Nautilus Ins. Co. v. Lexington Ins. Co.Annotate this Case
VP & PK purchased an insurance policy from Lexington Insurance Company for work on a construction site. Kila Kila, one of VP & PK’s subcontractors, purchased an insurance policy from Nautilus Insurance Company. Both policies contained an “other insurance” provision and included duties to defend and indemnify. When VP & PK and Kila Kila were sued for damages resulting from the construction, Nautilus funded the defense of both Kila Kila and VP & PK. Lexington satisfied the judgment against VP & PK but did not contribute to the defense costs. Nautilus filed a complaint seeking (1) a declaration that Lexington owed VP & PK a duty to defend, which it breached; and (2) equitable contribution from Lexington for defense costs. The U.S. district court granted summary judgment for Lexington, holding that Lexington’s policy was in excess to Nautilus’s policy, and therefore, Lexington’s duty to defend was not triggered. The Hawaii Supreme Court accepted certified questions from the court of appeals and held, inter alia, that (1) an “other insurance” clause purporting to release an otherwise primary insurer of the duty to defend if the insurer becomes excess as to liability is enforceable, but only as between two or more insurers seeking to allocate or recover defense costs; and (2) an otherwise primary insurer who becomes an excess insurer by operation of an “other insurance” clause has a duty to defend as soon as a claim is tendered to it and there is the mere possibility that coverage of that claim exists under its policy.