Plaintiff Held Not To Be In Breach Of Insurance Policy With Respect To Naming Of Principal Operator

In Barsaloux v ICBC, the Plaintiff’s vehicle was stolen, then later recovered in a badly damaged condition. ICBC refused to pay the Plaintiff for the vehicle, claiming that he misrepresented who the principal operator was, and was therefore in breach of his insurance policy. The Court disagreed.

 

[33] … Again, it is common ground that the time to consider the issue of a knowing misrepresentation is the time the insurance was purchased.

 

[34]           In Demontigny v. Insurance Corp. of British Columbia (1989), 16 M.V.R. (2d) 103 at 111 (B.C.S.C.), the Court set out the test this way:

 

Considering first the plaintiff’s representation that she was the “principal operator” of the Jeep the question is:  How must she have perceived the use of the vehicle at the time the insurance was applied for? She testified that she understood principal operator to mean she would be driving it “most of the time”.

 

The Court noted that that was a correct understanding in terms of the statutory definition.

 

[35]           In Lexis Holdings Int’l Ltd. v. Insurance Corporation of British Columbia, 2009 BCSC 344, the Court said at para. 16:

 

[16]      … It is therefore ICBC that bears the burden of proving that Mr. Teap knowingly made a false representation in the matter of the principal operator of the vehicle without belief in its truth, or reckless as to its truth, as all parties have agreed that Lexis Holdings has shown that its loss falls within the policy coverage.

 

[36]           The Court also said that the defendant must show on a balance of probabilities that the insured knew at the time he entered into the contract of insurance that he was, in fact, going to be the principal operator of the vehicle.

 

[48]           Based on all the evidence, I conclude that the plaintiff was, in fact, the principal operator at the time of the accident, and even if he was not, he did not knowingly misrepresent that fact when the insurance was purchased. There was therefore no breach of the insurance policy and the plaintiff is entitled to coverage as well as costs of this action.

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