's hearings. The commissioner shall hold all hearings in summary proceedings privately unless the insurer requests a public hearing, in which case the hearing shall be public.
645.24(2) (2)Confidentiality of court hearings. The court may hold all hearings in summary proceedings and judicial reviews thereof privately in chambers, and shall do so on request of the insurer proceeded against.
645.24(3) (3)Records. In all summary proceedings and judicial reviews thereof, all records of the company, other documents, and all office of the commissioner of insurance files and court records and papers, so far as they pertain to or are a part of the record of the summary proceedings, shall be and remain confidential except as is necessary to obtain compliance therewith, unless the court, after hearing arguments from the parties in chambers, orders otherwise, or unless the insurer requests that the matter be made public. Until the court order is issued, all papers filed with the clerk of the court shall be held by the clerk in a confidential file.
645.24(4) (4)Parties. If at any time it appears to the court that any person whose interest is or will be substantially affected by an order did not appear at the hearing and has not been served, the court may order that notice be given and the proceedings be adjourned to give the person opportunity to appear on just terms.
645.24(5) (5)Sanctions. Any person having possession or custody of and refusing to deliver any of the property, books, accounts, documents or other records of an insurer against which a seizure order or a summary order has been issued by the commissioner or by the court, is subject to s. 601.64.
645.24 History History: 1979 c. 93, 102.
subch. III of ch. 645 SUBCHAPTER III
FORMAL PROCEEDINGS
645.31 645.31 Grounds for rehabilitation. The commissioner may apply by verified petition to the circuit court for Dane County or for the county in which the principal office of the insurer is located for an order directing rehabilitation of a domestic insurer or an alien insurer domiciled in this state on any one or more of the following grounds:
645.31(1) (1)Any ground on which the commissioner may apply for an order of liquidation under s. 645.41, whenever he or she believes that the insurer may be successfully rehabilitated without substantial increase in the risk of loss to creditors of the insurer or to the public.
645.31(2) (2)That the commissioner has reasonable cause to believe that there has been embezzlement from the insurer, wrongful sequestration or diversion of the insurer's assets, forgery or fraud affecting the insurer or other illegal conduct in, by or with respect to the insurer, that if established would endanger assets in an amount threatening the solvency of the insurer.
645.31(3) (3)That information coming into the commissioner's possession has disclosed substantial and not adequately explained discrepancies between the insurer's records and the most recent annual report or other official company reports.
645.31(4) (4)That the insurer has failed to remove any person who in fact has executive authority in the insurer, whether an officer, manager, general agent, employee or other person, if the person has been found by the commissioner after notice and hearing to be dishonest or untrustworthy in a way affecting the insurer's business.
645.31(5) (5)That control of the insurer, whether by stock ownership or otherwise, and whether direct or indirect, is in one or more persons who are dishonest or untrustworthy.
645.31(6) (6)That any person who in fact has executive authority in the insurer, whether an officer, manager, general agent, employee or other person, has refused to be examined under oath by the commissioner concerning its affairs, whether in this state or elsewhere, and after reasonable notice of the fact the insurer has failed promptly and effectively to terminate the employment and status of the person and all his or her influence on management.
645.31(7) (7)That after demand by the commissioner the insurer has failed to submit promptly any of its own property, books, accounts, documents or other records, or those of any subsidiary or other affiliate within the control of the insurer, or those of any person having executive authority in the insurer so far as they pertain to the insurer, to reasonable inspection or examination by the commissioner or the commissioner's authorized representative. If the insurer is unable to submit the property, books, accounts, documents or other records of a person having executive authority in the insurer, it shall be excused from doing so if it promptly and effectively terminates the relationship of the person to the insurer.
645.31(8) (8)That less than 30 days after reporting the proposed action to the commissioner unless it is earlier approved by the commissioner, or after the action has been disapproved by the commissioner, the insurer has transferred, or attempted to transfer, substantially its entire property or business, or has entered into any transaction the effect of which is to merge, consolidate or reinsure substantially its entire property or business in or with the property or business of any other person.
645.31(9) (9)That the insurer or its property has been or is the subject of an application for the appointment of a receiver, trustee, custodian, conservator or sequestrator or similar fiduciary of the insurer or its property otherwise than as authorized under this chapter, and that such appointment has been made or is imminent, and that such appointment might oust the courts of this state of jurisdiction or prejudice orderly delinquency proceedings under this chapter.
645.31(10) (10)That within the previous year the insurer has willfully violated its charter or articles of incorporation or its bylaws or any insurance law or regulation of any state, or of the federal government, or any valid order of the commissioner under s. 645.21, or having become aware within the previous year of an unintentional violation has failed to take all reasonable steps to remedy the situation resulting from the violation and to prevent future violations.
645.31(11) (11)That the directors of the insurer are deadlocked in the management of the insurer's affairs and that the members or shareholders are unable to break the deadlock and that irreparable injury to the insurer, its creditors, its policyholders or the public is threatened by reason thereof.
645.31(12) (12)That the insurer has failed to pay for 60 days after due date any obligation to this state or any political subdivision thereof or any judgment entered in this state, except that such nonpayment shall not be a ground until 60 days after any good faith effort by the insurer to contest the obligation has been terminated, whether it is before the commissioner or in the courts.
645.31(13) (13)That the insurer has failed to file its annual report or other report within the time allowed by law, and after written demand by the commissioner has failed to give an adequate explanation immediately.
645.31(14) (14)That two-thirds of the board of directors, or the holders of a majority of the shares entitled to vote, or a majority of members or policyholders of an insurer subject to control by its members or policyholders, consent to rehabilitation under this chapter.
645.31(15) (15)That the insurer is a health maintenance organization insurer that has violated s. 609.95 or 609.98.
645.31(16) (16)That the insurer has corporate governance deficiencies such that the commissioner determines that the continued operation of the insurer may be hazardous to the insurer's policyholders, creditors, or the general public.
645.31 History History: 1971 c. 260; 1979 c. 93; 1979 c. 102 ss. 201, 236 (13), (14); 1989 a. 23; 2015 a. 197 s. 51; 2017 a. 313.
645.32 645.32 Rehabilitation orders.
645.32(1)(1)Appointment of rehabilitator. An order to rehabilitate the business of a domestic insurer, or an alien insurer domiciled in this state, shall appoint the commissioner and his or her successors in office rehabilitator and shall direct the rehabilitator to take possession of the assets of the insurer and to administer them under the orders of the court. The recording of the order with any register of deeds in the state imparts the same notice as a deed, bill of sale or other evidence of title recorded with that register of deeds.
645.32(2) (2)Anticipatory breach. Entry of an order of rehabilitation does not constitute an anticipatory breach of any contracts of the insurer.
645.32 History History: 1979 c. 93; 1979 c. 102 s. 236 (13); 1993 a. 301.
645.32 Annotation In the context of insurance rehabilitations, a circuit court erroneously exercises its discretion when the circuit court exceeds its statutory authority or the court unreasonably substitutes a rehabilitator's beliefs for its own beliefs. The court upholds the determinations made by the rehabilitator unless the rehabilitator abused his or her discretion. Nickel v. Wells Fargo Bank, 2013 WI App 129, 351 Wis. 2d 539, 841 N.W.2d 482, 10-2022.
645.33 645.33 Powers and duties of the rehabilitator.
645.33(1)(1)Special deputy commissioner. The rehabilitator may appoint a special deputy commissioner to rehabilitate the insurer. The special deputy commissioner shall have all of the powers of the rehabilitator granted under this section. Subject to court approval, the rehabilitator shall make such arrangements for compensation as are necessary to obtain a special deputy commissioner of proven ability. The special deputy commissioner shall serve at the pleasure of the rehabilitator.
645.33(2) (2)General power. Subject to court approval, the rehabilitator may take the action he or she deems necessary or expedient to reform and revitalize the insurer. The rehabilitator shall have all the powers of the officers and managers, whose authority shall be suspended, except as they are redelegated by the rehabilitator. The rehabilitator shall have full power to direct and manage, to hire and discharge employees subject to any contract rights they may have, and to deal with the property and business of the insurer.
645.33(3) (3)Advice from experts. The rehabilitator may consult with and obtain formal or informal advice and aid of insurance experts.
645.33(4) (4)Pursuit of insurer's claims against insiders. If the rehabilitator finds that there has been criminal or tortious conduct or breach of any contractual or fiduciary obligation detrimental to the insurer by any person, the rehabilitator may pursue all appropriate legal remedies on behalf of the insurer.
645.33(5) (5)Reorganization plan. The rehabilitator may prepare a plan for the reorganization, consolidation, conversion, reinsurance, merger or other transformation of the insurer. Upon application of the rehabilitator for approval of the plan, and after such notice and hearing as the court prescribes, the court may either approve or disapprove the plan proposed, or may modify it and approve it as modified. If it is approved, the rehabilitator shall carry out the plan. In the case of a life insurer, the plan proposed may include the imposition of liens upon the equities of policyholders of the company, if all rights of shareholders are first relinquished. A plan for a life insurer may also propose imposition of a moratorium upon loan and cash surrender rights under policies, for such period and to such an extent as are necessary.
645.33(6) (6)Fraudulent transfers. The rehabilitator shall have the power to avoid fraudulent transfers under ss. 645.52 and 645.53.
645.33 History History: 1979 c. 93, 102; 2009 a. 342.
645.33 Annotation In the context of insurance rehabilitations, a circuit court erroneously exercises its discretion when the circuit court exceeds its statutory authority or the court unreasonably substitutes a rehabilitator's beliefs for its own beliefs. The court upholds the determinations made by the rehabilitator unless the rehabilitator abused his or her discretion. Nickel v. Wells Fargo Bank, 2013 WI App 129, 351 Wis. 2d 539, 841 N.W.2d 482, 10-2022.
645.33 Annotation The legislature intended for rehabilitation proceedings to be informal and without cumbersome procedures. There is no statutory requirement in ch. 645 providing that a court must specify the facts upon which it relied in approving a rehabilitation plan. Upon submission of a plan for approval, a court “may either approve or disapprove the plan proposed, or may modify it and approve it as modified." Nothing more is required. Nickel v. Wells Fargo Bank, 2013 WI App 129, 351 Wis. 2d 539, 841 N.W.2d 482, 10-2022.
645.33 Annotation Wisconsin's rehabilitation statutory scheme does not require that policyholders fare as well in rehabilitation as they would in liquidation. The statutory scheme provides the commissioner with minimal guidance as to how to structure a rehabilitation plan and certainly no requirement that each plan must provide policyholders the liquidation value of their claims or the right to opt out and receive the liquidation value of their claims. Nickel v. Wells Fargo Bank, 2013 WI App 129, 351 Wis. 2d 539, 841 N.W.2d 482, 10-2022.
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2017-18 Wisconsin Statutes updated through 2019 Wis. Act 186 and through all Supreme Court and Controlled Substances Board Orders filed before and in effect on November 3, 2020. Published and certified under s. 35.18. Changes effective after November 3, 2020, are designated by NOTES. (Published 11-3-20)