SENATE BILL NO. 251
AN ACT TO AMEND CHAPTER 68 OF TITLE 16, DELAWARE CODE RELATING TO IMMUNITY FOR THE REPORTING OP ARSON.
WHEREAS, the crime of arson has become an Increasing problem in our society resulting in the loss of life and property; and
WHEREAS, insurance companies undergo a substantial risk of being involved in
civil litigation if they report suspected acts of arson to appropriate authorities; and
WHEREAS, it is felt that it would be helpful in reducing the instances of arson by granting a certain limited immunity for the reporting of suspected arson to appropriate authorities.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY OP THE STATE OF DELAWARE:
Section 1. Amend Chapter 68, Title 16, Delaware Code by designating §6801 and §6802 as Subchapter I and establishing a new Subchapter II to read as follows:
"Subchapter U. Immunity for Reporting of Arson
As used in this Subchapter:
(a) 'Authorized agencies' shall mean:
(1) The State Fire Marshal, or his equivalent in any political subdivision of the State of Delaware, when authorized or charged with the investigation of fires at the place where the fire actually took place.
(1) The State Police or Police of a duly organized county or municipal police agency;
(1) The Department of Justice of the State of Delaware;
(2) County Law Departments or the Solicitor of a Municipality;
(3) The Federal Bureau of Investigation or any other Federal agency;
(8) The United States Attorney's Office when authorized or charged with investigation or prosecution of the fire in question.
(b) 'Relevant' means information having any tendency to make the existence of any fact that is of consequence to the investigation or determination of the issue more probable or less probable than it would be without the evidence.
(e) Material will be 'deemed important', if within the sole discretion of the 'authorized agency', such material is requested by that 'authorized agency'.
(d) 'Action', as used in this statute, shall include nonaction or the failure to take action.
(e) 'Immune', as used in §6810(d) of this Act, shall mean that neither a civil action nor a criminal prosecution may arise from any action taken pursuant to §§6811, 6812, and 6813 of this Act where actual malice on the part of the insurance company or authorized agency against the insured is not present.
(f) As used in this Section 'insurance company' includes the Insurance Placement Facility of Delaware (FAIR Plan).
§6811. Disclosure of Information
(a) Any authorized agency may, in writing require the insurance company at interest to release to the requesting agency any or all relevant information or evidence deemed important to the authorized agency which the company may have in its possession, relating to the fire loss in question. Relevant information may include, without limitation herein:
(1) Pertinent insurance policy information relevant to a fire loss under investigation and any application for such a policy;
(2) Policy premium payment records which are available;
(3) History of previous claims made by the insured;
(4) Material relating to the investigation of the loss, including statements of any person, proof of loss, or any other evidence relevant to the investigation.
(bX1) When an insurance company has reason to believe that a fire loss in which it has an interest may be of other than accidental cause, and such fire loss is in excess of Five Thousand Dollars ($5,000.00), then, for the purpose of notification and for having such fire loss investigated, the company shall, in writing, notify an authorized agency and provide it with any or all material developed from the company's inquiry into the fire loss.
(2) When an insurance company provides any one of the authorized agencies with notice of a fire loss, it shall be sufficient notice for the purpose of this act.
(3) Nothing in §6811(b) of this Act shall abrogate or impair the rights or powers created under §6811(a) of this Act.
(c) The authorized agency provided with information pursuant to 56811(a) or §6811(b) of this Act and in furtherance of its own purposes, may release or provide information to any of the other authorized agencies.
(d) Any insurance company providing information to an authorized agency or agencies pursuant to §6811(a) or §6811(b) of this Act shall have the right to request relevant information and receive from the authorized agency or agencies within a reasonable time, not to exceed thirty (30) days, the information requested.
(e) Any insurance company, or person acting in its behalf; or authorized agency who releases information whether oral or written, pursuant to §6811(a) or §6811(b) of this Act shall be immune from any liability arising out of a civil action, or criminal prosecution.
(a) Except as provided in §6811(c) any authorized agency and insurance company described in §6810 or §6811 of this Act who receives any information furnished pursuant to this Act, shall hold the information in confidence until such time as its release is required pursuant to a criminal or civil proceeding.
(b) Any authorized agency referred to in 56810 of this Act, or their personnel, may be required to testify in any litigation in which the insurance company at interest is named as a party.
(a) No person or agency shall intentionally or knowingly refuse to release any information requested pursuant to §6811(a) or §6811(b) of this Act.
(b) No person shall intentionally or knowingly refuse to release to authorized agencies relevant information pursuant to §6811(b) of this Aet.
(c) No person shall fail to hold in confidence information required to be held in confidence by §6812 of this Act.
If any provision of this Act or the application thereof to any person or circumstance is held invalid, the remainder of this Act and the application of such provision to other persons or circumstances shall not be affected thereby, and to this and the provisions of this Act are declared to be severable."
Section 2. This Act shall become effective immediately upon enactment into law.
Approved April 15, 1880.