An insured who is injured in a motor vehicle accident while driving with a prohibited blood alcohol level may be entitled to first party automobile benefits.

A motion for summary judgment dismissing the Plaintiff’s claim for damages pursuant to uninsured motorist coverage. The defendant’s motion was dismissed.

Matt v. Crawford, [2010] O.J. No. 3622, August 10, 2010, Ontario Superior Court of Justice, A. Mullins J.

The plaintiff was allegedly injured in a collision with an uninsured driver. The plaintiff admitted that he was not authorized in law to operate his vehicle because of his blood alcohol concentration. The plaintiff claimed for the damages under his policy of automobile insurance pursuant to the uninsured motorist coverage and his claim was denied. The question considered by the Court was whether the plaintiff, being unauthorized to operate the vehicle by reason of having a blood alcohol concentration, was disentitled to uninsured motorist coverage under the Ontario Standard Automobile Policy (“OAP”). The plaintiff relied upon s. 234(3) of the Act, which provided that the statutory conditions referred to in subsection 1 did not apply to the insurance required by s. 265.

The Court noted that there are established principles governing the interpretation of insurance contracts.  Coverage provisions are to be interpreted broadly, and exclusions are to be interpreted narrowly.  There are also established principles governing the interpretation of legislation.  Regulations are subordinate to statutes.

The Defendant’s motion was dismissed. The Court was not satisfied the OAP "provided otherwise" within the meaning of s. 234(3) of the Insurance Act.  There is no clear wording in the regulations which operated to displace the wording of the sections which provided coverage.  The terms, conditions, provisions, exclusions and limits prescribed by the regulations, to which s. 265 was expressed to be subject, could not readily and clearly be found to preclude access to uninsured coverage, notwithstanding a breach of Statutory Condition 4.1.  Statutory Condition 1.4 said only that claims might be denied.

This case was digested by Kim Yee and edited by David W. Pilley of Harper Grey LLP.

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Arizona Auto Insurance - November 24, 2010 8:40 AM

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