§ 27-16-1.4. Secretary of state as agent for service of process.
(a) Any act of transacting an insurance business as set forth in § 27-16-1.2 by any unauthorized insurer is equivalent to and shall constitute an irrevocable appointment by the insurer, binding upon the insurer, his or her executor or administrator, or successor in interest if a corporation, of the secretary of state or the secretary's successor in office, to be the true and lawful attorney of the insurer upon whom may be served all lawful process in any action, suit, or proceeding in any court by the commissioner of insurance or by the state and upon whom may be served any notice, order, pleading, or process in any proceeding before the commissioner of insurance and which arises out of transacting an insurance business in this state by the insurer. Any act of transacting an insurance business in this state by any unauthorized insurer shall be signification of its agreement that any lawful process in a court action, suit, or proceeding and any notice, order, pleading, or process in an administrative proceeding before the commissioner of insurance so served shall be of the same legal force and validity as personal service of process in this state upon the insurer.
(b) Service of process in an action shall be made by delivering to and leaving with the secretary of state, or some person in apparent charge of his or her office, two (2) copies of the process and by payment to the secretary of state of the fee prescribed by law. Service upon the secretary of state as an attorney shall be service upon the principal.
(c) The secretary of state shall immediately forward by certified mail one of the copies of the process or the notice, order, pleading, or process in proceedings before the commissioner to the defendant in the court proceeding or to whom the notice, order, pleading, or process in the administrative proceedings is addressed or directed at its last known principal place of business and shall keep a record of all process served on him or her which shall show the day and hour of service. The service is sufficient, provided:
(1) Notice of service and a copy of the court process or the notice, order, pleading, or process in the administrative proceeding are sent within ten (10) days after this by certified mail by the plaintiff or the plaintiff 's attorney in the court proceeding, or by the commissioner of insurance in the administrative proceeding, to the defendant in the court proceeding or to whom the notice, order, pleading, or process in the administrative proceeding is addressed or directed, at the last known principal place of business of the defendant in the court or administrative proceeding; and
(2) The defendant's receipt or receipts issued by the post office with which the letter is registered, showing the name of the sender of the letter and the name and address of the person or insurer to whom the letter is addressed and an affidavit of the plaintiff or the plaintiff 's attorney in a court proceeding, or of the commissioner of insurance in an administrative proceeding, showing compliance with this section, are filed with the clerk of the court in which an action, suit, or proceeding is pending or with the commissioner in administrative proceedings, on or before the date the defendant in the court or administrative proceeding is required to appear or respond, or within any further time as the court or commissioner of insurance may allow.
(d) No plaintiff shall be entitled to a judgment or a determination by default in any court or administrative proceeding in which a court process or notice, order, pleading, or process in proceedings before the commissioner of insurance is served under this section until the expiration of forty-five (45) days from the date of the filing of the affidavit of compliance.
(e) Nothing in this section shall limit or affect the right to serve any process, notice, order, or demand upon any person or insurer in any other manner now or after this permitted by law.
(P.L. 1973, ch. 231, § 1.)