Navigation Top
AGO Logo Graphic
AGO Header Image
File a Complaint
Contact the AGO
AGO 1962 No. 144 - July 17, 1962
AGO Opinion Header Image
John J. O'Connell | 1957-1968 | Attorney General of Washington


OFFICES AND OFFICERS ‑- STATE ‑- INSURANCE COMMISSIONER ‑- AUTHORITY TO RELICENSE WHERE LICENSE REVOKED BECAUSE OF A FELONY CONVICTION.

Where the license of an insurance agent was revoked by the insurance commissioner because of a felony conviction the commissioner does not have the authority to relicense the former agent when said individual is released from confinement and placed on parole.

                                                              - - - - - - - - - - - - -

                                                                    July 17, 1962

Honorable Lee I. Kueckelhan
Insurance Commissioner
Insurance Building
Olympia, Washington

                                                                                                              Cite as:  AGO 61-62 No. 144

Dear Sir:

            By letter previously acknowledged you requested the opinion of this office on a question which we paraphrase as follows:

            Where the license of an insurance agent was revoked by the insurance commissioner because of a felony conviction does the commissioner have the authority to relicense the former agent when said individual is released from confinement and placed on parole?

            We answer the question in the negative.

                                                                     ANALYSIS

            RCW 48.17.570 provides in pertinent part as follows:

            "Reinstatement or relicensing.  The commissioner shall not reinstate the license of or relicense any licensee or former licensee as to whom a license has been suspended, revoked, or renewal refused, until any cause for the suspension, revocation, or refusal of such license is no longer existing, . . ."  (Emphasis supplied.)

            Initially, it must be stated that the insurance commissioner has no discretion to relicense a former insurance agent while the "cause" for the revocation continues to exist.  The language of the statute is couched in negative terms and must, therefore, be construed to be  [[Orig. Op. Page 2]] mandatory.  "One of the strongest indications as to what construction should be given to a statutory provision may be found in the use of negative, prohibitory, or exclusive words.  Where statutory restrictions are couched in negative terms they are almost invariably held to be mandatory."  3 Sutherland, Statutory Construction, § 5814.  See, also,Faunce v. Carter, 26 Wn. (2d) 211, 173 P. (2d) 526 (1946).

            RCW 48.17.530 contains the authority for the insurance commissioner to revoke the license of an insurance agent who has been convicted of a felony.  It provides, in so far as pertinent, as follows:

            "(1) The commissioner may suspend, revoke, or refuse to renew any license issued under this chapter or any surplus line broker's license for any cause specified in any other provision of this code, or for any of the following causes:

            ". . .

            "(g) If the licensee has been convicted, by final judgment, of a felony."  (Emphasis supplied.)

            Clearly, the final judgment of conviction is the "cause" for which a license may be revoked; and this "cause" is not removed by the fact that the individual involved served the penal time prescribed by the sentence of the court.  State v. Hazzard, 139 Wash. 487, 247 Pac. 957 (1926).

            Therefore, we are of the opinion that where the license of an insurance agent was revoked by the insurance commissioner because of a felony conviction the commissioner does not have the authority to relicense the former agent when said individual is released from confinement and placed on parole.

            We trust the foregoing will be of assistance to you.

Very truly yours,

JOHN J. O'CONNELL
Attorney General

EARL E. YATES
Assistant Attorney General

Content Bottom Graphic
AGO Logo