Statutes and regulations rarely specify an exact deadline for how long an insurer can delay before forfeiting its right to control the defense.  Despite this lack of specificity, a federal court recently established an exact deadline for accepting the duty to defend.  See Travelers Indemnity Co. of Connecticut v. Centex Homes,No. 11-CV-03638 (N.D. Cal. Oct. 7, 2015). The decision was reached under California law, but it is based on general insurance law principles and thus may be persuasive precedent in other jurisdictions as well.  In Centex,the district court reasoned that an insurer breached its duty to defend if it did not “provide counsel or to guarantee the payment of legal fees immediately after an insurer’s duty to defend has been triggered” (emphasis added).  Based on the policyholder’s right to “immediate” assistance, the court held that an insurer needed to begin defending its insured within the time period for responding to the underlying complaint, which in California was 30 days.  The court then applied this 30-day rule to determine whether the insurer had excessively delayed in accepting its duty to defend two underlying actions.  One of the actions was filed on April 19, 2011, but the insurer did not accept its duty to defend until June 1, 2011.  In the other action, the complaint was filed on October 15, 2010, but the insurer did not accept its duty to defend until January 21, 2011.  Because the insurer delayed more than 30 days with regards to both actions, the court held that the insurer breached its duty to defend both of them.  As a result, the insurer was held to have forfeited its right to control the defense in both actions, and policyholder was permitted to select its own preferred counsel paid for by the insurer.