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Complementary insurance policies: Auto insurer did not have standing to bring an application against a personal insurer, with respect to a social event & motor vehicle accident claim

February 9, 2021

Auto insurer does not have standing to bring an application for a declaration that the personal insurer defend social event allegations in a motor vehicle accident claim.

Insurance law – Automobile insurance – Third parties – Duty to defend – Unjust enrichment

Royal & Sun Alliance Insurance Co. of Canada v. Wawanesa Mutual Insurance Co., [2020] A.J. No. 1259, 2020 ABQB 720, Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench, November 20, 2020, B. Summers J. (In Chambers)

Royal & Sun Alliance Insurance Company of Canada (“RSA”) unsuccessfully applied for a declaration that Wawanesa had a duty to defend social event allegations made against an insured who had complementary policies from both insurance companies.

In the underlying litigation, a plaintiff suffered injuries when his ATV collided with a truck driven by the impaired defendant at the defendant’s parents’ acreage, during a social event at the acreage. The defendant was under the age of 21 and residing with his parents on the acreage at the time of the accident.

The RSA policy was issued to the defendant’s parents as a standard auto policy, providing third party liability coverage with respect to the truck.

The Wawanesa policy was issued to the defendant’s parents as a personal policy covering liability for compensatory damages because of unintentional bodily injury arising out of actions of the insureds or their use of the acreage.

The Court found that RSA did not have standing to bring the application as it was not a party to the contract between the defendant and Wawanesa. RSA unsuccessfully argued it had standing as a result of the equitable doctrine of unjust enrichment. However, RSA had not indemnified the defendant with respect to the social event allegations, and the defendant therefore must be the one to bring an application to compel Wawanesa to defend him in respect of the social event allegations.

This case was digested by Erika L. Decker, and first published in the LexisNexis® Harper Grey Insurance Law Netletter and the Harper Grey Insurance Law Newsletter. If you would like to discuss this case further, please contact Erika L. Decker at [email protected].

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Important Notice: The information contained in this Article is intended for general information purposes only and does not create a lawyer-client relationship. It is not intended as legal advice from Harper Grey LLP or the individual author(s), nor intended as a substitute for legal advice on any specific subject matter. Detailed legal counsel should be sought prior to undertaking any legal matter. The information contained in this Article is current to the last update and may change. Last Update: February 9, 2021.

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