The action of a homeowner (“Gebert”) against his Insurer (“CDI”) for the value of tools stolen during a break-in to Gebert’s seasonal property was dismissed when the court found that the tools were “business tools” within the meaning of an exclusion in the policy

01. September 2004 0

Gebert v. HSBC Canadian Direct Insurance Inc., [2004] B.C.J. No. 1994, British Columbia Provincial Court

Gebert was insured under a Seasonal Homeowners Extension Policy with CDI. This was optional insurance that was taken out with respect to a seasonal dwelling. On November 16, 2002, Gebert suffered a break-in to his seasonal dwelling at which time tools were stolen. Gebert presented a claim to CDI for the value of the tools at just over $6,000. CDI offered to pay Gebert $1,000 on the basis the Policy contained an exclusion limiting coverage for “tools and instruments pertaining to a business to a maximum of $1,000”. Gebert commenced an action against CDI on the basis that he was entitled to the full $6,000 as he had ceased using the tools for business purposes prior to the theft.

The court reviewed various letters written by Gebert to CDI and its representatives indicating that Gebert was unable to continue his work in home improvements until his tools were recovered or replaced. The court further heard testimony from a representative from CDI to the effect that Gebert had advised her that he was using his tools to supplement his income. The court refused to accept Gebert’s assertion that he did not use the tools in his trade and did not make any income from the tools and specifically found that he was accepting paying jobs as and where he could and was using the tools to make income from the job.

In the result, Gebert’s claim was dismissed except for the $1,000 to which he was entitled under the policy.

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