This month’s first case deals with exceptions and exclusions to the uninsured motorist clause in automobile insurance policies.
Bruinsma v. Cresswell et al., 2013 ONCA 111
A driver was involved in a two-car accident while driving his girlfriend’s vehicle, which was insured by CAA. The other vehicle implicated in the accident, owned by the brother of that vehicle’s driver, was uninsured. CAA denied uninsured-automobile coverage to the first driver for his injuries because he had knowingly breached the CAA insurance policy by driving with a suspended driver’s licence, in violation of a statutory condition.
The suspended driver sued the other driver, that driver’s brother, and CAA. In turn, CAA cross claimed against the defendant driver and the brother, all the while arguing that the plaintiff’s admitted breach of the policy precluded his uninsured automobile coverage claim. The Minister of Finance (administrator of the Motor Vehicle Accident Claim Fund, the government-run insurer of last resort) cross claimed against CAA on the defendant’s behalf, seeking a declaration that the plaintiff was entitled to coverage despite his breach of the CAA policy.
CAA applied for summary judgment dismissing the uninsured automobile coverage claim and the Minister’s cross claim. The motions judge denied summary judgment, deciding that the plaintiff was covered by the CAA policy. CAA appealed.
The Court of Appeal held that pursuant to subsection 234(3) of the Ontario Insurance Act (equivalent to subsection 231(1) of New Brunswick’s Insurance Act), the statutory conditions relied on by CAA to deny coverage did not apply to uninsured automobile coverage unless otherwise provided in the contract. The contract at issue, namely the Ontario Standard Owner’s Policy , did not otherwise provide that those statutory conditions applied. Accordingly, CAA could not rely on them to deny coverage to the plaintiff.
The Court of Appeal dismissed CAA’s appeal.