The Auto Insurance Claim Process
The insurance company must respond promptly to your claim.
If the damage to your car is substantial, you should have an independent scope of loss and repair estimate prepared by a reputable repair shop. This is so regardless of whether the damage is going to be paid under the collision coverage of your own policy, or under the liability coverage of the person who caused the accident.
For Fault insurance liability claims where you were at fault, your insurance company must determine whether a suit against you is covered by the policy. If your insurer agrees to represent you, but only with a “Reservation of Rights,” that means your insurance company may be contending that the suit against you is not covered under your policy.
An example of this would be if you knowingly allowed an un-licensed driver to operate your car. In such a situation, you may wind up personally responsible for paying any judgment against you and in addition, may be asked to reimburse your insurer for all legal fees and costs incurred in your defense.
If your insurer is defending the case against you with one of these “reservations of rights” the attorney representing you in the case may have a “conflict of interest.” This means that the attorney, who is being paid by the insurance company, has a conflict between representing your interests (in wanting there to be insurance coverage applicable to the claim) and those of the insurance company (in contending that there is no coverage).
In such a situation, you should ask the insurer to appoint, and pay for, an independent attorney who represents only YOUR interests in the case.