Insurer's Duty to Defend: Navigating the "Eight Corners" Rule, Withdrawal From an Ongoing Defense and More

Advocating Complex Defense Duty Issues From Insurer and Policyholder Perspectives

Recording of a 90-minute CLE webinar with Q&A

Conducted on Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Recorded event now available

or call 1-800-926-7926
Course Materials

This CLE course will discuss three important aspects of a liability insurer's duty to defend: (1) determining an insurer's duty to defend from pleadings and other sources; (2) circumstances when an insurer can withdraw from a defense; and (3) sometimes overlooked issues where there is collusion in the insurer-insured-claimant relationship. The program will look at how various jurisdictions interpret these thorny issues and best arguments from the perspective of both insurers and policyholders.


The "eight corners" rule requires that when deciding whether an insurer has a duty to defend, the court should examine only the "four corners" of the policy and the allegations in the "four corners" of a claimant's complaint against the insured. But, some courts look beyond those documents to determine whether the insurer's duty to defend is implicated. This program explores what courts have looked to beyond the "eight corners" of the policy and the complaint, and whether courts that have done so have provided principled guidance for parties determining whether a duty to defend exists.

Sometimes circumstances change after an insurer has agreed to defend its insured. If so, can the insurer terminate the defense? This program evaluates this question in situations such as where the policy limits are exhausted by settlement or payment of the judgment and where a claimant's potentially covered claims in its suit against the policyholder are no longer an issue.

When defense under a liability policy is at issue, various parties, including the insurer, the insured and the claimant that has made a claim against the insured, have an interest in whether the insurer will assume the insured's defense against the claimant's claim. Sometimes, two of the three parties will attempt to tip the scales to manipulate the defense obligation. Is this ever proper? What remedies does the odd party out have when the other two parties conspire to influence the defense obligation? The program will explore these questions and more.

Listen as our panel of attorneys guides insurance coverage counsel regarding the scope of the insurer's duty to defend. The panel will look at these complex issues and provide insight into how they impact the duty to defend. The program will look at how various jurisdictions interpret these thorny issues and best arguments from perspectives of both insurers and policyholders.



  1. Determining the duty to defend under the "eight corners" rule and beyond
  2. An insurer's withdrawal from an ongoing defense
  3. The role of collaborative efforts by the parties interested in a liability policy to influence defense or coverage outcomes


The panel will review these and other relevant issues:

  • What standards are courts applying to determine the duty to defend? What strategies are available to the insurer and the policyholder when information outside of the liability policy and the pleadings potentially impacts whether a duty to defend exists?
  • Under what circumstances can a defending insurer terminate that defense if circumstances change? What can an insured do to protect itself if an insurer is trying to withdraw a defense?
  • Are there any circumstances where it is permissible for an insured and a claimant or an insurer and a claimant to cooperate to influence defense or coverage obligations? What can the parties do to protect their interests if those interests will be impacted by the cooperation between other parties?


Harris, Eliot
Eliot M. Harris

Williams Kastner

Mr. Harris' practice focuses on commercial litigation with an emphasis on insurance coverage, including general...  |  Read More

Jackson, Kirsten
Kirsten C. Jackson

Kasowitz Benson Torres

Ms. Jackson works on behalf of companies to recover insurance assets. She assists in obtaining millions of dollars in...  |  Read More

Access Anytime, Anywhere

Strafford will process CLE credit for one person on each recording. All formats include course handouts.

To find out which recorded format will provide the best CLE option, select your state:

CLE On-Demand Video