Standard form motor vehicle insurance policy must have same meaning for all claimants

Insurance - Automobile insurance - Extent of risk

Applicant was resident of Ontario living in British Columbia. While passenger on all-terrain vehicle owned and driven by B.C. resident on public trail, applicant fell off and suffered severe brain injury. Applicant, who was named insured under Ontario automobile policy, was denied coverage for statutory accident benefits (SABs) in Ontario. Financial Services Commission of Ontario arbitrator upheld denial of benefits. Applicant's appeal to director's delegate and application for judicial review were dismissed. Applicant appealed. Appeal allowed. Insurer was obliged to pay SABs because vehicle was automobile that was involved in accident within meaning of relevant SABs regulations. At issue was proper interpretation and application of insurance contract provisions and Ontario statutes that governed SABs entitlement. Off-road vehicle was automobile within extended definition in s. 224(1) of Insurance Act. Ontario law governed and provisions that dictated result for Ontario dictated same result for incidents taking place outside Ontario that were covered under automobile insurance policy. Arbitrator and director's delegate proceeded on legal misapprehension that lex loci delicti should be applied to contact and statutory interpretation issue involving Ontario contract and Ontario legislation where that legislation specifically directs that Ontario law is to apply (Insurance Act s. 123). Provisions of statutes in question and standard form motor vehicle insurance policy must have same meaning for all claimants.

Benson v. Belair Insurance Company Inc. (2019), 2019 CarswellOnt 17313, 2019 ONCA 840, K. Feldman J.A., J.C. MacPherson J.A., and Janet Simmons J.A. (Ont. C.A.); reversed (2018), 2018 CarswellOnt 5476, 2018 ONSC 2297, Morawetz R.S.J., Thorburn J., and Tzimas J. (Ont. Div. Ct.). (Ont. C.A.); affirmed (2019), 2019 CarswellOnt 5729, 2019 ONSC 1415, Casullo J. (Ont. S.C.J.).

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