An Ontario judge recently interpreted a data exclusion in favour of the insureds, ordering the insurer to defend claims arising out of an alleged website security breach. This case reaffirms the principle that exclusions are to be read narrowly, not broadly. Particularly where the relevant policy provisions engage complex issues not yet judicially considered, the court may err on the side of finding for the insured.
In the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, businesses are closing or restricting their operations across Canada. It is clear is that these measures, although necessary to protect public health, are causing lost revenue and increased expenses. This article provides information on business interruption insurance (BII), which is a common type of commercial property insurance. For many insureds, BII is the coverage most likely to respond to losses resulting from restrictions imposed to fight COVID-19.
Some policyholders purchase professional fees coverage as an extension to their insurance policy's general coverage grant to reimburse an insured for the expense of hiring professionals to assist in quantifying a loss and putting a claim together to satisfy an insurer's requirements. In a case concerning a fire at a church, Ontario's Superior Court of Justice addressed who controls the decision of whether such professionals will be retained and have their fees covered by the insurance policy.
The general position that bankruptcy can substantially vary the rights of insureds has often been argued and rejected. A recent Ontario Superior Court of Justice decision has confirmed that an insurer's duty of good faith is not extinguished on the bankruptcy of the insured.
The Ontario Court of Appeal recently held that an insurer which had defended its insured for 10 months, without a reservation of rights, could not rely on a policy exclusion to withdraw its defence. In this decision, the court did not find it necessary to distinguish between waiver and estoppel. As such, insurers and insureds alike should ensure that they appreciate the potential consequences applicable to both waiver and estoppel and govern themselves accordingly.
The Ontario Court of Appeal recently reconfirmed that an insured's duty to cooperate with defence council appointed by its insurer is not subject to a standard of perfection. This case serves as a strong reminder that a breach of the duty to cooperate must be substantial. It shows that, in practice, without real consequences arising from an insured's conduct, there can be no substantial breach of the duty to cooperate.
A recent Alberta Court of Queen's Bench decision demonstrates that policyholders must carefully consider the interplay between an insurance policy and its endorsements. One consideration is the distinction between endorsements that provide standalone coverage and those intended only to modify an existing policy's terms. However, most important is the overarching principle that any limitations of coverage should be clearly stated.
The Ontario Superior Court of Justice recently concluded that insurance policies should be interpreted differently when multiple insurers are involved. This decision runs contrary to the basic rules of contractual interpretation and conflicts with well-established precedent. If followed, it could lead to commercially unreasonable results and erode the benefits of coverage available to insured parties.
An Ontario court recently found that a personal injury claim by a daughter against her mother was covered by homeowner's insurance. While the insurance policy contained an exclusion for claims arising from injury to "any person residing in [the] household", the court concluded that the daughter was a tenant under the policy and therefore the exclusion did not apply. This case serves as a reminder that policyholders' intentions when purchasing insurance can be critically important.