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PENNSYLVANIA ASSOCIATION LIFE UNDERWRITERS v. COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA (10/05/78)

decided: October 5, 1978.

PENNSYLVANIA ASSOCIATION OF LIFE UNDERWRITERS, ROGER B. JACOBY, CLU, ROBERT F. SEILER, ERNEST M. BOLL, CLU, JAMES W. SHINDLER, GEORGE G. POTE, CLU, JOHN D. HOPPER, CLU AND JAMES A. PELLOW, CLU, APPELLANTS,
v.
COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, DEPARTMENT OF INSURANCE, WILLIAM J. SHEPPARD, INSURANCE COMMISSIONER



Appeal No. 82 May Term, 1977, from the Decree of the Commonwealth Court at No. 176 C.D. 1976, Equity, Eagen, C. J., and O'Brien, Roberts, Pomeroy, Nix, Manderino and Larsen, JJ. Manderino, J., filed a dissenting opinion in which Pomeroy and Larsen, JJ., joined.

Author: Per Curiam

[ 482 Pa. Page 330]

OPINION OF THE COURT

Decree Affirmed.

Each party to pay own costs.

[ 482 Pa. Page 331]

MANDERINO, Justice, dissenting.

The singular issue raised by this appeal is whether the Insurance Commissioner has the authority to promulgate regulations requiring insurance agents and companies to make certain affirmative disclosures to prospective purchasers of life insurance policies prior to sale. The facts of the case are not in dispute.

The Commissioner promulgated the regulations in question, entitled Disclosures in Solicitation of Life Insurance, 31 Pa.Code § 83, with effective date of December 14, 1975. The purpose of the regulations is to prevent insurance consumers from being confused and misled by the multiplicity of insurance "packages" available on the market today. These regulations require state licensed agents, brokers and insurers to provide detailed disclosure statements to potential buyers of life insurance policies prior to sale, which statement would disclose, in standardized form, information pertaining to amounts of, and conditions attached to, coverages, benefits, premiums, dividends and other terms and provisions of the policy. Thus, a consumer would be able to "shop around" for the optimum policy.

This Court has said many times that administrative agencies "can only exercise those powers which have been conferred upon [them] by the Legislature." Pa. Human Relations Comm'n. v. Zamantakis, 478 Pa. 454, 387 A.2d 70, 72 (1978) (citations omitted). We have also stated that it is possible to imply certain powers from the enabling legislation. However, this implication must be manifest. Green v. Milk Control Commission, 340 Pa. 1, 16 A.2d 9 (1940), cert. denied, 312 U.S. 708, 61 S.Ct. 826, 85 L.Ed. 1140 (1941).

"The principle guiding to decision is this: The power and authority to be exercised by administrative commissions must be conferred by legislative language clear and unmistakable. A doubtful power does not exist." Id., 340 Pa. at 3, 16 A.2d at 9.

In this case, the legislature in The Unfair Insurance Practices Act, 40 P.S. § 1171.1 -- 15 (Supp. 1978-79) (UIPA), specifically enumerated a very long list of unfair methods of

[ 482 Pa. Page 332]

    competition and unfair or deceptive acts or practices. 40 P.S. § 1171.5. Nowhere in the UIPA is there any grant of authority for the Commission to add to that list nor is such authority necessarily implied anywhere in the act. "Only those powers within the legislative grant, either express or necessarily implied, can be exercised by the administrative body." Pennsylvania Human Relations Comm'n. ...


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