No Defense for Self-Defense: Determining Whether Courts Should Order Insurers To Represent Insureds Who Have Acted in Self-Defense

October 1, 2013

The right to defend oneself has traditionally been heavily protected by courts in all scenarios. However, the refuge that an act of self–defense provides becomes muddled in the context of an insurance agreement. State courts are split on whether an insured who claims to have acted in self–defense is entitled to legal representation and compensation from the insurer in light of an insurance contract containing an intentional injury exclusion clause. This clause is used virtually uniformly throughout the insurance industry and it has caused courts to ponder if an act of selfdefense fits within the language of such a clause, and, consequently, if an act of self–defense should be excluded from insurance coverage. This Note analyzes both the textual and public policy arguments that are set forth by the proponents of each side of this dispute as well as the lines of reasoning courts use in justifying their divergent rulings. Taking this analysis into consideration, this Note ultimately concludes that acts of self–defense should be excluded from coverage when traditional policy terms are used.

October 2013

No. 1