Mental distress damages flow from a breach of the policy.

The Supreme Court of Canada set aside an award of punitive damages of $100,000 against a disability insurer (“Sun Life”), but upheld an award of $20,000 in aggravated damages for mental distress for breach of contract. Fidler worked as a bank receptionist and was covered by a group policy that included long-term disability benefits. At the age of 36, she became ill and was eventually diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia and began receiving long-term disability benefits in January 1991. Under the terms of the policy, Fidler was entitled to continued benefits...

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Manulife’s conduct costs UBC punitive damages.

The British Columbia Court of Appeal upheld an award of $150,000 in punitive damages and $35,000 in aggravated damages against the University of British Columbia (UBC) in Asselstine v. Manulife and UBC, 2005 BCCA 292. The decision sends a strong message to insurers and raises questions about the relationship between employers and third parties hired to administer benefit plans. This case concerned a registered nurse who had been employed by UBC for several years. In March 1997, she was diagnosed as suffering from multiple sclerosis. She took six weeks of sick leave and then returned to...

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Manulife ordered to pay death benefits and 2X costs.

On March 19, 2002, the Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench ordered Manulife to pay benefits under an accidental death policy, and to pay double costs to the plaintiff in McCoy v Manulife, 2002 ABQB 298. The plaintiff’s brother, Ward McCoy, was covered through his employment by a policy of life insurance and accidental death insurance provided by Manufacturers Life Insurance Company. The plaintiff, Keith McCoy, was the beneficiary of the policy. The brother died on the 23rd of June, 1997. He had been drinking over a three-day period. Twelve hours after he stopped drinking he suffered cardiac...

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