Many owners’ insurance policies embrace personal liability coverage. This means that if the policyholder is sued for causing bodily injury or property injury to somebody, the insurance company will pay to defend the lawsuit, and can pay out any damages owing in the tip.
Insurance Policies Limit Personal Liability Coverage
Understandably, insurance policies typically limit personal liability coverage to cases involving unintentional injury or property injury; a policyholder cannot depend on an insurance company if they caused damage intentionally. However, the fine print of a policy might conjointly limit coverage in certain cases if negligence or inaction caused an injury. Such limits will become profoundly important, notably for policyholders that have minors in their care.
In Unifund Assurance Company v. D.E. (2015 ONCA 423), the Ontario Court of Appeal considered a case involving a Grade 8 girl who was alleged to possess bullied a classmate, causing the classmate physical and psychological injuries. A lawsuit was brought against the fogeys of the alleged bully, claiming that they’d failed to control their daughter, thereby permitting the bullying to occur.
The suit against the parents was clearly one amongst negligence. The allegation was that that they had failed to forestall the bullying, not that that they had actively done something to encourage or allow the bullying. Nevertheless, the fogeys’ insurance policy excluded personal liability coverage for any claim based mostly on the “failure of someone insured by this policy to require steps to prevent sexual, physical, psychological or emotional abuse, molestation or harassment or corporal punishment.” The insurance company, therefore, refused to hide the lawsuit.
The oldsters went to court to attempt and force their insurance company to provide coverage for the claim. At trial the decide held that the exclusion clause was ambiguous as a result of it failed to specify whether or not it excluded only an intentional failure to stop abuse or a negligent one as well. However, the Ontario Court of Appeal disagreed, holding that the clause was clearly meant to exclude coverage for exactly this sort of claim: a negligent failure to forestall physical, psychological, or emotional harassment.
In D.J.F. v. B.L. (2008 CanLII 39786) the court considered whether or not an insurance policy coated a lawsuit against a babysitter whose failure to supervise a kid resulted in the child being sexually assaulted by another party. The relevant exclusion clause stated that the policy wouldn’t apply to claims against an insured party for failing to prevent abuse or molestation. The court concluded that the complaint, in that case, was apparently excluded by the wording of the policy.
In each of the on top of cases, the courts refused to invalidate the exclusion clause based on technicalities like whether the claim was in contract or tort, or whether or not the alleged negligence was intentional or not. Instead, the courts looked at the plain meaning of the words within the exclusion clause and did not hesitate to uphold them. So, in each case, the insured parties were left on their own to defend the lawsuits that had been brought against them.
While individuals with personal liability coverage would likely expect not to be covered if they cause injury or harm intentionally, they should conjointly be aware that some negligence claims could also be excluded from their policy. This will particularly be the case when a minor underneath the supervision of the insured person is involved. In each of the above situations, the courts applied the exclusion clauses strictly and on the subject of the plain wording of the policies.