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If I Hire a Lawyer, Can the Insurance Company Still Contact Me?

Posted by Scott Edwards | Jul 26, 2019 | 0 Comments

Once an insurance company learns that a person is represented by an attorney, in practice the adjuster no longer contacts the person directly. All future communication goes through the attorney. This is something we state in all letters we send to an insurance company notifying them of our involvement. There are good reasons for this.

One of the main reasons most of our clients hire an attorney is so that they don't lose any of their rights they have as accident victims and so that they don't have to deal with the hassle of presenting an claim to insurance an company with more experience, more time, more money, and more power than they have. They don't want to have the insurance company take advantage of them.

There are multiple reasons why an insurance company, or its lawyers, ought not to contact someone who is represented by at attorney.

Though we are aware of no insurance law statute or national regulation that expressly prohibits all such contact, the issue was addressed way back in 1939. An agreement was made by the National Conference of Lawyers, Insurance Companies, and Adjuster—which was formed under the sponsorship of the American Bar Association and approved by various insurance organizations (the American Insurance Association, the American Mutual Insurance Alliance, the International Claim Association, amongst others). It was agreed that “[t]he companies or their representatives will not deal directly with any claimant represented by an attorney without the consent of the attorney.”

This is in line with Washington state law, set forth the Washington Administrative Code or the “WAC”. Section 284-30-330 of the WAC defines nineteen “specific unfair claims settlement practices” that govern Washington automobile insurers. Number 19 makes it an unfair practice for an insurance company to “negotiate[e] or settl[e] a claim directly with any claimant known to be represented by an attorney without the attorney's knowledge and consent. Though that same section of the code does allow your own insurance company to contact you even if you're represented by an attorney to discuss “routine inquiries …to identify the claimant or to obtain details concerning the claim”, as stated above, in practice, insurance companies just don't reach out to represented persons.

These rules are all consistent with the well-known prohibition of attorneys not to communicate with persons represented by counsel. Rule 4.2 of the attorney ethics rules, states that “in representing a client, a lawyer shall not communicate about the subject of the representation with a person the lawyer knows to be represented by another lawyer in the matter, unless the lawyer has the consent of the other lawyer or is authorized to do so by law or a court order.”

In summary, and in conclusion, “no.” the insurance company should not contact you after learning you are represented by an attorney.

About the Author

Scott Edwards

Scott Edwards is a partner at Schauermann Thayer Jacobs Staples & Edwards law firm. Scott is licensed in both Oregon and Washington, and has been practicing law since 2008. Though Scott started his career working for insurance companies, he now focuses his practice on personal injury, auto accident, biking accident, and insurance cases. In his free time, Scott enjoys spending time pedaling around the streets of Vancouver, Washington and Portland, Oregon on his bicycle.

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