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03 Mar 2019

Known Drug Dealer’s Death Found to be Excluded Under Life Insurance Policy

by Jason Caissie
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Valentyne Estate v. Canada Life Assurance Co., [2018] B.C.J. No. 6984, 2018 BCCA 484

Kevin Valentyne was a known drug dealer with a criminal record and gang affiliations.  On January 7, 2013, Mr. Valentyne was driving downtown with his girlfriend, when he received a call asking him to attend the home of two other drug dealers.  Mr. Valentyne drove to that residence, went into the home, and never came out.

Police investigated and found Mr. Valentyne’s blood in the home, but never located his body.

Mr. Valentyne’s mother applied for benefits under a life insurance policy issued by the Canada Life Assurance Company, who denied benefits on the basis that the death was a “result of or while (he was) committing a criminal offense”.

The evidence presented to the trial judge showed that the police were investigating Mr. Valentyne’s disappearance as a homicide from the outset, and that the police believed that he was probably killed by individuals who were put up to it by rival gang members.  The police believed his murder was tied to his criminal activities.

The trial judge found for the insurer, and Mr. Valentyne’s mother appealed.

While the Court of Appeal found errors in the trial judge’s decision, the Court of Appeal nonetheless found that the result was correct, and dismissed the appeal.

The Court noted that the exclusion for death “as a result of or while (he was) committing a criminal offense” meant that there was an exclusion if death occurred during the actual commission of a crime, or if the death was a result of committing a crime.

The Court of Appeal found that the evidence was clear that Mr. Valentyne had been murdered because of his gang affiliation, drug dealing and overall criminal lifestyle and benefits should be excluded.
You can read Valentyne Estate v. Canada Life Assurance Co., [2018] B.C.J. No. 6984, 2018 BCCA 484 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.