In this declaratory judgment action, Alfa Laval seeks insurance coverage under policies issued by several companies, including Travelers, for underlying asbestos bodily injury claims brought against Alfa Laval and its predecessor in name, DeLaval, as well as Alfa Laval's historical competitor, a company named Sharples, Inc. (the underlying claims), which assets Alfa Laval acquired in 1988.
The duty to defend is broader than the duty to indemnify, requiring each insurer to defend if there is an asserted occurrence covered by its policy; the insured should not be denied initial recourse to a carrier merely because another carrier may also be responsible (see Continental Cas. Co. v Rapid-American Corp., 80 N.Y.2d 640, 655 ). Although the pro rata sharing of defense costs may be ordered when more than one policy is triggered by a claim, the court, in the interest of judicial economy, did not err in declining to order such sharing at this time, with the understanding that Travelers, Alfa Laval's longest-standing insurer, may later obtain contribution from other insurers on applicable policies (id. at 655-656).
However, OneBeacon is correct that the court's ruling was inconsistent to the extent that both Travelers and OneBeacon cannot viably provide Alfa Laval's complete defense if both their policies are implicated by the same underlying action. In that case, Travelers, as the long-standing insurer, should provide a complete defense, and OneBeacon may eventually be required to contribute to both defense costs and indemnification on a pro rata basis (id. at 655).