Standard Insurance Policy May Cover Government Subpoena


Responding to a government subpoena presents unique and significant challenges for in-house counsel. Government agencies often wield broad subpoena powers and may demand reams of information with minimal explanation. And many state and federal regulators have recently become more aggressive than ever in issuing and pursuing subpoenas. In this context, the expensive work of responding to subpoenas — reviewing documents, protecting privileges, contesting overbroad requests — can become especially time consuming and costly. But, even though most in-house counsel know all too well about the challenges and costs of defending government subpoenas, they may not realize that their existing insurance policies might provide coverage for these defense costs — even if those policies do not expressly address subpoenas. In particular, under standard language found in many directors and officers policies, coverage for government subpoenas is often available: (1) with respect to private companies, to both the company and individual insureds; and (2) with respect to public companies, to at least the individual insureds.

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Gilbert LLP is a Washington-based law firm specializing in litigation and strategic risk management, insurance recovery and complex dispute resolution.