1997 Regular Session
By: Senator(s) Kirby
Senate Bill 2524
(As Sent to Governor)
AN ACT TO AMEND SECTION 83-49-13, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, TO DELETE THE REQUIREMENT THAT ALL SUBSCRIPTION CONTRACTS FOR PREPAID LEGAL SERVICES PLANS SHALL PRECLUDE THE SPONSOR FROM RECOMMENDING TO THE SUBSCRIBER ANY ATTORNEY; TO CLARIFY THAT A SPONSOR MAY PROVIDE A BENEFIT PLAN WHICH WOULD PROVIDE ONLY A TELEPHONE SERVICE FOR ADVICE OR CONSULTATION; TO CLARIFY THAT A SPONSOR MAY PROVIDE A BENEFIT PLAN WHICH WOULD PROVIDE LEGAL SERVICE INCLUDING TELEPHONE ADVICE OR CONSULTATION WHICH MAY RECOMMEND AN ATTORNEY TO THE SUBSCRIBER; AND FOR RELATED PURPOSES.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF MISSISSIPPI:
SECTION 1. Section 83-49-13, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
83-49-13. (1) Any sponsor of any prepaid legal services plan, or authorized representative thereof, may enter into a subscription contract with any person, or with any person's employer, or with any other person or group acting in his or its behalf; provided, however, that:
(a) No such subscription contract shall be written for a period longer than three (3) years; and
(b) In the case of subscription contracts issued to groups, no member of the group shall be bound by the subscription contract unless he indicates in writing to the group no earlier than ten (10) days after the date on which he has received effective notice of the terms and benefits of the plan and the intention of his group to contract for such plan that he does wish to become a subscriber and to be bound by the subscription contract. The notice received by such member shall contain, without limitation, the provisions itemized in subsection (2) hereinbelow.
(2) Every subscription contract shall be in writing and shall contain the following provisions:
(a) A brief statement of the plan's financial structure, including a statement of the amount of any premiums, charges or dues to be charged or currently being charged and the manner in which such amount is to be paid;
(b) A statement of the amount of benefits, reimbursement or indemnity to be furnished to each subscriber, and the period during which it will be furnished; and, if there are exceptions, reductions, exclusions, limitations or restrictions of such benefits reimbursement or indemnity, a detailed statement of such exceptions, reductions, exclusions, limitations or restrictions;
(c) A statement of the terms and conditions upon which the subscription contract may be cancelled or otherwise terminated by the sponsor or by the subscriber or by his employer or by his group. Provided, that any such cancellation or termination by the sponsor shall not become effective unless accomplished in accordance with the provisions of Sections 83-11-5, 83-11-9, 83-11-13, 83-11-15, 83-11-17, 83-11-19 and 83-11-21;
(d) A statement describing the applicability or nonapplicability of the benefits of the plan to the family dependents of the subscriber;
(e) A statement of the period of grace which will be allowed the subscriber or his employer or group for making any payment due under the subscription contract, which period shall not be less than twenty (20) days;
(f) A statement describing a procedure for settling disputes between or among the sponsor, participating or staff attorneys, and the subscribers;
(g) A statement that the subscription contract includes the endorsements thereon and attached papers, if any, and contains the entire contract; and
(h) A statement that no statements by the subscriber or his employee or group in the application for the contract shall void the subscription contract or be used in any legal proceeding thereunder, unless such application or an exact copy thereof is included in or attached to such subscription contract.
(3) * * * A sponsor may provide a benefit plan which would provide only a telephone service for * * * advice or consultation. Such telephone service shall not recommend a particular attorney to the subscriber * * *.
(4) A sponsor may provide a benefit plan which would provide legal service including telephone advice or consultation which may recommend an attorney to the subscriber.
(5) Every subscriber shall be furnished a copy of his subscription contract, and every employer or other group shall be furnished a copy of the subscription contract signed by it.
(6) The sponsor shall be required to file a "specimen" copy of each subscription contract it uses, and a copy of its underwriting rules with the commissioner and a copy thereof shall also be sent to the Mississippi * * * Bar by the sponsor. Such filings shall be approved by the commissioner before used, however, such filings with the commissioner shall be deemed approved ninety (90) days after the date such filing is received by the commissioner, unless, prior to the expiration of said ninety-day period, the commissioner notified the sponsor of the prepaid legal services plan in writing of the commissioner's disapproval. The commissioner shall require that all such subscription contracts shall be fair and reasonable, and shall not approve any subscription contracts or underwriting rules that are unfair or inequitable or contrary to the public policy of this state, or would, because such provisions are unclear or deceptively worded or encourage misrepresentation.
SECTION 2. This act shall take effect and be in force from and after its passage.