Nevada Insureds Can Rely on Extrinsic Facts to Show that An Insurer Owes a Duty to Defend

Glasses lying on Insurance Coverage document

This decision will help insureds by clarifying that in Nevada, an insured can rely on extrinsic evidence available to the insurer to establish an insurer’s duty to defend.

November 15, 2021
Sarah J. Odia & Scott S. Thomas - Payne & Fears

On Oct. 28, 2021, the Nevada Supreme Court in Zurich American Insurance Company v.. Ironshore Specialty Insurance Company, 137 Nev. Adv. Op. 66, held that an insured can rely on extrinsic facts to show that an insurer has a duty to defend the insured, as long as the facts were available to the insurer at the time the insured tendered the claim. The court also held that an insured has the burden of proving that an exception to an exclusion in an insurance policy applies to create a duty to defend.

In Zurich, Ironshore refused to defend to its insured against multiple property damage claims arising out of construction defects, claiming that its policies’ continuing and progressive damage exclusions barred coverage. The underlying lawsuits made no specific allegations describing when or how the property damage occurred. Ironshore claimed that the property damage had occurred due to faulty work that predated the commencement of its policies. Two different federal trial courts came to conflicting conclusions in the underlying cases. One held that Ironshore had a duty to defend because Ironshore failed to show that an exception to the exclusion did not apply. The second granted summary judgment in favor of Ironshore holding that the insured failed to meet its burden of proving that an exception to the exclusion applied.

Reprinted courtesy of Sarah J. Odia, Payne & Fears and Scott S. Thomas, Payne & Fears

Ms. Odia may be contacted at sjo@paynefears.com
Mr. Thomas may be contacted at sst@paynefears.com



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