550. (a) Subject to the provisions of this chapter, an action to
establish the decedent's liability for which the decedent was
protected by insurance may be commenced or continued against the
decedent's estate without the need to join as a party the decedent's
personal representative or successor in interest.
(b) The remedy provided in this chapter is cumulative and may be
pursued concurrently with other remedies.
551. Notwithstanding Section 366.2 of the Code of Civil Procedure,
if the limitations period otherwise applicable to the action has not
expired at the time of the decedent's death, an action under this
chapter may be commenced within one year after the expiration of the
limitations period otherwise applicable.
552. (a) An action under this chapter shall name as the defendant,
"Estate of (name of decedent), Deceased." Summons shall be served on
a person designated in writing by the insurer or, if none, on the
insurer. Further proceedings shall be in the name of the estate, but
otherwise shall be conducted in the same manner as if the action were
against the personal representative.
(b) On motion of an interested person, or on its own motion, the
court in which the action is pending may, for good cause, order the
appointment and substitution of a personal representative as the
(c) An action against the estate of the decedent under this
chapter may be consolidated with an action against the personal
553. The insurer may deny or otherwise contest its liability in an
action under this chapter or by an independent action. Unless the
personal representative is joined as a party, a judgment in the
action under this chapter or in the independent action does not
adjudicate rights by or against the estate.
554. (a) Except as provided in subdivision (b), either the damages
sought in an action under this chapter shall be within the limits and
coverage of the insurance, or recovery of damages outside the limits
or coverage of the insurance shall be waived. A judgment in favor of
the plaintiff in the action is enforceable only from the insurance
coverage and not against property in the estate.
(b) Where the amount of damages sought in the action exceeds the
coverage of the insurance, subdivision (a) does not apply if both of
the following conditions are satisfied:
(1) The personal representative is joined as a party to the
(2) The plaintiff files a claim in compliance with Section 9390.
555. (a) This chapter does not apply to an action commenced before
July 1, 1989.
(b) The applicable law in effect before July 1, 1989, continues to
apply to an action commenced before July 1, 1989, notwithstanding
its repeal by Chapter 1199 of the Statutes of 1988.