This is an Alberta automobile insurer’s appeal of a BC Supreme Court ruling on a petition. At issue was an accident in BC in which an Alberta resident was a passenger. The passenger required underinsured motorist protection (UMP) coverage to satisfy her claim. Both the driver’s insurer, ICBC, and the passenger’s own Alberta insurer, Royal Sun & Alliance, provided UMP coverage, but both policies purported to provide excess coverage only. On the petition both pointed to the other insurer as the primary payor. The lower Court held that Royal was the primary insurer, and the Appeal Court upheld the finding that Royal was precluded by BC legislation from enforcing terms different from those mandated under BC’s statutory scheme.

17. December 2004 0

Park v. Insurance Corp. of British Columbia, [2004] B.C.J. No. 2632, British Columbia Court of Appeal

An Alberta resident was a passenger in an automobile accident in BC. Royal was the insured’s provider under an Alberta policy. ICBC was the insurer of the vehicle in which she was a passenger at the time of the accident. Both insurers provided UMP coverage, but both were subject to a priority provision. ICBC’s UMP provision made any extraprovincial coverage the primary insurer. Royal’s UMP coverage made the contract insuring the automobile in which the insured was an occupant the primary coverage. On a petition to the BC Court, the Court interpreted BC regulations to preclude Royal from raising any defence based on a provision of its policy that could not be enforced by ICBC because of its role in the compulsory BC automobile insurance scheme. The Court held that the regulations provided that no extraprovincial insurer can advance a defence that would not have been available if the policy was issued in BC, and found that the Royal priority provision was not consistent with the BC scheme. The Appeal Court reviewed the authorities and evolution of the BC legislation, particularly cases in which interjurisdictional arrangements worked against ICBC. The Appeal Court held that in exchange for the opportunity to offer automobile insurance in British Columbia, Royal accepted having to forego any defence not available in the universal compulsory BC scheme. The appeal was dismissed.

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