Is my homeowners insurance supposed to help me respond to a lawsuit filed against me by my neighbor for alleged property damage from water runoff? I’m the owner of a single family home and my neighbor is a business, who left a lawsuit on my porch on 9/11/2023, but did not serve me. I’ve already noticed my homeowners insurance, and filed a claim, which they told me was incorrect and and responded by email saying, “Tell the person who thinks you caused damage to their property that they can call…. and request a liability claim to be opened.” Then later I received a message from my homeowners insurance telling me that a liability claim had been filed and they gave me a claim number. But my homeowners insurance has still not responded to me whether they will file a response for me with The Superior Court in regards to the lawsuit against me. I have already provided a copy of the complaint/lawsuit to my homeowners insurance. Pleased be so kind as to let me know what I should do, if you can.
Yes, most (but not all) homeowner insurance policies contain personal liability coverage. You note that your policy has such coverage. While the precise scope of your coverage can depend on the specific language in your policy, as a general matter you can expect coverage both for the costs of hiring a lawyer and defending the lawsuit (this is referred to as the insurance company’s “duty to defend”) as well as amounts you may ultimately owe to your neighbor who is suing you (this is referred to as the insurance company’s “duty do indemnify”), up to your policy limits. Some sorts of lawsuits are not covered by liability insurance, but these situations are relatively rare (such as a situation in which a person is being sued for inherently harmful and unjustified conduct). But this should not apply to the lawsuit against you, which is likely some sort of property trespass or nuisance claim based on alleged negligence.
You should follow up with your insurance company in writing and insist that they acknowledge responsibility for defending the lawsuit ASAP, and that they process your neighbor’s claim. Since a claim has been opened by your neighbor, your insurance company will hopefully be able to work with your neighbor to pause the lawsuit pending resolution of the claim. If your insurance company does not confirm or deny that they’ll respond to the lawsuit and defend you, you need to contact the CA Department of Insurance without delay at (https://www.insurance.ca.gov/0500-about-us/05-contact/) and if they don’t respond quickly, contact an attorney. You can use our online directory as a starting place for finding one (https://uphelp.org/recovery/professional-help-directory/).