Towne Realty, Inc. v. Zurich Ins. Co

In Towne Realty, Inc. v. Zurich Ins. Co., 201 Wis. 2d 260, 267, 548 N.W.2d 64 (1996), the Court stated, as a matter of law, that "a tender of defense occurs once an insurer has been put on notice of a claim against the insured." The Zurich court stated: "If it is unclear or ambiguous whether the insured wishes the insurer to defend the suit, it becomes the responsibility of the insurer to communicate with the insured before the insurer unilaterally forgoes the defense. This places the "burden of ensuring clear communication between the insurer and insured on the insurer, who is better positioned, in terms of expertise and resources, to manage such a task." Despite Zurich's protestations, this holding should not create an onerous duty for insurers: a simple letter requesting clarification of the insured's position should suffice." (Id. at 269.)