3737.16 Release of, or request for, information relating to fire loss by insurance company.

(A) The fire marshal, any assistant fire marshal, the chief of the fire and explosion investigation bureau established pursuant to section 3737.22 of the Revised Code, the chief of a fire department of any municipal corporation or township where a fire department is established, the fire prevention officer of any municipal corporation or township where no fire department exists, any federal, state, or local law enforcement agency, or the prosecuting attorney of any county may request any insurance company that has investigated or is investigating a fire loss or potential fire loss of real or personal property to release any information in its possession relative to that loss or potential loss. The company shall release the information and cooperate with any official authorized to request the information under this section. The information shall include, but is not limited to, the following:

(1) Any insurance policy relevant to a fire loss under investigation and any application for such a policy;

(2) Policy premium payment records;

(3) History of previous claims made by the insured or previous insureds for fire loss;

(4) Material relating to the investigation of the loss or potential loss, including statements of any person, proof of loss, and any other relevant evidence.

(B) If an insurance company has reason to suspect that a fire loss to its insured's real or personal property was caused by incendiary means, the company shall notify the fire marshal and the prosecuting attorney of the county in which the loss occurred, and furnish them with all relevant material acquired during its investigation of the fire loss, cooperate with and take such action as may be requested of it by any federal, state, or local law enforcement agency, and permit any other person ordered by a court to inspect any of its records pertaining to the policy and the loss.

(C) If an agency, official, or officer mentioned in division (A) or (B) of this section has received information under those divisions from an insurance company that has investigated or is investigating a fire loss of real or personal property, the agency, official, or officer may release to, and share with, the insurance company any information in the agency's, official's, or officer's possession relative to the loss, upon the request of the insurance company.

(D) In the absence of fraud or malice, no insurance company, or person who furnishes information on its behalf, is liable in damages in any civil action, including any action brought pursuant to section 1347.10 of the Revised Code, or subject to criminal prosecution for any oral or written statement made or any other action taken that is necessary to supply information required under this section.

(E) Except as otherwise provided in division (C) of this section, the officials and departmental and agency personnel receiving any information furnished under this section shall hold the information in confidence until such time as its release is required pursuant to a criminal or civil proceeding.

(F) Any official referred to in division (A) of this section may testify as to any information in the official's possession regarding the fire loss of real or personal property in any civil action in which any person seeks recovery under a policy against an insurance company for the fire loss.

(G) As used in this section, "insurance company" includes the Ohio fair plan underwriting association as established in section 3929.43 of the Revised Code.

(H)

(1) No person shall purposely refuse to release any information requested, pursuant to division (A) of this section, by an agency, official, or officer authorized to request the information by that division.

(2) No person shall purposely refuse to notify the fire marshal and prosecuting attorney of a fire loss required to be reported under division (B) of this section.

(3) No person shall purposely refuse to supply the fire marshal and prosecuting attorney with pertinent information required to be furnished under division (B) of this section.

(4) No person shall purposely fail to hold in confidence information required to be held in confidence by division (E) of this section.

Effective Date: 03-19-2003