Client Update – Protecting the innocent in property insurance: recent amendments to Nova Scotia’s Insurance Act limit “criminal or intentional act” exclusion clauses
Recent amendments to the Nova Scotia Insurance Act are designed “to protect the financial interests of an innocent person when the person’s property is damaged by another person with whom that person shares an insurance policy.”1 The consequences of domestic violence provide the backdrop for these amendments, which came into force on April 18, 2018. The amendments apply to property insurance policies and will primarily impact homeowners’ policies.
As a result of the amendments, policies can no longer exclude coverage for an innocent insured who experiences property loss or damage as a result of their co-insured’s criminal or intentional wrongdoing.
When she announced these amendments to the Insurance Act, Finance Minister Karen Casey noted that they would especially assist women, who are “disproportionately” affected by domestic violence and may suffer property loss or damage at their home as a result.
Nova Scotia is one of several Canadian provinces — including New Brunswick — that have made similar amendments to their insurance legislation.2
Going forward, Nova Scotia property policies will be interpreted in accordance with the new section 13A of the Insurance Act, regardless of how the policy’s exclusion clause governing criminal and intentional acts is worded.
The new section 13A of the Insurance Act provides:
13A (1) Where a contract contains a term or condition excluding coverage for loss or damage to property caused by a criminal or intentional act or omission of an insured or any other person, the exclusion applies only to the claim of a person
(a) whose act or omission caused the loss or damage;
(b) who abetted or colluded in the act or omission;
(i) consented to the act or omission, and
(ii) knew or ought to have known that the act or omission would cause the loss or damage; or
(d) who is not a natural person.
(2) Nothing in subsection (1) allows a person whose property is insured under the contract to recover more than the person’s proportionate interest in the lost or damaged property.
(3) A person whose coverage would be excluded but for subsection (1) shall
(a) co-operate with the insurer in respect of the investigation of the loss, including submitting to an examination under oath if requested by the insurer;
(b) in addition to producing any documents required by the contract, produce for examination, at a reasonable place and time specified by the insurer, all documents in the person’s possession or control that relate to the loss; and
(c) comply with any other requirement prescribed by the regulations.
NOTE: This update provides general information only and is not intended to offer legal advice. If you have specific questions about how the amendments might affect you, please contact the head of our firm-wide Insurance Defence Practice Group, Shelley Wood; Tyana Caplan; or any of Stewart McKelvey’s insurance lawyers in Nova Scotia.
1See the Explanatory Note to Bill 106, as well as “Amendments to the Insurance Act Protect Nova Scotians” (March 29, 2018).
2Donalee Moulton, “New Brunswick amends Insurance Act to better protect victims of domestic violence” in The Lawyer’s Daily (December 27, 2017).
3Insurance Act, RSNS 1989, c 231, as amended by SNS 2018, c 12 (Bill 106). The amendments have not yet been consolidated into the online version of the Insurance Act.
By Kimberly Bungay On April 1, 2023, the Nova Scotia government will proclaim into force Bill 226, which amends the Companies Act (the “Act”) to require companies formed under the Act to create and maintain…Read More
Abuse of sick leave / failure of employee to participate in accommodation process: Vail v. Oromocto (Town), 2022 CanLII 129486
By Chad Sullivan and Kathleen Starke Background A recent decision, Vail v. Oromocto (Town), 2022 CanLII 129486, involved several grievances including an unjust dismissal claim by a firefighter as well as a grievance filed by…Read More
By Stuart Wallace and Kim Walsh On January 1, 2022, the Underused Housing Tax Act (the Act) took effect. The Underused Housing Tax (the UHT) is an annual 1% tax on the value of vacant or…Read More
Parlez-Vous Francais? Recent amendments to Quebec’s Charter of the French Language may impact Atlantic Canadian businesses
By: David F. Slipp and Levi Parsche In May 2022, Bill 96 was adopted by Quebec’s National Assembly, significantly amending the Charter of the French Language (the “Charter“). The amendments create new requirements for using…Read More
The Winds of Change (Part 7): Paying the Piper: New Newfoundland and Labrador Fiscal Framework expects billions in revenues from wind to hydrogen projects
By Dave Randell, G. John Samms, and Stuart Wallace With the deadline for bids on crown lands available for wind energy projects extended to noon on March 23rd, the latest development in our Winds of…Read More
By Kevin Landry and Colton Smith The Retail Payment Activities Regulations have been released in the Canada Gazette Part 1 for comment. Interested persons may make representations concerning the proposed regulations for a period of 45…Read More
By Andrew Burke, Colleen Keyes, Gavin Stuttard and David Slipp With proxy season once again approaching, many public companies are in the midst of preparing their annual disclosure documents and shareholder materials for their annual…Read More
By Brittany Trafford and Sean Corscadden In response to the nationwide labour shortage, the Federal government is allowing select family members of foreign workers to apply for open work permits. This temporary policy came into…Read More
Mark Tector and Ben Currie Effective January 1, 2023, amendments to Ontario’s Employment Standards Act, 2000 (“ESA”) took effect, excluding “business consultants” and “information technology consultants” from the application of the ESA. This is a…Read More
By Perlene Morrison, K.C. and Curtis Doyle Once again, the time has come to review the year that was and to chart the course for the year ahead. For municipalities and planning professionals in Prince…Read More