Canada: Insurance Coverage For Negligent Parenting?

A new case has just come down that should be of interest where claims are made by infants or others under a disability and there is a third party claim against a family member for their alleged negligence relating to the incident, usually inadequate supervision.

Homeowner's policies invariably contain an exclusion clause that is intended by the insurer to prevent such claims from falling within coverage for the allegedly negligent family member.  In the recent decision of Gill v Ivanhoe Cambridge, 2016 BCSC 252, Mr. Justice Voith refused to give effect to such an exclusion and has granted coverage to a father whose two year old son was injured at Metrotown when he found his way through a gap in the glass adjacent to an escalator, resulting in a fall to the level below and a significant injury.  He held that the intention of the exclusion was to prevent collusive claims among family members and that the claim at issue was not collusive.

Justice Voith examined the specific wording of the clause, found an ambiguity as to whether it was intended to apply to third party claims or only to direct claims by one family member against another, and resolved that ambiguity in favour of the insured father. Various entities were sued by the son through his litigation guardian, with those defendants making third party claims against the father based on negligent supervision.  With coverage now available to the father, one can see how that action may be more easily resolved with an insurer standing behind the father, as compared to the advancement of a third party claim where the father has no insurance coverage. The defendants would likely be forced to take the matter to judgment and then seek to enforce against the father (which may or may not bear results, depending on financial circumstances). This case supports a decision to issue third party proceedings where there may be negligence on the part of a plaintiff's family member and it also makes clear that the third partying-defendant should encourage the third party family member to report the claim to their homeowner's insurer and to list and disclose policy documents so that a remedy to enforce judgment against the insurer under section 25 of the Insurance Act can be pursued if necessary.

It is important to note that this decision turns on the specific wording of the exclusion clause in question and that different insurers will have different wordings for these exclusions. Some wordings may be found to be unambiguous and therefore would not be vulnerable to the precedential value of this decision.

The following excerpts from the decision set out the specific policy terms at issue and the key aspects of Justice Voith's reasoning:

[9]  The Policy includes comprehensive personal liability coverage and contains policy limits of $1 million. In particular, the Policy includes the following relevant coverage and exclusion provisions:

Section II – Comprehensive Personal Liability

1.   Description of Coverages

. . .

1)   PERSONAL LIABILITY: To pay as compensatory damages on behalf of the Insured all sums which the Insured shall become obligated to pay by reason of the liability imposed by law upon the Insured arising out of Bodily Injury or Property Damage anywhere in the world.

. . .

2.   Exclusions

a)   PERSONAL LIABILITY: There is no coverage in this Section for claims arising from

. . .

5)   Bodily injury to the Insured or to any person residing in the Insured's household other than a Residence Employee, [the "Family Exclusion"]

[10]  The Policy defines "Insured" to include the following:

The unqualified word Insured within the meaning of this Insurance is defined as:

a) the Named Insured;

b) if residents of the household, the spouse, the relatives of either, and any other person under the age of twenty-one (21) in the care, custody or control of the Insured;


The Purpose of the Family Exclusion

[53]  In instances where a court is faced with ambiguity about the meaning or ambit of an exclusion, the court can and will seek to ascertain the purpose or object of that exclusion and endeavour to interpret the wording of the provision in a manner that is consistent with its object; see Appel (Guardian ad litem of) v. Dominion of Canada General Insurance Co. (1997), 39 B.C.L.R. (3d) 113 at para. 44 (C.A.), relying on Wawanesa Mutual Insurance Company v. Bell, [1957] S.C.R. 581 at 583.

[54]  In this case, the purpose of the Family Exclusion is clear. That purpose has been considered on numerous occasions.

[55]  Many insurance policies that provide personal liability coverage contain an exclusion for claims between members of the insured's household. The wording of these exclusions is not, as has been seen, uniform, but the unifying theme or element is language that excludes claims that arise among or between members of the same household. Various courts have commented on the purpose or policy reason for such exclusions.

[56]  In Appel, the Court of Appeal dealt with an exclusion which stated:

This policy does not apply to:

under Coverage E(1)

Personal Liability

1.   Bodily injury to you, or any person residing in your household, other than residence employees.

[57]  The Court, in addressing the purpose of the exclusion, said:

[46]  ... the purpose of the exclusion clause in this Policy is to prevent named insured and family members "residing in the household" from making claims against each other. The perceived need for such protection may be the potential for collusive claims being advanced by such individuals.

[58]  Other courts have commented on the rationale for the Family Exclusion to similar effect. In Wawanesa Mutual Insurance Co. v. Hewson, 2004 SKCA 112 the Saskatchewan Court of Appeal examined an exclusion for "claims brought against you for: ... bodily injury to you or to any person in your household other than an employee" and said:

[9]  Liability insurance is usually intended to provide indemnity against claims made by third parties, that is, persons who are not parties to, or have no interest in, the contract of insurance. Exclusion clauses, such as Exclusion (3) in this case, are intended to prevent collusive claims by members of the insured's family and members of his household: Hilliker Liability Insurance Law in Canada (3d ed.) (Toronto: Butterworths, 1996) at pp. 254-57, Appel (Public Trustee of) v. Dominion of Canada General Insurance Co., [1998] 1 W.W.R. 592 (B.C.C.A.) at paras. 45 and 46, and Whirlpool Corp. v. Ziebert, 539 N.W. 2d 883 (U.S. Wis. S.C. 1995.)

[59]  In Bawden, the Court referred to, and relied on, the foregoing passage from Wawanesa; and concluded:

[82]  For all of the reasons set out above, Wawanesa has not met the onus of proving that the exclusion clause here unequivocally restricts the extent and scope of the coverage provided in the coverage provision in the event of an indirect claim for contribution and indemnity against David and Elizabeth.
[Emphasis in original.]

[60]  The Ontario Court of Appeal, in affirming the decision in Bawden, endorsed the purpose of the exclusion as framed by the motions judge at para. 10 of the judgment.

[61]  Economical seeks to extend the Family Exclusion to circumstances that have nothing to do with the intended object of such clauses. There is no prospect, in the present circumstances, of a "collusive claim" being raised by either Mr. Gill or his son. The claim that is being advanced against Mr. Gill is not a claim that was brought by his family or any member of his household.

[62]  The practical consequence of the Family Exclusion advanced by Economical would mean that if Mr. Gill, on the day his son was injured, was caring for both his son and his brother's son, and both boys fell through the gap in the glass railing, the Policy would provide him with coverage against third party claims for failing to supervise his nephew, but not for an identical claim for failing to supervise his son.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

In association with
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Check to state you have read and
agree to our Terms and Conditions

Terms & Conditions and Privacy Statement (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd and as a user you are granted a non-exclusive, revocable license to access the Website under its terms and conditions of use. Your use of the Website constitutes your agreement to the following terms and conditions of use. Mondaq Ltd may terminate your use of the Website if you are in breach of these terms and conditions or if Mondaq Ltd decides to terminate your license of use for whatever reason.

Use of

You may use the Website but are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the content and articles available (the Content). You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these terms & conditions or with the prior written consent of Mondaq Ltd. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information about’s content, users or contributors in order to offer them any services or products which compete directly or indirectly with Mondaq Ltd’s services and products.


Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the documents and related graphics published on this server for any purpose. All such documents and related graphics are provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers hereby disclaim all warranties and conditions with regard to this information, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. In no event shall Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use or performance of information available from this server.

The documents and related graphics published on this server could include technical inaccuracies or typographical errors. Changes are periodically added to the information herein. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers may make improvements and/or changes in the product(s) and/or the program(s) described herein at any time.


Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.

Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.

If you do not want us to provide your name and email address you may opt out by clicking here .

If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of products and services offered by Mondaq by clicking here .

Information Collection and Use

We require site users to register with Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to view the free information on the site. We also collect information from our users at several different points on the websites: this is so that we can customise the sites according to individual usage, provide 'session-aware' functionality, and ensure that content is acquired and developed appropriately. This gives us an overall picture of our user profiles, which in turn shows to our Editorial Contributors the type of person they are reaching by posting articles on Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) – meaning more free content for registered users.

We are only able to provide the material on the Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) site free to site visitors because we can pass on information about the pages that users are viewing and the personal information users provide to us (e.g. email addresses) to reputable contributing firms such as law firms who author those pages. We do not sell or rent information to anyone else other than the authors of those pages, who may change from time to time. Should you wish us not to disclose your details to any of these parties, please tick the box above or tick the box marked "Opt out of Registration Information Disclosure" on the Your Profile page. We and our author organisations may only contact you via email or other means if you allow us to do so. Users can opt out of contact when they register on the site, or send an email to with “no disclosure” in the subject heading

Mondaq News Alerts

In order to receive Mondaq News Alerts, users have to complete a separate registration form. This is a personalised service where users choose regions and topics of interest and we send it only to those users who have requested it. Users can stop receiving these Alerts by going to the Mondaq News Alerts page and deselecting all interest areas. In the same way users can amend their personal preferences to add or remove subject areas.


A cookie is a small text file written to a user’s hard drive that contains an identifying user number. The cookies do not contain any personal information about users. We use the cookie so users do not have to log in every time they use the service and the cookie will automatically expire if you do not visit the Mondaq website (or its affiliate sites) for 12 months. We also use the cookie to personalise a user's experience of the site (for example to show information specific to a user's region). As the Mondaq sites are fully personalised and cookies are essential to its core technology the site will function unpredictably with browsers that do not support cookies - or where cookies are disabled (in these circumstances we advise you to attempt to locate the information you require elsewhere on the web). However if you are concerned about the presence of a Mondaq cookie on your machine you can also choose to expire the cookie immediately (remove it) by selecting the 'Log Off' menu option as the last thing you do when you use the site.

Some of our business partners may use cookies on our site (for example, advertisers). However, we have no access to or control over these cookies and we are not aware of any at present that do so.

Log Files

We use IP addresses to analyse trends, administer the site, track movement, and gather broad demographic information for aggregate use. IP addresses are not linked to personally identifiable information.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that Mondaq (or its affiliate sites) are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of these third party sites. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this Web site.

Surveys & Contests

From time-to-time our site requests information from users via surveys or contests. Participation in these surveys or contests is completely voluntary and the user therefore has a choice whether or not to disclose any information requested. Information requested may include contact information (such as name and delivery address), and demographic information (such as postcode, age level). Contact information will be used to notify the winners and award prizes. Survey information will be used for purposes of monitoring or improving the functionality of the site.


If a user elects to use our referral service for informing a friend about our site, we ask them for the friend’s name and email address. Mondaq stores this information and may contact the friend to invite them to register with Mondaq, but they will not be contacted more than once. The friend may contact Mondaq to request the removal of this information from our database.


This website takes every reasonable precaution to protect our users’ information. When users submit sensitive information via the website, your information is protected using firewalls and other security technology. If you have any questions about the security at our website, you can send an email to

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user’s personally identifiable information changes (such as postcode), or if a user no longer desires our service, we will endeavour to provide a way to correct, update or remove that user’s personal data provided to us. This can usually be done at the “Your Profile” page or by sending an email to

Notification of Changes

If we decide to change our Terms & Conditions or Privacy Policy, we will post those changes on our site so our users are always aware of what information we collect, how we use it, and under what circumstances, if any, we disclose it. If at any point we decide to use personally identifiable information in a manner different from that stated at the time it was collected, we will notify users by way of an email. Users will have a choice as to whether or not we use their information in this different manner. We will use information in accordance with the privacy policy under which the information was collected.

How to contact Mondaq

You can contact us with comments or queries at

If for some reason you believe Mondaq Ltd. has not adhered to these principles, please notify us by e-mail at and we will use commercially reasonable efforts to determine and correct the problem promptly.