Back in March Sanford co-authored a Law360 article titled, “A Primer on Defending Your Calif. Insurance License.” The article begins:
For clients, there is little that can match the emotion of receiving an accusation from the California Department of Insurance seeking to revoke the license that justifies your business’s existence. The reason is that licensees are conditioned to believe they have little to no rights when defending against the department. In this instance, it is good to be wrong.
An accusation is a charging document; the document the department must issue to place the licensee on notice of what it is alleging as violations of insurance laws. It is only in the rarest situations that the department can essentially skip the issuance of an accusation and summarily revoke a license. This is good news because if the department believes insurance laws have been violated, it must tell a licensee, with specificity, what it is that was allegedly violated. This is a requirement that a licensee be provided “notice.” This starts the process that leads to an administrative hearing. After receiving notice, the licensee is entitled to respond by serving its own notice that it intends to defend itself and would like a hearing.
All accusations are served with a notice of defense form, but this does not include a critical document most often missed by novice practitioners — a “special notice of defense.” A special notice of defense is parallel to affirmative defenses in civil litigation — if they are not raised at a certain time, these defenses are forever waived.