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Assorted issues regarding interpretation of insurance contracts

The following is an assorted collection of specific contractual interpretation issues related to insurance contracts:
 
Spelling mistakes
 
Obvious spelling mistakes may be overlooked:
 
[T]he apparent misspelling of “contaminant” as “contaminate” in the definition of “pollutants” is an obvious misspelling and can be taken to be corrected by the context.
(Corbould v. BCAA Insurance Corporation, 2010 BCSC 153 at para. 104).
 
Definitions
 
Contractually defined terms should be interpreted according to the definition provided in the contract rather than giving those terms the meaning given in previous cases considering insurance contracts without specific definitions for those terms:
 
Where, as here, however, the policy contains a definition of the word, care should be taken not to substitute a judicial definition for one chosen by the contracting parties.
(Peebles v. The Wawanesa Mutual Insurance Company, 2012 BCSC 590 at para. 64, overturned on other grounds 2013 BCCA 479).
 
The words “in respect of”
 
The words “in respect of” have a wide meaning:
 
The words "in respect of” are, in my opinion, words of the widest possible scope. They import such meanings as "in relation to", "with reference to" or "in connection with". The phrase "in respect of" is probably the widest of any expression intended to convey some connection between two related subject matters.
(Nowegijick v. The Queen, [1983] 1 S.C.R. 29 at 39).
 
Damage v. Injury
 
Unless the contract makes the difference between them clear, the words injury and damage should be treated as synonyms if that will benefit the insured:
 
While the word "damage" may have a narrower meaning than that of "injury", they are quite similar, and as Mr. Justice Macfarlane observed in the Greenwood case, "[t]he terms may, in a certain context, be synonymous".  I believe that when they are considered in the context of an insuring agreement, to which a liberal interpretation should be given, as opposed to the context of an exclusion clause in which any ambiguity will be resolved against the insurer, they are synonymous. 
(Privest Properties Ltd. v. Foundation Company of Canada Ltd. (1991), 57 B.C.L.R. (2d) 88).

 

 
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.