A Manitoba resident, driving a vehicle insured in Manitoba, does not have to register his motor vehicle in B.C. while visiting the province for more than 30 days if he is in B.C. for touring purposes. The motorist was found to be in B.C. for touring purposes despite the fact that he was working for a relative during his visit.

26. August 2004 0

Thon v. Manitoba Public Insurance Corporation and Insurance Corporation of British Columbia, [2004] B.C.J. No. 2319, Supreme Court of British Columbia

On July 20, 1995, Tammy and Tanya Thon (“the Thons”) were injured in an automobile accident involving a jeep owned by Edward Podollan, and driven by his son, Alex Podollan (“the Podollans”).

The Thons obtained judgment against The Podollans which was satisfied through payment of equal shares by the Manitoba Public Insurance Corporation and the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia (“ICBC”).

A second trial was commenced to determine which of the two insurance companies would bear the burden of payment to the other.

The jeep was purchased in Alberta, and insured in Manitoba by the Manitoba Public Insurance Corporation. At the end of May 1995, Alex Podollan drove the jeep to Vernon, B.C. where he stayed with an aunt. While staying in Vernon he worked as a construction worker for his uncle’s company from June 8 to July 23, 1995, on a part-time basis.

The accident injuring the Thons occurred on July 20, 1995. If the jeep was not properly registered in B.C., section 58 of the Manitoba Public Insurance Corporation Act, C.C.M.S., c.P215, would void the insurance policy, making ICBC liable for the judgment. Section 20 of the Insurance (Motor Vehicle) Act, R.S.B.C. 1996, c.213, requires that motor vehicles be registered within 30 days of entering B.C., unless the operator of the motor vehicle is in the province for and uses the motor vehicle for touring purposes.

The sole issue to be determined by the court was whether Alex Podollan was in British Columbia for touring purposes. The court noted that the Podollans had attempted to comply with the different provincial legislative schemes. Since this was not a case where an insured was attempting to take unfair or an unlawful advantage of different statutory schemes, the court took a broad and purposive approach in interpreting the remedial legislation. Mr. Justice Brooke reviewed the decision of Steyns v. Manitoba Public Insurance Corp., [1997] B.C.J. No. 2119 and Smith v. Manitoba Public Insurance Corp., [1997] M.J. No. 64 and determined that Alex Podollan came to B.C. for touring purposes and only used the jeep for touring purposes. Although he was working for his uncle while in B.C., he was treated as a casual worker, paid minimum wages and worked irregular hours within a family context. In the result, MPIC was ordered to pay the portion of the award which had been initially paid by ICBC.

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