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31 Mar 2019

Home insurer need not defend homeowner against road rage lawsuit

by Andrew Moss
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Pembridge Insurance Company of Canada v. Chu et al, 2019 ONSC 1359

This case involves a complex motor vehicle accident occurring at a Toronto intersection.  Liability for the accident is disputed.  One of the drivers, Dennis Chu, is alleged to have caused or contributed to the accident by operating his vehicle negligently.  It is also alleged that Mr. Chu exited his vehicle and confronted another driver, threatening the driver and striking their car window.  Mr. Chu denies the allegations.

Mr. Chu’s motor vehicle insurer, Dominion Insurance, accepted it’s duty to defend Mr. Chu (to retain and pay for a lawyer to defend the claim against him).  However, Dominion argued Mr. Chu’s home insurer, Pembridge Insurance Company, should also defend Mr. Chu.  Dominion argued Pembridge should defend Mr. Chu against the allegations related to his conduct after he exited his car.  Pembridge applied to the Court for an order declaring it need not defend Mr. Chu. 

The Ontario Superior Court of Justice granted Pembridge’s order.  Mr. Chu’s homeowner’s policy contained the following exclusion: “You are not insured for claims made against you arising from…  the ownership, use or operation of any motorized vehicles…”  The Court stated Mr. Chu’s actions upon exiting the vehicle arose from the use or operation of his vehicle and were therefore excluded from coverage by the homeowner’s policy.  The homeowner's policy also excluded loss or damage arising from intentional or criminal acts.  The Court did not rule on the issue of whether Dominion Insurance must indemnify Mr. Chu for any losses associated with the alleged assault.

You can read Pembridge Insurance Company of Canada v. Chu et al, 2019 ONSC 1359 in its entirety here.

At Foster & Company, we represent institutions and individuals looking for help understanding insurance coverages and responding to claims. Contact us by phone at 506-462-4000 or reach us online for advice.