For the purposes of this chapter, the following terms shall have the meanings respectively ascribed to them by this section:
(1) AUTOMOBILE CLUB OR ASSOCIATION. A legal entity which, in consideration of dues, assessments or periodic payments of money, promises its members or subscribers to assist them in matters relating to the ownership, operation, use or maintenance of a motor vehicle; provided, however, that the definition of automobile clubs shall not include persons or associations or corporations which are organized and operated solely for the purpose of conducting, sponsoring or sanctioning motor vehicle races, exhibitions or contests upon race tracks or upon race courses established and marked as such for the duration of such particular event.
(2) COMMISSIONER. The Commissioner of Insurance of the State of Alabama.
This chapter shall be deemed and held exclusive authority for the organization and operation of automobile clubs and associations within this state, and such clubs and associations shall not be subject to any other laws respecting insurance companies of any class, kind or character except as to the conduct of hearings by the commissioner and appeals therefrom; provided, however, that this chapter shall not affect the validity of any membership certificate of any automobile club or association issued and outstanding prior to January 1, 1972. Notwithstanding the aforementioned, nothing in this chapter shall be construed as authority for a licensed automobile club or association to provide or furnish insurance coverage unless such clubs shall have complied with all the laws and regulations required of insurance companies authorized to do business in this state.
No automobile club or association shall do, or offer to do, business in the state unless the same shall be organized as a domestic or foreign corporation and shall be licensed by the commissioner.
All automobile clubs and associations now organized and/or operating in the State of Alabama and all automobile clubs and associations hereafter organized and/or operating in the State of Alabama shall be under the authority, supervision and control of the commissioner.
(a) The commissioner shall have full and complete authority to grant certificates of authorization to automobile clubs and associations, to revoke such certificates and to prescribe such rules and regulations as are reasonably necessary for the conduct of the business of such clubs and associations within the state and for carrying out the objects and purposes of this chapter. In determining if a certificate of authorization shall be issued, the commissioner shall take into consideration, along with all other factors, the name of the automobile club or association; and, if such name, emblem or trademark is distinctive and not likely to mislead the public as to the nature or identity of the corporation using it or interfere with the transactions of any other automobile club already doing business in the state, it shall be entitled to be approved.
(b) The commissioner shall also have the authority to conduct hearings as provided under this title.
(a) Within 30 days after January 1, 1972, every automobile club or association organized and/or operating in the State of Alabama shall file with the commissioner an application for a certificate of authority to continue said operations within the state, and every automobile club or association desiring to commence operations within the state shall, prior to the commencement of said operation, file application with and receive a certificate of authority from the commissioner. No certificate of authority shall be issued until the automobile club or association has paid to the commissioner $250.00 as an annual license fee, which fee shall not be returnable. Licenses shall be issued for the period beginning January 1 of each year and shall expire on the following December 31. The commissioner shall deposit all fees collected in the State Treasury to the credit of the General Fund.
(b) The following documents and information shall be filed with the application of all such clubs and associations:
(1) The sum of $25,000.00 in cash or securities, as approved by the commissioner and deposited in trust with the State Treasurer or, in lieu thereof, a surety bond payable to the commissioner in the amount of $25,000.00 of a surety company authorized to do business in this state, conditioned upon the full compliance with this chapter and the faithful performance of the obligations of such club or association to its members. The bonds shall be approved by the commissioner and shall not be cancelled without 30 days' notice to the commissioner. If such bond is filed, any person defrauded or injured by any wrongful act, misrepresentation or failure on the part of a motor club with respect to selling or rendering of any service may maintain an action on such bond in his own name. Upon receipt of notice of the intended dissolution of such automobile club or association and upon receipt of notice of evidence satisfactory to the commissioner that all obligations of the club or association to its members and creditors have been satisfied, the State Treasurer, upon written authorization from the commissioner, shall refund said money or securities and the obligations of said bond shall terminate;
(2) Appointment of an agent for service of process who shall be a resident of the State of Alabama or, in lieu thereof, the commissioner; and
(3) A copy of the proposed form of membership application, membership certificate, bylaws, contracts for service and any other material, including advertising matter, requested by the commissioner.
(c) If the commissioner shall be satisfied that the applicant is competent and trustworthy and possesses the professional ability to perform the services and that he meets all the requirements of this chapter, he shall issue to the applicant a certificate of authority to conduct the business of such automobile club or association within this state.
Persons representing any automobile club or association in soliciting automobile club or association memberships and the automobile club or association with respect thereto shall be subject to the provisions of Chapters 7 and 8A of this title, except that automobile club or association producers shall be exempt from the 40-hour prelicensing course and written examination requirements of Chapter 7 and the continuing education requirements of Chapter 8A of this title.
It shall be unlawful for any person, firm, association, copartnership, corporation, company or other organization to organize, operate or in any way solicit members for an automobile club or association or to offer any of the motor club services as defined in Section 27-39-1 except in the manner provided in this chapter and under the rules and regulations promulgated by the commissioner. Any person, firm, association, copartnership, corporation, company or other organization violating the provisions of this chapter shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction, shall be punished by a fine not exceeding $500.00, or be imprisoned not exceeding six months or punished by both fine and imprisonment, in the discretion of the court.