(978) 979-1223


Silver Lake Legal

Construction, Insurance & Business Attorney Boston

With Reservation of Rights, Policyholders Pick Their Own Lawyers

If you get sued, send notice to your insurance company seeking a defense and indemnity.

If in response, you get  a “reservation of rights letter” back from the insurance company, they may or may not pay your claim.

If they do reserve their right not to indemnify you, you can pick your own lawyer and the insurer has to pay for that lawyer.

In Massachusetts, “[w]hen an insurer seeks to defend its insured under a reservation of rights, … the insured may require the insurer either to relinquish its reservation of rights or relinquish its defense of the insured and reimburse the insured for its defense costs” (emphasis added). Herbert A. Sullivan, Inc. v. Utica Mut. Ins. Co., 439 Mass. 387, 406-407 (2003). In other words, “an insurer may [not] reserve its rights to disclaim liability in a case and at the same time insist on retaining control of its defen[s]e.” Three Sons, Inc. v. Phoenix Ins. Co., 357 Mass. 271, 276 (1970)

Usually an insurer who agrees that the claim against you is a covered claim, has to pay the lawyer to defend you.  The insurer can pick the lawyer it will pay to defend you; that lawyer owes its first  loyalty to you,the policy holder.

But when the insurer wants to ‘reserve its rights’ to walk away without paying finally, the policy holder picks its own defense lawyer and the insurer has to pay that lawyer.


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Charles W. Cobb

Attorney at Law


320 Nevada Street Ste 301,

Newton MA 02460




(978) 979-1223

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