In Segal v. State Farm Florida Insurance Company, ____ So.3d ____ (Fla. 4th DCA 2010), the insured was sued for "knowingly and/or negligently" making defamatory statements. The insured sent the lawsuit to State Farm asking State Farm to defend her in the lawsuit and ultimately indemnify her if she was found liable. State Farm provided the insured with homeowner’s insurance as well as an umbrella policy.
State Farm took the position that there was no coverage under either policy, and brought a declaratory judgment action seeking a judicial declaration that there was no duty to defend or indemnify. The trial court agreed, and insured appealed.
The 4th DCA agreed that there was no coverage under the homeowner’s policy. However, the Court determined that there was a duty to defend under the umbrella policy. Specifically, the Court stated:
At the very least, State Farm has a duty to defend Hale in the present case and must defend her against all claims. Hale’s umbrella policy limits coverage for personal liability to a ‘loss,’ which is an accident resulting in personal injury or property damage. The policy specifically includes defamation in the definition of personal injury. At the same time, the policy does not provide insurance for personal injury when the insured acts with specific intent to cause harm or injury. Wohl’s complaint alleges that the defamation was done ‘knowingly and/or negligently,’ and the factual allegations do not clearly exclude the incident from coverage.