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03 Nov 2020

Driving faster than 200 kmph does not trigger “race” or “speed test” exclusions in motor vehicle ins

by Andrew Moss
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Vyas v. Brown, 2020 ONSC 4916

On October 11, 2015 at about 1:30 am, Jonathan Brown was driving his SUV near Vaughan, Ontario.  Mr. Brown was driving on a highway at a speed of between 200 and 215 kilometres per hour.  Mr. Brown collided with the rear-end of the Plaintiffs’ vehicle.  There were four people in the Plaintiffs’ vehicle; three were injured and one was killed.  Mr. Brown was charged by police and pled guilty to dangerous driving causing death.The Plaintiffs brought an action against Mr. Brown for damages.  Mr. Brown’s motor vehicle insurer, Allstate, moved for a declaration that Mr. Brown was not covered by the policy at the time of the accident. Allstate argued that Mr. Brown was excluded from coverage pursuant to policy prohibitions against using an automobile for a “race” or “speed test”.

The Ontario Superior Court of Justice dismissed Allstate’s motion.  The Court  found Mr. Brown’s conduct did not constitute either a race or a speed test.   Excessive speed alone is not sufficient to constitute a race or speed test.  The Court must look at other factors, such as whether the driver was engaged in a contest with other drivers, and whether the driver intended to test the speed of the car.  Mr. Brown was trying to get home much faster than he should have, but was not racing or testing the speed of his vehicle.