New Brunswick seeks amendment to Insurance Act to protect innocent co-insured’s

Published: December 11, 2017

Updated: July 24, 2018

Author: Luke Jones

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Under current legislation in New Brunswick, home insurance policies do not count claims payouts for loss or damage caused by an intentional or criminal act by a coinsured on a policy. However, the province has tabled amendments to the Insurance Act last week in an effort to protect innocent co-insured customers if another coinsured commits the offence.

The payout exclusion currently in place includes coinsured’s in case of divorce, separation, domestic violence, a deliberate fire caused by a spouse, or property damage.

Proposed amendment to the Insurance Act have been created as a collaboration between New Brunswick’s Office of the Consumer Advocate for Insurance, the Financial and Consumer Services Commission and the Women’s Equality Branch. The amendments would stop insurance companies from using the exclusions to deny coverage.

“Domestic abuse victims are particularly vulnerable when their partner damages or destroys the home,” New Brunswick’s Finance Minister Cathy Rogers said in a government news release. “Increasing access to services and supports for women victims of intimate partner violence is an area of focus in the New Brunswick Family Plan report on advancing women’s equality. This is just one of the changes we are making to address the barriers people face when trying to stay safe when there has been abuse in a relationship.”

Michèle Pelletier, the province’s consumer advocate for insurance, says it is good news that the government is seeking the amendments. She says it will stop insurance providers from using the exclusion clause. Other provinces have made similar changes already, Pelletier adds.

Those provinces are British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, and Quebec. The Insurance Bureau of Canada says those provinces use a system where the payout is determined by the innocent’s coinsured’s proportional interest.

“A gap in insurance protection for some Canadians has recently been highlighted through media reports,” IBC president and CEO Don Forgeron said in a statement addressing the issue in May.