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Delaware insists on prompt insurance payment

Prompt-payment laws instituted in Delaware in the fall of 2001 mean consumers should see faster payments of insurance claims, even as insurers say it puts undue burdens on their checkbooks.

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Insurance Commissioner Donna Lee Williams implemented rules that demand prompt payment of claims by insurance companies after she received numerous complaints from consumers about delayed payments and excuses from insurers.

The newest regulation requires insurance companies to pay settled claims within 30 days, whether settled by the court or by unchallenged arbitration awards. It also requires insurers to pay in a timely manner in cases where liability is "reasonably clear," or where the case has been settled before court action has taken place.

Insurance companies that violate the regulation more than three times within three years are subject to fines and possible license suspension or revocation.

Commissioner Williams says the regulations send a message to insurance companies that consumers will be protected in Delaware.

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