Insurer must produce internal manuals in bad faith claim.

On August 12, 2016, the Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench confirmed that in an action for bad faith denial of disability benefits the insurer must produce details of its internal claims handling procedures to the plaintiff. In Alexander v Sun Life Assurance Company of Canada, 2016 ABQB 445, the plaintiff conducted an examination for discovery of a representative of Sun Life who explained that Sun Life makes an online databank of reference material available to its case managers to assist them in performing their job duties. She further explained that the reference material is broken down...

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ICBC loses claim of privilege over surveillance.

On August 2, 2016, a judge of the BC Supreme Court reversed a master’s order as “an error in law” and ordered ICBC to provide an investigative report and video to the plaintiff, Desiree Nadine Oates. In Oates v. Burton, 2016 BCSC 1428, Ms. Oates was injured in a motor vehicle accident and sued for damages. After retaining a lawyer she applied for disability benefits from ICBC, following which ICBC ordered surveillance. In the context of her injury lawsuit, Ms. Oates sought production of the surveillance and the investigator’s report but ICBC refused, arguing that the...

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A court won’t force a plaintiff to give “consent”.

On June 27, 2016, a master of the BC Supreme Court found that it is not appropriate for a Court to order a plaintiff to sign a consent form when attending a court ordered independent medical exam. In Gill v. Wal-Mart Canada Corporation, 2016 BCSC 1176, the plaintiff sued the defendant for personal injuries after a slip and fall incident.  In the course of the lawsuit the plaintiff agreed to be examined by a physician of the defendant’s choosing but refused to sign a consent form the physician required.  The defendant asked the Court to order the plaintiff to sign the form; the application...

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Insurer may be a party to a tort claim.

On June 22, 2016, a judge of the BC Supreme Court held that a plaintiff’s insurer may be added as a party to a tort action where the tortfeasor’s insurance limits will likely be insufficient, and the plaintiff intends to seek compensation under its insurer’s “underinsured” liability coverage. The case, MacPherson v. White, 2016 BCSC 1151, arose out of a head-on collision between two motor vehicles; one driven by the plaintiff Joseph MacPherson, the other was driven by the defendant, Dallas White. The plaintiff suffered serious injuries in the accident, and the defendant’s...

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Why an insurer may ignore a treating doctor’s opinion.

Many people, as well as their doctors, believe that when they file a claim for  disability benefits their disability insurance company has to accept the medical professional’s opinion that they are disabled.  Common sense suggests this is a reasonable assumption – but it couldn’t be further from the truth.  Why? Because many insurers simply do not want to pay disability claims and, when armed with discretionary language in the policy, the insurer has the final say as to who is “disabled”, not the treating doctor. Making matters worse is the fact that the insurance company is...

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