Insurers Have a Duty to Defend at the Outset of Litigation Even If a SIR Has Not Been Exhausted

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A self-insured retention (SIR) provision does not automatically relieve a primary insurer of its duty to pay first-dollar in defending its insured. The policy must expressly and unambiguously make the insurer’s duty to defend subject to the SIR. Insureds are entitled to the insurer’s participation in their defense at the outset of litigation even if the SIR has not been exhausted.

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