Definition of Insured Under Policy Not Meant to Capture Live-in Romantic Relationship

07. November 2014 0

The insured’s 19-year-old girlfriend was not considered an unnamed insured despite the fact that she was a member of the insured’s household. The definition of insured under the policy, which included any person under 21 “in the care of” the named insured, was never meant to capture a typical live-in romantic relationship.

Ryan v. Canadian Farm Insurance Corp., [2014] M.J. No. 254, August 28, 2014, Manitoba Court of Queen’s Bench, C. Suche J.

The insured’s 19-year-old girlfriend intentionally burnt down his home, which was insured by the defendant insurer. The insurer denied coverage on the grounds that the damage was the result of arson by a person insured under the policy. The insured brought a summary trial motion seeking a declaration that he was entitled to coverage.

The primary issue was whether the girlfriend was an unnamed insured under the policy. The policy’s definition of insured included any person under 21 “in the care of” the persons named in the declarations. The court stated that the primary questions to be answered were whether the girlfriend was in the care of the insured and whether she was a member of the insured’s household.

The court held that the girlfriend was a member of the insured’s household based on the totality of the circumstances. Namely, because there was a romantic relationship, the girlfriend enjoyed unrestricted access to the home, food expenses were shared, the girlfriend was not required to pay for costs associated with the upkeep on the home and she had no other residence at the time.

However, the court found that the girlfriend was not “in the care of” the insured for the purposes of policy. According to the authorities cited by the court, the policy was not meant to capture a typical live-in romantic relationship. The insured was granted the declaration of entitlent to coverage and awarded costs.

This case was originally summarized by Michael J. Robinson and originally edited by David W. Pilley.

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