As James Taylor might say, I’ve seen fire and I’ve seen rain, but will my insurance cover the damage? California has certainly seen plenty of fire and rain. In the aftermath of the state’s most recent devastating events, damages are estimated to top $5 billion. As Californians file insurance claims to cover their losses, coverage for flooding and mudslide damage has come into focus.
Many policyholders assume that if an insurer pays to defend a claim against them, the policyholder will never be asked to pay those costs back. And most often they’re right. But sometimes the insurer may demand that the policyholder pay back some or all of the defense costs. Such insurers treat the contractual duty to defend or to indemnify the insured for defense costs as little more than a lending facility.
Most of the time, such insurer demands are unjustified. But companies should understand when and under what circumstances insurers might seek reimbursement or recoupment of defense costs so they can avoid agreeing to do so unnecessarily or at least plan in advance financially.