a. The commissioner shall establish a bureau, to be known as the "consumer advocate bureau", which shall be responsible for ensuring fair treatment of consumers by persons in the business of insurance and for preventing unfair or deceptive trade practices in the insurance marketplace.
b. The commissioner, with the advice of the governor, shall appoint a consumer advocate who shall be knowledgeable in the area of insurance and particularly in the area of consumer protection.
c. The consumer advocate bureau shall receive and may investigate consumer complaints and inquiries from the public, and shall conduct investigations to determine whether any person has violated any provision of the insurance code, including chapters 507B and 522B, and any provisions related to the establishment of insurance rates.
d. When necessary or appropriate to protect the public interest or consumers, the consumer advocate may request that the commissioner conduct administrative hearings as provided in section 505.29.
e. The consumer advocate bureau shall perform other functions as may be assigned to it by the commissioner related to consumer advocacy.
f. The consumer advocate bureau shall work in conjunction with other areas of the insurance division on matters of mutual interest. The insurance division shall cooperate with the consumer advocate in fulfilling the duties of the consumer advocate bureau. The consumer advocate may also seek assistance from other federal or state agencies or private entities for the purpose of assisting consumers.
g. The commissioner, in cooperation with the consumer advocate, shall prepare and deliver a report to the general assembly by January 15 of each year that contains findings and recommendations regarding the activities of the consumer advocate bureau including but not limited to all of the following:
(1) An overview of the functions of the bureau.
(2) The structure of the bureau including the number and type of staff positions.
(3) Statistics showing the number of complaints handled by the bureau, the nature of the complaints including the line of business involved and their disposition, and the disposition of similar issues in other states.
(4) Actions commenced by the consumer advocate.
(5) Studies performed by the consumer advocate.
(6) Educational and outreach efforts of the consumer advocate bureau.
(7) Recommendations from the commissioner and the consumer advocate about additional consumer protection functions that would be appropriate and useful for the bureau or the insurance division to fulfill based on observations and analysis of trends in complaints and information derived from national or other sources.
(8) Recommendations from the commissioner and the consumer advocate about any needs for additional funding, staffing, legislation, or administrative rules.