CHAPTER 292

FORMERLY

SENATE SUBSTITUTE NO. 1

FOR

SENATE BILL NO. 297

AS AMENDED BY

SENATE AMENDMENT NOS. 1 & 2

AN ACT TO AMEND CHAPTER 21 AND 29, TITLE 21, DELAWARE CODE, RELATING TO MOTOR VEHICLES, FINANCIAL SECURITY AND PROVIDING FOR SELF-INSURANCE IN CERTAIN INSTANCES.

BE IT ENACTED BY THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF THE STATE OF DELAWARE (Two-thirds of all members elected to each House thereof concurring therein):

Section 1. Amend §2118 (a), Chapter 21, Title 21, of the Delaware Code, by striking the following language:

"(a) No owner of a motor vehicle required to be registered in this State, other than a self-insurer as defined in this title, and other than a vehicle registered in another state not requiring insurance, shall operate or authorize any other person to operate such vehicle unless the owner has insurance on such motor vehicle providing the following minimum insurance coverage:

(1) Indemnity from legal liability for bodily injury, death or property damage arising out of ownership, maintenance or use of the vehicle to the limit, exclusive of interest and costs, of at least $10,000 for any person and $20,000 for all persons injured in any 1 accident, and $5,000 property damage for any 1 accident."

as the same appears in said subsection and substituting in lieu thereof the following:

"(a) No owner of a motor vehicle registered in this State, other than a self-insurer pursuant to §2904 of this title, shall operate or authorize any other person to operate such vehicle unless the owner has insurance on such motor vehicle providing the following minimum insurance coverage:

(1) Indemnity from legal liability for bodily injury, death or property damage arising out of ownership, maintenance or use of the vehicle to the limit, exclusive of interest and costs, of at least the limits prescribed by the Financial Responsibility Law of this State."

Section 2. Amend §2118 (j), Chapter 21, Title 21, Delaware Code, by striking said subsection in its entirety.

Section 3. Amend §2118 (k), Chapter 21, Title 21, Delaware Code,

by striking the words "subsection (j) of this section shall be fined not less than $25 nor more than $100, and whoever violates any other subsection of" as the same appear in lines 1 and 2 thereof and by adding thereto the following: "Solely for the purposes of criminal prosecution based upon an alleged violation of this section, the phrase 'a motor vehicle registered in this State' shall also include any motor vehicle required to be registered in this State.'"

Section 4. Amend §2120, Chapter 21, Title 21, Delaware Code, by striking said section in its entirety.

Section 5. Amend Chapter 29, Part II, Title 21, Delaware Code, by adding a new subchapter thereto to be designated as Subchapter I, and to read and include the following:

"SUBCHAPTERI. GENERAL PROVISIONS

§2901. Motor vehicles exempted

This chapter shall not apply with respect to any motor vehicle owned by the United States, this State or any political subdivision of this State, or any municipality therein or with respect to any motor vehicle which is subject to the requirements of §§6102 and 6103 of this title.

§2902. Motor vehicle liability policy

(a) A 'motor vehicle liability policy', as said term is used in this chapter, shall mean an owner's or an operator's policy of liability insurance, certified as provided in §2948 or §2949 of this title, as proof of financial responsibility, and issued, except as otherwise provided in §2949 of this title, by an insurance carrier duly authorized to transact business in this State, to or for the benefit of the person named therein as insured.

(b) Such owner's policy of liability insurance shall:

(1) Designate by explicit description or by appropriate reference all motor vehicles with respect to which coverage is thereby to be granted; and

(2) Insure the person named therein and any other person, as insured, using any such motor vehicle or motor vehicles with the express or implied permission of such named insured, against loss from the liability imposed by law for damages arising out of the ownership, maintenance or use of such motor vehicle or motor vehicles within the United States of America or the Dominion of Canada, subject to limits exclusive of interest and costs, with respect to each such motor vehicle, as follows: $10,000, because of bodily injury to or death of 1 person in any 1 accident and, subject to said limit for 1 person, $20,000, because of bodily injury to or death of 2 or more persons in any 1 accident, and $5,000, because of injury to or destruction of property of others in any 1 accident.

(c) Such operator's policy of liability insurance shall insure the person named as insured therein against loss from the liability imposed upon him by law for damages arising out of the use by him of any motor vehicle not owned by him, within the same territorial limits and subject to the same limits of liability as are set forth above with respect to an owner's policy of liability insurance.

(d) Such motor vehicle liability policy shall state the name and address of the named insured, the coverage afforded by the policy, the premium charged therefor, the policy period and the limits of liability and shall contain an agreement or be endorsed that insurance is provided thereunder in accordance with the coverage defined in this chapter as respects bodily injury and death or property damage, or both, and is subject to all the provisions of this chapter.

(e) Such motor vehicle liability policy need not insure any liability under any Workmen's Compensation Law nor any liability on account of bodily injury to or death of an employee of the insured while engaged in the employment, other than domestic, of the insured, or while engaged in the operation, maintenance or repair of any such motor vehicle nor any liability for damage to property owned by, rented to, in charge of or transported by the insured.

(a) Every motor vehicle liability policy shall be subject to the following provisions which need not be contained therein:

(1) The liability of the insurance carrier with respect to the insurance required by this chapter shall become absolute whenever injury or damage covered by said motor vehicle liability policy occurs; such policy may not be cancelled or annulled as to such liability by any agreement between the insurance carrier and the insured after the occurrence of the injury or damage; no statement made by the insured or on his behalf and no violation of such policy shall defeat or void such policy;

(2) The satisfaction by the insured of a judgment for such injury or damage shall not be a condition precedent to the right or duty of the insurance carrier to make payment on account of such injury or damage;

(3) The insurance carrier shall have the right to settle any claim covered by the policy, and, if such settlement is made in good faith, the amount thereof shall be deductible from the limits of liability specified in subdivision (2) of subsection (b) of this section.

(4) The policy, the written application therefor, if any, and any rider or endorsement which does not conflict with the provisions of the chapter shall constitute the entire contract between the parties.

(g) Any policy which grants the coverage required for a motor vehicle liability policy may also grant any lawful coverage in excess of or in addition to the coverage specified for a motor vehicle liability policy and such excess or additional coverage shall not be subject to the provisions of this chapter. With respect to a policy which grants such excess or additional coverage the term 'motor vehicle liability policy' shall apply only to that part of the coverage which is required by this section.

(h) Any motor vehicle liability policy may provide that the insured shall reimburse the insurance carrier for any payment the insurance carrier would not have been obligated to make under the terms of the policy except for the provisions of this chapter.

(i) Any motor vehicle liability policy may provide for the prorating of the insurance thereunder with other valid and collectible insurance.

(j) The requirements for a motor vehicle liability policy may be fulfilled by the policies of 1 or more insurance carriers which policies together meet such requirements.

(k) Any binder issued pending the issuance of a motor vehicle liability policy shall be deemed to fulfill the requirements for such a policy.

§2903. Certain policies unaffected by chapter

(a) This chapter shall not apply to or affect policies of automobile insurance against liability required by any other law of this State, and such policies, if they contain an agreement or are endorsed to conform to the requirements of this chapter, may be certified as proof of financial responsibility under this chapter.

(b) This chapter shall not apply to or affect policies insuring solely the insured named in the policy against liability resulting from the maintenance or use by persons in the insured's employ or on his behalf of motor vehicles not owned by the insured.

§2904. Self-insurers

(a) Upon condition of providing the same benefits available under a required vehicle insurance policy, any person in whose name more than 15 motor vehicles are registered in this State may qualify as a self-insurer by obtaining a certificate of self-insurance issued by the Secretary of Public Safety as provided in subsection (b) of this section.

(b) The Secretary of Public Safety may, in his discretion, approve an application for self-insurance from such a person provided the following is submitted in satisfactory form:

(1) A continuing undertaking by the owner or other appropriate person to pay tort liabilities or basic reparation benefits, or both, and to perform all other obligations imposed by §2118 of this title; and

(2) Evidence that appropriate provisions exist for prompt and efficient administration of all claims, benefits and obligations required by §2118 of this title; and

(3) Evidence that reliable financial arrangements, deposits or commitments exist providing assurance for payment of tort liabilities or basic reparation benefits, or both, and all other obligations imposed by this chapter substantially equivalent to those afforded by a policy of insurance complying with §2118 of this title.

(c) Upon not less than 5 days notice and a hearing pursuant to such notice, the Secretary of Public Safety may, upon reasonable grounds, withdraw this approval of self-insurance. Failure to pay any valid claim within 60 days of its submission or any judgment within 30 days after such judgment shall have become final shall constitute a reasonable ground for the immediate withdrawal of approval of self-insurance.

§2905. Assigned risks

(a) Any applicant for registration who in good faith has applied to 2 insurance companies for a policy of insurance or surety bond under the provisions of this chapter but who is unable to procure such insurance from said companies shall thereupon notify the Insurance Commissioner, in writing, and the Insurance Commissioner upon receipt of said notice shall thereupon assign said application to one of the insurance companies handling such insurance and doing business in this State. Such insurance company shall promptly issue a policy at the rate then prevailing for such policies, adding an automatic surcharge of 10 percent over and above such rate then in force and effect, for similar policies of insurance. Surcharges of 50 percent and 25 percent shall be added to the then prevailing rate for such policies under the following circumstances:

(1) Fifty percent surcharge - If the certificate is required for a conviction of:

a. Driving a motor vehicle while intoxicated; or

b. Failing to stop and report when involved in an accident; or

c. Homicide or assault arising out of the operation of a motor vehicle.

(2) Twenty-five percent surcharge - If the certificate is required for a conviction of:

a. Driving a motor vehicle at an excessive rate of speed where an injury to person or damage to property actually results therefrom; or

b. Driving a motor vehicle in a reckless manner where an injury to person or damage to property actually results therefrom.

(b) All such assignments may carry an expense charge of 5 percent.

(c) The surcharge specified in this section shall be limited for 3 years. The Insurance Commissioner shall notify the Secretary of Public Safety of such assignments and the rate at which such assignments are made and the registration shall then be issued.

§2906. Notice of cancellation or termination of insurance policy

(a) Any insurance company may cancel any motor vehicle liability policy or bond, except such risks as may be assigned to it as pro-vided in §2905 of this title, for any reason it may deem proper. Such insurance company shall refund to its insured the unearned portion of the premium paid by the insured.

(b) Any insurance company may cancel any motor vehicle liability policy or bond issued to any person under the provisions of §2905 of this chapter by giving 30 days notice thereof to the Secretary of Public Safety provided the insured:

(1) Is not licensed to operate a motor vehicle under the laws of this State; or

(2) Is affected with mental or physical infirmities or disabilities rendering it unsafe for him to operate a motor vehicle upon the highways; or

(3) Is, in the opinion of the Secretary of Public Safety, an habitually reckless or negligent driver of a motor vehicle;

Or

(4) Is an habitual drunkard; or

(5) Is addicted to the use of narcotic drugs; or

(6) Is engaged in an unlawful or illegal occupation; or

(7) Has refused or failed to pay the premiums due on such motor vehicle policy or bond; or

(8) Has refused or failed to cooperate with the insurance company as stated in such insurance policy or bond.

§2907. Proof of coverage; jurisdiction

(a) Every insurance company authorized to transact the business of motor vehicle liability insurance in this State shall file with the Insurance Commissioner as a condition of continued transaction of such business with this State a form approved by the Insurance Commissioner stating that its motor vehicle liability policies issued in this State provide the insurance required by this section when the vehicle is operated in this State. A non-admitted insurer may file such a form.

(1) A motor vehicle registration shall not be issued or renewed for any vehicle not covered by a vehicle insurance policy meeting the requirements of this title.

(2) The Division of Motor Vehicles upon proof from its records or other sufficient evidence that the required insurance has not been provided or maintained for a motor vehicle shall immediately suspend the registration of such vehicle.

(3) Immediately upon notice of suspension of the registration of the vehicle, the owner shall return the registration certificate to the Division of Motor Vehicles. Notice is complete upon the expiration of 4 days after deposit of such notice in the United States mail. No person shall possess or display a registration certificate that has been suspended.

(4) Any person whose vehicle's registration has been suspended under this section shall pay a fee of $15 at the end of such suspension for the return of the registration certificate.

(1) The Director of the Division of Motor Vehicles may adopt such rules and regulations, not inconsistent with this title, as are necessary to enforce the provisions of this section.

(b) Whoever violates this section shall be fined not less than $25 nor more than $100.

(c) The Justice of the Peace Courts shall have original jurisdiction of any violation of this section.

§2910. Administration and enforcement

The Secretary of Public Safety shall administer and enforce this chapter. The State Police shall assist the Secretary in enforcing this chapter.

§2911. Availability of other remedies

Nothing in this chapter shall prevent the plaintiff in any action at law from relying for relief upon the other processes provided by law.

§2912. Rights of bona fide transferees and lienors unaffected This chapter shall not prevent the owner of a motor vehicle, the registration of which has been suspended hereunder, from effecting a bona fide sale of such motor vehicle to another person whose rights or privileges are not suspended under this chapter or prevent the registration of such motor vehicle by such transferee. This chapter shall not in any way affect the rights of any conditional vendor, chattel mortgagee or lessor of a motor services with another or to set or fish any commercial eel fishing gear as defined herein vehicle registered in the name of another as owner who becomes subject to this chapter.

§2913. Construction with other laws

This chapter shall in no respect be considered as a repeal of the state motor vehicle laws but shall be construed as supplemental thereto.

§2914. Uniformity of interpretation

This chapter shall be so interpreted and construed as to effectuate its general purpose to make uniform the laws of those states which enact it."

Section 6. Amend Chapter 29, Part II, Title 21, Delaware Code, by adding a new section thereto to be designated as §2944 and to read as follows:

"§2944. Satisfaction of judgments

The judgments referred to in this subchapter shall, for the purposes of this chapter only, be deemed satisfied:

(1) When $10,000 has been credited upon any judgment or judgments rendered in excess of that amount because of bodily injury to or death of 1 person as the result of any 1 accident; or

(2) When, subject to such limit of $10,000 because of bodily injury to or death of 1 person, the sum of $20,000 has been credited upon any judgment or judgments rendered in excess of that amount because of bodily injury to or death of 2 or more persons as the result of any 1 accident; or

(3) When $5,000 has been credited upon any judgment or judgments rendered in excess of that amount because of injury to or destruction of property of others as a result of any 1 accident.

Payments made in settlement of any claims because of bodily injury, death or property damage arising from a motor vehicle accident shall be credited in reduction of the amounts provided for in this section."

Section 7. Amend §6102 (a), Chapter 21, Title 21, Delaware Code, by striking the figures "5,000", "10,000", and "1,000" as the same appear in lines 8, 9, and 11 respectively and inserting in lieu thereof the figures "10,000", "20,000" and "5,000" respectively.

Approved May 19, 1978.