If I am sued, can my insurance company settle the case without my consent?

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Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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UPDATED: Dec 29, 2019

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Under most types of liability insurance, the insurance company has the contractual right to settle or defend the case as it sees fit. You normally will have an opportunity to provide input, but the company typically has no obligation to get your consent or approval. A common exception to this involves professional liability policies, such as medical malpractice or architects errors and omissions coverage, under which consent of the insured usually is required for any settlement.

In cases where some claims are covered and others are not, the insurer can settle only the covered claims. If the insurer does this, its duty to defend you terminates. It will no longer pay for the lawyer that it appointed for you. Similarly, if the plaintiff is claiming damages that exceed the limits of your policy, the insurer can pay the policy limits to the plaintiff and terminate its defense. In either case, you will either have to pay the lawyer the insurance company appointed for you to continue representing you or find your own lawyer.

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