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Cases in which losses were held to be accidents

Corrosion of ships hull by sulphur was an accident
In Cansulex Ltd. v. Reed Stenhouse Ltd. 1986 CanLII 898 (B.C.S.C.) the insured loaded a shipment of sulphur onto a ship for transport and the condition of the sulphur caused corrosion of the ship’s hull.  Relying on Walkem Machinery the court held that the damage to the ship was an accident. 
 
Damage to boiler pipes by cleaning crew was an accident
In B.C. Master Blasters Inc. v. Aviva, 2006 BCSC 1488 employees of the insured inadvertently damaged pipes in a recovery boiler while working on it. The court said the following regarding the meaning of “accident”:
 
[P]roperty damage will generally be found to be “accidental” where the person causing the damage does not intend to cause it.  Of course, a person is normally presumed to intend the natural and probable consequences of his or her acts, and this presumption may, in the absence of rebutting evidence, serve to show that property damage is not accidental.
(B.C. Master Blasters Inc. v. Aviva, 2006 BCSC 1488 at para. 25).
 
Because the court found in that case that the workers did not intend the harm, the loss was accidental:
In the case at bar, I cannot find the damage to be other than accidental.  While the use of a rivet buster on the smelt was risky and unwise, it is apparent that the workers believed that they could remove the smelt without damaging the pipes.  They had no intention of doing damage to the pipes, and the evidence satisfies me that they believed that with sufficient care, they would be able to avoid such damage.  I have no doubt that they would not have proceeded to use the rivet buster if they had thought that they would, in the process, puncture a pipe.  I find that the damage was accidental and therefore the result of an "occurrence" for the purposes of the policy.
(B.C. Master Blasters Inc. v. Aviva, 2006 BCSC 1488 at para. 26).
 
Defective construction
In F.W. Hearn/Actes - A Joint Venture Ltd. v. Commonwealth Insurance Co., 2000 BCSC 764 alleged deficiencies in construction of UBC Thunderbird Housing - Phase 2 were held to be an “occurrence” under the wrap-up liability policy held by a contractor:
 
[I]t is my view that provided the court is required to construe the coverage provisions broadly and considering the definitions of “accident”, “occurrence”, “property liability” and the words of Bauman J. in Axa Pacific Insurance Company, supra, the petitioner has met the first part of the test and has established that the claims are within the scope of the Policy.
(F.W. Hearn/Actes — A Joint Venture Ltd. v. Commonwealth Insurance Co., 2000 BCSC 764 at para. 31).
 

 

 
This book was written by Michael Dew, a Vancouver lawyer who practices civil litigation, including representing persons who have been denied coverage under property insurance policies, or liability insurance policies. If you have been denied insurance coverage and require assistance with making a claim against your insurer call Michael at 604 895 3160.