The Ontario Court of Appeal (ONCA) has released a decision that reiterates a key guiding principle in proceedings brought to enforce an insurer's duty to defend: the court must carefully review the underlying pleading and focus on the true nature of the claim, not simply the words used by the plaintiff in the underlying claim, to determine whether any of the claims could potentially be covered by the policy. The ONCA overturned a lower court judge who the court stated had failed to properly conduct this analysis.
The Ontario Insurance Act requires that every property insurance contract in the province gives the parties a right to require that disagreements about the amount of an insured loss be resolved via an appraisal process. However, the principles applicable to appraisals are often not well understood. A recent case seems to be the latest example of this and is necessary reading for any insured thinking about invoking an appraisal.
The Alberta Court of Appeal has ordered an insurer to defend claims made against its insured's cold storage business, which was sued when its warehouse thawed and damaged its customer's food products. This case illustrates that it is important to always review a policy's specific words to determine what it covers rather than rely on received wisdom about what a policy typically covers.
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.