What to do if your insurer refuses to defend you against a claim?

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What to do if your insurer refuses to defend you against a claim?

My insurance company is refusing to defend me in a personal injuries claim. An accident occurred in 2008 and I was not driving when the accident occurred. I drove my car after the accident under the instruction of the police and was later convicted for drunk driving. The third party is now insisting that I was driving when the accident occurred. However they have added both myself and the person who was driving my car as defendants to the case but my insurance still refuses to defend me, despite the person who was driving my car put in his defense and admits to being the driver.

Asked on December 8, 2010 under Accident Law, New York

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

First, you can try the internal appeals process with your insurer, to see if you can't get them to reverse their decision. If that either gets you no where or is taking too long, unless you are prepared to simply concede liability and pay the claim against you, you will need to retain your own attorney to defend yourself against the claim and any resulting lawsuit. The attorney can also investigate bringing a legal action against your insurer, for breach of the insurance contract (the policy) and their obligations thereunder, in which you would seek to enforce the contract and recover for any additional losses you suffered. Presumably, the insurer believes they have grounds to not defend or indemnify you (if they are not doing the one, they are almost certanly not going to do the other), undoubtedly on DUI/DWI grounds (since that is an exclusion to coverage under most policies). Whether they are breaching their duty will depend upon the facts--are they right to think that?--and what can be proven.


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