The U.S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals recently upheld a lower court decision that an insurer could not state a claim for relief under South Carolina law in seeking to compel another insurer to join in a mutual insured’s defense. Auto-Owners Ins. Co. v. Travelers Cas. and Sur. Co. of America, 597 Fed.Appx. 197 (4th Cir. March 18, 2015)
One of the insured’s insurers sought an order requiring another liability insurer of the insured’s to join in the defense of the insured in an underlying lawsuit. The trial court granted the other insurer’s motion for summary judgment, and the defending insurer appealed. Affirming, the Fourth Circuit noted that under South Carolina law the duty to defend is personal to each insurer and that an insurer is not entitled to contribution from another insurer absent a specific contractual right. Because the insurers were not a party to the other’s insurance contract with the insured, the Fourth Circuit affirmed.