The Court refused to grant an Insurer’s application for declaratory judgment that the exclusion clause in a homeowner’s insurance policy applied because the Insured’s son, who was renting a basement suite from the Insured, was found not to have been residing in the Insured’s household when he injured himself on her property

29. December 2005 0

Aviva Canada Inc. V. Yaehne, [2005] S.J. No. 822, Saskatchewan Court of Queen’s Bench

The Plaintiff Insurer, Aviva Canada Inc. (“Aviva”), sought a declaratory judgment stating that the exclusion clause in the Defendant Darlene Yaehne’s (“Darlene”) insurance policy applied to the claim made against her by her son, Ricky.

Ricky rented a basement suite from the Insured. After suffering damages relating to a slip and fall at the Insured’s house, he commenced an action against her. Darlene was the named Insured in a comprehensive homeowner’s policy which contained an exclusion clause precluding coverage for claims made against her for any bodily injury sustained on her property by a person residing in her household.

The Court had no difficulty in concluding from the evidence that Ricky was residing at his mother’s house at the time of his injury. The focus of the judgment was on an examination of whether Ricky was a resident in her household. The Court observed that the common element in the cases discussing the meaning of the word “household” was the existence of the element of intimacy or community in the relationship. Accordingly, the Court found that Ricky did not reside in his mother’s household at the time that he sustained his injuries, because although he and his mother shared a number of common areas, their relationship could not be characterized as one of intimacy or community in which their daily lives were inextricably bound together. The Insured and Ricky cooked their own meals and ate separately. Ricky paid rent for an area considered to be for his exclusive privacy and use. Finally, Ricky moved into Darlene’s home to facilitate access with his son. This family connection was insufficient to create a household as Ricky and the Insured lacked intimacy and community on a daily or regular basis.

Applying the principle that exclusion clauses should be interpreted narrowly, as well as the rule of contra proferentum, the Court concluded that Ricky was not a resident in the Insured’s household at the time of his injury and the Insurer’s motion was dismissed.

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