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Four years of high school Latin plus one in college equals one murky memory of the dead language. Subpoena is a Latin term (meaning, “under penalty”) that risk managers often encounter. Subpoenas and deposition notices often cause risk managers to report them to insurers as notices of claims. Subpoenas or notices of depositions are not technically demands for monetary damages. If pressed on the issue, most adjusters would likely define a claim as a demand for monetary damages. (Interestingly, many insurance policies do not define the word claim.) Whether this creates an ambiguity is debatable. A hazard for insurers is that the lack of definition may muddy the waters enough that an insured could argue that a subpoena or a deposition notice are de facto claims.

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