Pushing a motorcycle during a training course is characterized as ordinary use of a vehicle and subject to coverage under a motor vehicle policy

03. August 2010 0

Pushing a motorcycle during a course was found to be an ordinary and well-known use of a motor vehicle.

V-Twin Motorcycle School Ltd. v. Insurance Corp. of British Columbia, [2010] B.C.J. No. 960, January 29, 2010, British Columbia Supreme Court, B. Brown J. (In Chambers)

The issue before the Court was whether one of two parties had a duty to defend the Insured.  The Insured was in the business of providing motorcycle lessons to students.  It had a commercial insurance policy with Lloyd’s Underwriters and third-party liability policies with ICBC covering its motorcycles and other vehicles.

The issue arose out of a claim advanced by a Ms. Robertson against the Insured.  In the statement of claim filed by Ms. Robertson, she alleged that while participating in a motorcycle course that was offered by the Insured, she fell and sustained injury while pushing the motorcycle of another student at the instruction and behest of the Insured.  She alleged that the accident was caused or contributed to by the negligence of the Insured.

ICBC argued that the injury claims did not arise out of the use or operation of a vehicle by the Insured and as a result, it had no duty to defend.  Lloyd’s conceded for the purposes of the petition that the underlying action alleged that bodily injury was caused by an occurrence which would come within the policy’s coverage, but argued that the policy’s automobile exclusions operated to exclude coverage.

The Court found that the essence of Ms. Robertson’s claim against the Insured was that she fell and was injured when pushing a motorcycle as part of a motorcycle training course which was offered by the Insured for remuneration.  The Court concluded that it was an ordinary and well-known use of a motor vehicle to use it for instruction in the operation of a vehicle. In addition, the judge noted that it was not unusual to see a motocyclist pushing a motorcycle and training students on how to push a motorcycle was therefore part of the training provided by the school.  Thus, the Court held that ICBC had a duty to defend and Lloyd’s did not.

This case was digested by Cameron B. Elder and edited by David W. Pilley of Harper Grey LLP.

To stay current with the new case law and emerging legal issues in this area, subscribe here.