MCFADDEN, C. J., MCMILLIAN, P. J., and SENIOR APPELLATE JUDGE
MCFADDEN, CHIEF JUDGE.
"an insurer assumes and conducts an initial defense
without effectively notifying the insured that it is doing so
with a reservation of rights, the insurer is deemed estopped
from asserting the defense of noncoverage regardless of
whether the insured can show prejudice." World
Harvest Church v. GuideOne Mut. Ins. Co., 287 Ga. 149,
156 (2) (695 S.E.2d 6) (2010). "For a reservation of
rights to be effective, the reservation must be unambiguous;
if it is ambiguous, the purported reservation of rights must
be construed strictly against the insurer and liberally in
favor of the insured." Id. at 152-53 (1).
issue is whether ACCC Insurance Company of Georgia is
estopped from asserting the defense of noncoverage. ACCC
moved for summary judgment on that issue. The trial court
denied the motion, and ACCC appeals. We hold that there are
genuine issues of material fact, so we affirm.
appeal from an order granting or denying summary judgment, we
conduct a de novo review, construing the evidence and all
reasonable conclusions and inferences drawn therefrom in the
light most favorable to the nonmovant." State Farm
Automobile Mut. Ins. Co. v. Todd, 309 Ga.App. 213,
213-214 (1) (709 S.E.2d 565) (2011) (citation and punctuation
omitted). So viewed, the record shows that this action arises
out of an automobile collision that occurred on November 6,
2016. Shawn Walker sued Ermes Medrano, the named insured on
the ACCC policy at issue, and his son, Anthony Medrano.
filed suit on March 22, 2017. ACCC retained defense counsel
for the Medranos, and that attorney filed an answer to
Walker's complaint on the Medranos' behalf on April
24, 2017. That same day, ACCC filed this declaratory judgment
action to determine whether it had a duty to defend the
Medranos and whether the claims arising from the collision
were covered by the policy.
moved for summary judgment, arguing that there was no
coverage because of certain policy exclusions. Walker
responded arguing, among other things, that ACCC had waived
its noncoverage defenses. The court summarily denied
ACCC's motion. We granted ACCC's application for
interlocutory appeal, and this appeal follows.
Reservation of rights.
argues that the trial court erred in denying its motion for
summary judgment because, under the circumstances of this
case, policy exclusions excepted coverage for damages arising
from the collision and ACCC effectively reserved its rights
to deny coverage. Walker responds that ACCC waived any issues
of noncoverage because it assumed control of the
Medranos' defense without first unambiguously informing
them of its reservation of rights.
insurer "is deemed estopped from asserting the defense
of noncoverage" if it "assumes and conducts an
initial defense without effectively notifying the insured
that it is doing so with a reservation of rights[.]"
World Harvest Church, 287 Ga. at 156 (2).An
insurer's notice of its reservation of rights must be
timely and unambiguous, and it must "fairly inform the
insured of the insurer's position." Id. at
152 (1). To do so, the notice "cannot be only a
statement of future intent" but "[a]t a minimum, .
. . must fairly inform the insured that, notwithstanding the
insurer's defense of the action, it disclaims liability
and does not waive the defenses available to it against the
insured. The reservation of rights should also inform the
insured of the specific basis for the insurer's
reservations about coverage[.]" Id. (citations
and punctuation omitted).
the parties do not dispute that ACCC assumed the defense of
the action on behalf of the Medranos and filed an answer on
their behalf on April 24, 2017. The question is whether ACCC
timely and unambiguously so informed Ermes Medrano and
thereby effectively reserved its rights to deny coverage.
argues that it orally informed Ermes Medrano of its
reservation of rights in a voice mail message left on his
telephone on April 5, 2017 - 19 days before it entered a
defense on the Medranos' behalf. But the employee who
left the voice mail testified only that she had "called
and left a voice mail with Ermes Medrano, because Anthony
Medrano is a minor, regarding ACCC defending the [underlying]
lawsuit, . . . pursuant to [a] previous reservation of rights
issued on the file" "due to coverage
concerns." That message may or may not have been
sufficient. Whether it effectively reserved ACCC's rights
by unambiguously communicating to Ermes Medrano the kind of
information required by World Harvest Church, supra,
287 Ga. at 152-153(1), is a question for the fact finder.
also asserts that not until November 17, 2017, when it took
Anthony Medrano's deposition, did it learn of two of its
potential defenses: that Anthony Medrano was allegedly
driving in violation of the terms of his driver's license
and that Anthony Medrano was allegedly driving without his
father's permission to use the car. Accordingly, ACCC