Court Finds That SIR Requirements are Not Incorporated into High Level Excess Policies and That Excess Insurers’ Payment of Defense Costs is Not Conditioned on Actual Liability

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These Haight Brown & Bonesteel attorneys analyze the case Deere & Co. v. Allstate Ins. Co.

April 22, 2019
Christopher Kendrick & Valerie A. Moore – Haight Brown & Bonesteel LLP

In Deere & Co. v. Allstate Ins. Co. (No. A145170, filed 2/25/19), a California appeals court held that the insured was not required to pay additional self-insured retentions (SIRs) in order to trigger higher level excess coverage because the retained limits applicable to the first layer of coverage did not also apply to the higher-layer excess policies.

In Deere, the insured was sued for injuries from alleged exposure to asbestos-containing assemblies used in Deere machines. In a declaratory relief action against its umbrella and excess insurers, the case was tried on: (1) whether the higher-layer excess policies were triggered once the first-layer excess policy limits, which were subject to an SIR paid by Deere, had been exhausted; and (2) whether the insurers’ indemnity obligation extended to Deere’s defense costs incurred in asbestos claims that had been dismissed. The trial court found in favor of the insurers, concluding that the retained limits in the first layer of coverage also applied to the higher-layer excess, which was not triggered until Deere paid additional SIRs. The court also concluded that the insurers were not obligated to pay defense costs when underlying cases were dismissed without payment to a claimant either by judgment or settlement.

Mr. Kendrick may be contacted at ckendrick@hbblaw.com
Ms. Moore may be contacted at vmoore@hbblaw.com
Reprinted courtesy of Christopher Kendrick, Haight Brown & Bonesteel LLP and Valerie A. Moore, Haight Brown & Bonesteel LLP



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