Freedom of Information Requests (FOIA)

Accessing Public Agencies
The South Carolina Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) provides access to information and meetings held by public agencies. The South Carolina Department of Insurance ("Department") complies with the requirements of the FOIA and makes available to the public those records subject to disclosure under the FOIA that are not otherwise afforded confidential treatment by some other provision of the law. Records of the Department are open to the public for inspection and copying pursuant to, and subject to any limitations of, the FOIA, S.C. Code Ann. 30-4-10 et seq. (1976, as amended).

In order to ensure open access, accountability, and timely and appropriate response to the public, all requests for information will be coordinated through the Office of Legal Services.

Receipt of Request / Procedure to Process
All FOIA requests must be in writing. No particular form is required. If the requested records are available, the Office of Legal Services shall coordinate with appropriate program areas to arrange for retrieval, review and / or copying of records. Review of records shall be by appointment only.  Review of records will ordinarily take place within the Department. Designated Department staff will be responsible for establishing and coordinating procedures with office / program areas for all FOIA requests.

Referral of Requests to Counsel
Certain requests which may involve ongoing litigation, enforcement activities or confidentiality may be referred to the counsel for advice, or where appropriate, a response.

Certain requests may require a determination to be made regarding confidentiality, trade secret, or other FOIA or separate statutory exemption from release. In such cases, the requester will be notified that the files are not immediately available and that they will be contacted by the Department upon determination regarding exemption by the Department.

Response to Request / Notification
Within fifteen working days of receipt of a written FOIA request, the Department must, in accordance with Section 30-4-30(c), make a determination in writing to the requester regarding the release of the requested records.

If the records are available, the requester will be notified and instructed to contact the Department to schedule a time and place where the records may be inspected or copied and will be advised of any charges that apply.

Policy on Fees
Section 30-4-30(b) provides for the establishment and collection of reasonable fees and for certain exemptions. These fees are subject to change. A current schedule of fees will be available from the FOIA Coordinator. Fees will include both the cost of reproduction and personnel costs for research and retrieval. 

The standard charge for copy is $.25 plus tax per page copied. There is also a fee for labor involved in researching and making copies. The cost of postage will also be assessed unless an email address is included for the documents to be provided in that manner.  Copies for some items, like insurer annual reports, have a standard cost imposed based on the effort required to make the copies, as well as the number of pages.