When a policy lapses, a new agreement must be made.

On January 11, 2013, the  BC Court of Appeal decided in Khosah v. Canada Life Assurance Co. that where coverage under an original policy lapses in accordance with its own terms, the principles of contract formation, rather than contractual interpretation, may apply in determining whether a new policy has come into existence. The issue on appeal was whether the beneficiary’s deceased husband, the insured, obtained temporary insurance coverage from the insurer while the insurer processed the insured’s application for reinstatement of a term life insurance policy that had lapsed due...

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Insurer has 6 years to sue insured.

On November 28, 2012, in Sun Life Assurance Co. of Canada v. Catalano, [2012] B.C.J. No. 2566,British Columbia Supreme Court dismissed an application by an insured under a long term disability policy (“Catalano”) to dismiss an action by the disability insurer (“Sun Life”) seeking to recover insurance monies under a reimbursement agreement. The Court held that the applicable limitation period was six years. Catalano worked for Teck Cominco Metals Ltd. until February 2003. He became disabled and was provided long term disability benefits under a group policy...

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ICBC’s expert given “very little weight” for failure to examine.

The failure of a doctor to examine a plaintiff is not, in and of itself, a barrier to the physician from providing opinion evidence to the BC Supreme Court. However, often little weight is attached to a doctor’s opinion in such circumstances. This was demonstrated in Rizzotti v. Doe, 2012 BCSC 1330,  the plaintiff suffered psychological injuries in a serious collision in which the offending motorist died. At trial the plaintiff tendered expert evidence addressing the extent of her injuries. The defendant tendered a report from a psychiatrist, Dr. Levin, who disagreed with the plaintiff’s...

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Insurer pays $100,000 punitive damages for alleging fraud.

On June 22, 2012, the Ontario Superior Court of Justice awarded $100,000 in punitive damages against an insurer for alleging fraud against its insured in respect of a fire loss in circumstances which the Court described as a “high-stakes litigation strategy”. Brandiferri v. Wawanesa Mutual Insurance Co. involved a fire loss at the insureds’ home. The garage and its contents were destroyed and smoke penetrated the house. In one action the insureds claimed that Strone Construction was liable for the deficient remedial work and in another action the insureds claimed that their...

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Death benefits denied due to substance abuse.

On April 26, 2012, the New Brunswick Court of Queen’s Bench dismissed an application by a widow for an order that a group creditor insurer pay her pursuant to a policy of insurance following her husband’s death. In Laird v. First Canadian Insurance Corp., the applicant, Mrs. Laird, and her husband, Mr. Laird, purchased group credit insurance when they purchased a new vehicle. On the application for insurance Mr. Laird answered “yes” to a question about whether he suffered from “any illness/disorder of the heart, brain, lungs, kidney, liver, or pancreas (diabetes).” No follow-up medical...

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$573,000 punitive damages for BC employee.

In early 2012, a jury in Prince George, B.C. awarded a plaintiff approximately $809,000 in damages over a wrongful dismissal. Included in that amount is the largest punitive damages award in an employment law case in Canadian history. Larry Higginson worked at a sawmill in Burns Lake, B.C., for 34 years until October 2009, when he was fired without severance pay. Hampton Lumber Mills Inc., based in Portland, Ore., had acquired the sawmill from Babine Forest Products Inc. in November 2006. Higginson sued for wrongful dismissal, claiming he was terminated as an attempt to avoid paying...

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