Liability Insurer’s Duty To Defend Insured Is Broader Than Its Duty To Indemnify

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In Advanced Systems, an insurer refused to defend its insured, a fire protection subcontractor.

June 3, 2019
David Adelstein - Florida Construction Legal Updates

When it comes to liability insurance, an insurer’s duty to defend its insured from a third-party claim is much broader than its duty to indemnify. This broad duty to defend an insured is very important and, as an insured, you need to know this. “A liability insurer’s obligation, with respect to its duty to defend, is not determined by the insured’s actual liability but rather by whether the alleged basis of the action against the insurer falls within the policy’s coverage.” Advanced Systems, Inc. v. Gotham Ins. Co., 44 Fla. L. Weekly D996b (Fla. 3d DCA 2019) (internal quotation omitted). This means:

Even where the complaint alleges facts partially within and partially outside the coverage of a policy, the insurer is nonetheless obligated to defend the entire suit, even if the facts later demonstrate that no coverage actually exists. And, the insurer must defend even if the allegations in the complaint are factually incorrect or meritless. As such, an insurer is obligated to defend a claim even if it is uncertain whether coverage exists under the policy. Furthermore, once a court finds that there is a duty to defend, the duty will continue even though it is ultimately determined that the alleged cause of action is groundless and no liability is found within the policy provisions defining coverage.
Advanced Systems, supra(internal citations and quotations omitted).

Mr. Adelstein may be contacted at dma@kirwinnorris.com



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