Allegations-of-the-Complaint Rule Law and Legal Definition

Allegations of the complaint rule is a principle applicable to Insurance law. Under this rule, an insurer's duty to defend an action against its insured is measured by the allegations in the plaintiff's pleadings regardless of the ultimate outcome of the action. The Court looks at the allegations in the underlying complaint to determine whether the insurer has a duty to defend. An insurer's obligation to defend an action depends on comparison of the policy language with the underlying complaint to determine whether any claims alleged in the complaint are covered by the policy. This is also known as eight corners rule.

Mississippi has adopted the allegations of the complaint rule, sometimes referred to as the eight-corners test, to determine whether an insurer has a duty to defend. According to this rule the court reviews the allegations in the underlying complaint to see whether it states a claim that is within, or arguably within, the scope of the coverage provided by the insurance policy. In so doing, the court compares the words of the complaint with the words of the policy, looking not to the particular legal theories pursued by the plaintiffs, but to the allegedly tortious conduct underlying the suit. If the complaint alleges facts which are arguably within the policy's coverage, a duty to defend arises. [Nationwide Mut. Ins. Co. v. Panther Creek Constr. Co., 2008 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 25746 (S.D. Miss. Mar. 30, 2008)]

Under Mississippi's "allegations of the complaint" rule if the factual allegations of the complaint bring the action within coverage of the policy, the insurer has a duty to defend. [EEOC v. Southern Pub. Co., 894 F.2d 785 (5th Cir. Miss. 1990)]