In the immediate aftermath of the recent shooting in San
Bernardino, much of the focus, apart from concern for the victims
and their families, was on understanding whether the violence was
in fact an act of terrorism.
As employers and property owners in Canada increasingly turn
their minds to the risks of terrorism in our own country, and
consider how best to address their own potential liability, the
same question could be vital in determining whether an insurance
policy would respond in the event of losses from a terrorist
This is because following 9/11 many Canadian insurers introduced
"terrorism exclusion" provisions in property and
liability policies. Such provisions exclude coverage for loss or
damage caused by "terrorism" or actions taken to respond
to "terrorist" activity – terms that may be but are
not necessarily defined in such policies.
For example, would the San Bernardino shooting, or that which
occurred on Parliament Hill in October 2014, meet the following
definition found in one commercial property policy?
"Terrorism" means an
ideologically motivated unlawful act or acts, including but not
limited to the use of violence or force or threat of violence or
force, committed by or on behalf of any group(s), organization(s)
or government(s) for the purpose of influencing any government
and/or instilling fear in the public or a section of the
In both these cases, it seems likely. In such circumstances,
owners with similar policies could find themselves without the
benefit of coverage for property damage or third party liability
(for example, for not providing adequate security).
To ensure coverage, some property owners have purchased specific
terrorism policies, which are generally available in the Canadian
market and are required by some lenders. But as incidents like
those in Ottawa, Paris and San Bernardino continue to occur, some
are concerned that insurers may become reluctant to underwrite such
policies. Unlike the United States, France, and some other
western countries, which introduced government-backed re-insurance
schemes following 9/11, Canada has no such program in place
The Ontario Court of Appeal confirmed that courts will generally support and uphold decisions of condominium directors because they are better positioned than judges to make decisions pertaining to their buildings.
According to the city bylaws in Calgary, the grading of lots for new buildings must be done properly so that the water never flows toward the new building or any other nearby properties, but away from those buildings.
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