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Information Center: Insurance Defense

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Frequently Asked Questions About Insurance Defense

Q: When an insurer is providing a defense under a reservation of rights, is the insurer required to hire separate counsel?

A: In general, an insurer should take steps to shield duty to defend counsel from coverage issues. However, depending on the jurisdiction and circumstances of a particular case, an insurer that provides a defense under a reservation of rights may be required to hire separate counsel.

Q: What are the potential consequences of an insurer's failure to hire separate counsel?

A: If an insurer is required to hire separate counsel because of the laws of a particular jurisdiction, the circumstances of a particular case or both, and the insurer fails to engage separate counsel, allegations of bad faith may result.

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Insurance Defense - An Overview

In general, insurance defense includes the representation of insureds in defense of lawsuits arising out of an accident or occurrence covered under the insured’s policy and pursuant to the insurer’s duty to defend. However, many insurance defense practitioners also advise and represent insurance carriers in matters involving claims handling, in the defense of litigation or both. Contact Sanders & Parks, P.C. in Phoenix, AZ, to schedule a consultation with an attorney to discuss how our insurance defense practice can help you.

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Importance of Local Defense Counsel in Motor Vehicle Accident Cases

The jurisdiction in which a motor vehicle accident lawsuit will be filed is a critical factor in developing a successful defense strategy. Because of local defense counsel's experience in a particular field, type of litigation or jurisdiction, he or she is in an excellent position to evaluate liability and develop an effective defense strategy.

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Declaratory Judgment Actions in Insurance Coverage Cases

Because there are many advantages to resolving insurance coverage cases as early as possible, a majority of insurance coverage cases are disposed of through declaratory judgment actions. Courts in different states and even courts within the same state may handle declaratory judgment actions differently; therefore, hiring local counsel who is knowledgeable of the local rules and practices of the courts in which the motion will be filed is often critical to the early and successful resolution of insurance coverage disputes.

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Subrogation is an important tool used by insurance companies to recover claims outlays. Because subrogation principles can involve unique issues and vary dramatically by state, local counsel who is familiar with the subrogation laws of the relevant jurisdiction is often critical to the successful prosecution of subrogation actions.

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Ethical Issues and Conflicts of Interest in Insurance Defense

Local defense counsel can often provide valuable insight into local law and practice to avoid or appropriately handle conflicts of interest and ethical concerns. Avoiding or appropriately handling conflicts can result in numerous benefits to the insurer, including retention of its right to control the defense and avoidance of bad faith claims.

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Insurance Defense Resource Links

American Bar Association, Tort Trial and Insurance Practice Section (TIPS)
ABA Tort Trial and Insurance Practice Section (TIPS) is recognized as the source of knowledge and leadership on trial practice and critical issues of justice that involve tort and insurance law.

McCarran-Ferguson Act
This website, maintained by the Legal Information Institute (LII) at Cornell University Law School, contains the full text of the McCarran-Ferguson Act (15 USC §§ 1011 et seq.) as codified in Title 15 of the United States Code.

State Insurance Statutes
This website contains and alphabetical listing of links to state insurance statutes.

Insurance Law Digest Tables (PDF)
The Law Digest Tables are produced and made available online in PDF format by A.M. Best Company, Inc. The Tables contain brief summaries of insurance laws for use by insurance claims departments, attorneys and other interested parties. Subjects covered include automobiles, negligence, limitation of time for commencement of action and financial responsibility law (automobiles). Automobile stoppage charts are also included.

Insurance Law Overview
This website, maintained by the Legal Information Institute (LII) at Cornell University Law School, provides general information about the law of insurance as well as links to federal and state judicial decisions concerning the insurance industry.

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