Duty to Defend
When liability insurance was first offered to the public it was concerned only with indemnity. As liability insurance developed, the concern about defense costs matured into clauses promising defense as well as indemnity—so-called dual-promise policies.
These clauses, although relatively recent, have led to the development of a considerable body of law interpreting the agreements to defend. To properly investigate a casualty or liability claim for defense and indemnity, an adjuster must understand the history of the promise to defend and understand how it grew from the original promise to indemnify.
In the leading case of Gray v. Zurich Ins. Co., 65 Cal.2d 263, 54 Cal. Rptr. 104 (1966) the Supreme Court of California set the basic rule followed in most jurisdictions for deciding whether an insurer owes a duty to defend or not. It found that insurers issuing dual-promise policies (a promise to both defend and indemnify) are required to defend any suit in which the re is a potentiality that the insurer will have to indemnify.
The insured in Gray was alleged to have assaulted and battered the plaintiff. The policy, and the statutes of California, prohibited indemnity for an intentional act of an insured. Assault and battery are, by definition, intentional acts, so the insurer argued that it owed no defense.
© 2020 – Barry Zalma
Barry Zalma, Esq., CFE, now limits his practice to service as an insurance consultant specializing in insurance coverage, insurance claims handling, insurance bad faith and insurance fraud almost equally for insurers and policyholders. He also serves as an arbitrator or mediator for insurance related disputes. He practiced law in California for more than 44 years as an insurance coverage and claims handling lawyer and more than 52 years in the insurance business. He is available at http://www.zalma.com and email@example.com.
Mr. Zalma is the first recipient of the first annual Claims Magazine/ACE Legend Award.
Over the last 52 years Barry Zalma has dedicated his life to insurance, insurance claims and the need to defeat insurance fraud. He has created the following library of books and other materials to make it possible for insurers and their claims staff to become insurance claims professionals.
Read posts from Barry Zalma at https://parler.com/profile/Zalma/posts