Bonn v Echelon Insurance 2021 NSSM 2 (Small Claims)
On March 21, 2017, the insured was offered gas money from an acquaintance if the insured agreed to drive the acquaintance from Dartmouth, Nova Scotia to his home in North Preston. At the end of that ride, the acquaintance stole the insured’s vehicle at gunpoint. The insured made a claim to the insurer which was denied on the basis that the insured had voided the policy by transporting passengers for compensation.
The evidence was that this was not the first time that the insured and the acquaintance had made such an arrangement. From time to time the insured would drive the acquaintance around town and on one occasion, the insured even drove the acquaintance from Halifax to Truro for the evening. Sometimes the acquaintance would give the insured cash and other times the acquaintance would enter the gas station and pay for the gas himself, but the insured never asked for any money.
The policy excluded losses if the insured was operating a “taxicab, omnibus, livery, jitney or sightseeing conveyance” or if the insured was “carrying passengers for compensation or hire”. The adjudicator decided that the insured did not meet the definition in the exclusion and that exclusion requires a “commercial or business-like” use of the vehicle. The conduct of the insured fell within the exception to the exclusion allowing “the occasional and infrequent use by the insured of his automobile for the carriage of another person who shares the cost of the trip”.