Insurance provides an important safety net for property owners, business owners, farmers, medical providers, individuals who are at fault in accidents, and other groups. By pooling risk, insurance companies help restore policyholders to their previous economic standing after they suffer a loss. Insurance defense attorneys assist both insurance companies and insured parties with a wide array of matters related to litigation. An experienced team of insurance defense attorneys can defend cases in a number of areas, including:
- Insurance malpractice.
- Property and casualty insurance.
- Automobile accidents.
- Fraud investigations.
- Litigation initiated in bad faith.
- Commercial insurance issues.
Who Is Represented by Insurance Defense Attorneys?
Both insurance companies and insured parties work with insurance defense attorneys. In some cases, insurance companies retain attorneys to represent insured parties in liability suits, such as in the case of an automobile accident for which an insured party is found to be at fault. An insurance defense attorney may represent both an insurance provider and an insured party at the same time in certain cases.
Insurance defense attorneys can represent insurance companies and insured parties in every stage of a liability lawsuit, including discovery, defense, and either settlement or trial. Insurance companies also may retain insurance defense attorneys to handle only certain aspects of cases — such as investigating and defending liability suits — and may keep responsibility for negotiating settlements with their in-house counsel.
What Legal Issues Does Insurance Defense Include?
Across a broad array of legal issues, insurance defense attorneys provide sound advice and representation to their clients. For example, insurance defense attorneys may advise their clients on the legal doctrine of subrogation, in which an insurer has paid an insured party for losses and injuries. In some cases, insurers — acting as the subrogee — may then sue the party that caused the losses and injuries to the insured party.
Insurance defense attorneys also review insurance agreements to determine if a basis for a suit or a defense in a suit exists. Although insurance agreements across categories can vary significantly, all policies include certain elements. They all stand as legally binding contracts, include clauses outlining duties and obligations of the parties, and provide a definition of a loss according to the policy.
The “duty to settle” also is among the issues on which insurance defense attorneys advise clients. Under most liability insurance contracts, insurers may decide whether to settle a lawsuit against an insured party. When an insurance company’s representatives decide to settle a case, they must give equal consideration to the interests of the insured party as they give their own interests.
Typically, insurance companies have a duty to settle a lawsuit under legal tests that can vary by jurisdiction, including:
- When settling appears to be the most reasonable way of handling a case.
- When a significant risk exists of recovery that exceeds policy limits.
Additional legal issues involved in insurance defense include:
- Coverage types and inclusions.
- Statements made under oath.
- Defense of underinsured and uninsured persons.
- Claims relating to construction, homeowners’ and automobile policies.
- Employment law.
- Personal injury and product liability.
- Damage to property.
- Loss of crops.
- Professional and premises liability.
The Pennsylvania insurance defense attorneys at Solnick & Associates, LLC, assist both insurance companies and insured parties in investigating, settling or litigating many types of claims related to insurance matters.