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Vacancy exclusion revisited to determine when premise is considered “occupied”

Gregson (Estate) v CAA Insurance, 2021 ONSC 3041

Read time: 2 minutes (approx.)

Written by: Weston McArthur (Student-At-Law)


In March of 2017, Agnes Gregson’s house suffered water damage from cracked pipes. In 2016, a social worker determined that Ms. Gregson, who was elderly, was unable to look after herself and she was placed in a retirement home. No one lived in the home after she moved out. Ms. Gregson passed away in September 2019.

Ms. Gregson’s Estate (the Plaintiff) sought coverage for water damage to the property. The house was insured by CAA Insurance Company (the Defendant).

The Plaintiff’s insurance policy had an exclusion that mandated that the Defendant would not pay out claims “for unintended risk due to damages to property that is vacant or has become vacant after the issuance of the policy”. The vacancy period was defined in the policy as being 30 consecutive days.

Evidence showed that while the Plaintiff lived in the retirement home, her lawyer attended at the property every few weeks to maintain it and make sure it was heated. However, the court found that the Plaintiff had no real plans to return to residing in her home, no matter how badly she may have wanted to.

The court had to determine whether the vacancy exclusion barred coverage in this case. Ultimately, the court ruled that it did. The court explained that the property owner’s obvious inability to ever be able to return to living in the home was the decisive factor when deeming this property to be vacant.



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