Duty to Defend

Judge gavel and flag

The centerpiece of every liability insurance policy is the insurer’s duty to defend the insured once accurate tender of a covered third-party claim has taken place. The duty to defend is a contractual obligation that is called upon in instances where the insured is sued for something that is feasibly covered under the insurance policy. This indicates that the insurance company must hire a lawyer to file an answer to a lawsuit in order to protect the insured’s welfare. High legal costs make the duty to defend incredibly important, as it is viewed as one of the most valuable rights. Every liability policy maintains a duty for the insured to inform the insurance company if and when lawsuit papers are served to the insured. It is essential for the insured to get these papers to the insurance company as soon as possible. This process is called “tender of defense” to the insurer and is what initiates the duty to defend. Those who neglect to inform their insurance company in a timely manner may lose coverage. Arguello, Hope & Associates represents clients in all types of insurance claims. Our skilled insurance claims attorneys have years of experience in handling cases just like yours. Our goal is to handle each case as competently and efficiently as possible, as we know you and your family are depending on quick results. If you or a loved one is looking for guidance for your insurance claim, our legal staff is prepared to help you today. Complete a CONFIDENTIAL EVALUATION form on this page to get started.

The Insurer’s Responsibility: Duty to Defend

When the insured is sued and then tenders defense to its liability insurer for the claim, the duty of defend has been initiated. This process is generally completed when the insured sends a copy of the complaint and a cover letter to the insurance company. The paperwork must include information regarding the relevant insurance policy as well as the demand of an immediate defense. Once the insurer receives this information, they have the following options:

  1. Defend
  2. Seek declaratory judgment of no coverage
  3. Seek a declaratory judgment or refuse to defend

Once the insurer chooses to defend, they must defend the claim with legal representation. Some insurance companies have in-house attorneys (where permitted) or choose to use an outside law firm. Generally, the insured must only establish a potential for policy coverage to trigger the insurer’s duty to defend. As such, even when coverage is in doubt and eventually does not apply, the duty to defend may still exist. Unfortunately, many insured parties find themselves in an intense battle with their own insurer. The complexities of these cases often give rise to the necessity of a liability insurance attorney. Arguello, Hope & Associates handles liability insurance cases where the insurer asserts the following rights:

  • Based on conditions or exclusions they refuse defense
  • Accepting of coverage of less than all of the adverse claims
  • Declines the duty to defend after initially accepting it with uncertainties
  • Attempts to limit or eliminate liability by filing a declaratory judgment action

Arguello, Hope & Associates trial lawyers maintain a deep understanding of insurance liability law through years of experience in complex litigation. We hold the insurer to its duty to defend and take pride in our ability to help the insured.

Contact our Skilled Insurance Claim Attorneys Today

Dealing with insurance companies is something that no one wants to do. Unfortunately, some situations make dealing with your insurance company inevitable. The duty to defend is essential in every liability insurance policy. Our skilled insurance claim lawyers provide guidance for a variety of tort claims from unfair competition to claims of negligence and every claim in between. We live by the philosophy that anything worth doing is worth doing right, with what really matters being the result we achieve for you. With this mentality, our insurance liability attorneys focus on results in our pursuit of justice for you and your family. If you or a loved one is seeking legal help for your insurance duty to defend claim, we are here to help. To learn more about your options, please complete a CONFIDENTIAL EVALUATION form on this page.