CHAPTER 173

FORMERLY

SENATE BILL NO. 189

AS AMENDED BY

SENATE AMENDMENT NO. 1 AND

HOUSE AMENDMENT NOS. 1 AND 2

AN ACT TO AMEND TITLE 18 OF THE DELAWARE CODE RELATING TO ARBITRATION OF HOMEOWNERS' INSURANCE CLAIMS.

BE IT ENACTED BY THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF THE STATE OF DELAWARE:

Section 1. Amend Chapter 3, Title 18 of the Delaware Code by adding thereto a new section to read as follows:

"§335. Arbitration of disputes involving homeowners' insurance coverage.

(a) Every insurer providing insurance coverage for homeowners' risks shall be required to submit to arbitration, in the manner set forth in this section, any dispute relating to the amounts owed under any claim for losses or damages by an insured claiming to have suffered losses or damages under the contract. Disputes relating to whether coverage exists and under what terms and conditions the coverage exists shall not be subject to the arbitration process established in this section. Notwithstanding the foregoing, where the insurance policy provides an arbitration or appraisal provision in a form approved by the Insurance Department, the arbitration mandated by this subsection shall not apply.

(b) All arbitration shall be administered by the Insurance Commissioner or his/her nominee.

(c) The Insurance Commissioner or his/her nominee shall establish panels of arbitrators in accordance with the rules and regulations which shall be promulgated pursuant to this section. No cause of action shall arise nor any liability imposed against any individual appointed to the panel for any conduct performed in good faith while carrying out the provisions of this section.

(d) Any request by an insured for arbitration shall be in writing and mailed to the Insurance Commissioner within 90 days from the date an offer of settlement or denial of coverage or liability has been made by an insurer. Neither party shall be held to have waived any of its rights by an act relating to arbitration and either party shall have a right to trial de novo to the Superior Court so long as notice of appeal is filed with that Court in the manner set forth by its rules within ninety (90) days of the date of the arbitration decision being rendered.

(e) The Insurance Commissioner shall establish a schedule of fees for arbitration which shall not exceed $75.

(C) The fee for arbitration shall be payable to the Department of Insurance at the time of the filing of the request for arbitration and shall be maintained in a special fund identified as the 'Arbitration Fund, which shall remain separate and segregated from the General Fund. The compensation paid to the arbitration panel shall be payable from this fund."

Section 2. This Act shall become effective on January 1, 1996.

Approved July 7, 1995