In Van Berlo v. Aim Underwriting Limited, 2014 ONSC
4648, Mr. Van Berlo, a potato farmer, crashed his twin
engine Piper Aztec while attempting to take off from the Brantford
Airport with one dead engine. Mr. Van Berlo was aware that his
right engine was not working but believed a one-engine take off
could be accomplished. The aircraft was insured for damage caused
by an accident and Mr. Van Berlo sought coverage under his
The insurer argued that Mr. Van Berlo was reckless to the extent
that his conduct was outside the scope of coverage. The insurer
submitted that in effect, Mr. Van Berlo recognized the dangers
of his actions and deliberately assumed the risk. The insurer
argued that a single-engine take off in dual engine aircraft so
increased the risk that the crash could not be characterized as an
"accident". The insurer submitted that Mr. Van
Berlo's conduct amounted to an occurrence outside the risks
intended to be insured by the policy.
Justice Mitrow reviewed the law and concluded that although Mr.
Van Berlo's attempt at a single-engine take off was foolish and
showed bad judgement, the crash was still an accident because it
was "an unlooked for mishap or occurrence" and an
accident can occur even if the conduct that caused the accident can
be characterized as gross negligence.
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