Canadians are much more mobile than they used to be, and it is
not uncommon for an Ontario resident to purchase a policy of life
or accident and sickness insurance here and designate beneficiaries
who do not reside in Ontario. Consider, for example, a grandmother,
now deceased, who resided in Ontario and purchased life insurance
here. Her minor granddaughter and grandson reside in New York state
and are the beneficiaries of the life insurance. Both grandchildren
have authorized representatives under New York law who may accept
payments on their behalf. Recent amendments to Ontario's Insurance Act will make it easier for
insurers to pay out benefits to minors pursuant to life and
accident and sickness insurance policies and obtain a valid
discharge. These amendments offer insurers a clear and
cost-effective process for paying out the proceeds, eg. of a policy
of life insurance, and obtaining a valid discharge where a
beneficiary is a non-resident minor and has an authorized
representative. As many financial advisors are licensed to sell
both insurance products and securities, we anticipate that these
changes will be of broad interest.
Prior to the amendments to the Insurance Act, section
220 (life insurance) there was no provision that permitted an
insurer to pay benefits to an authorized representative of a minor
appointed pursuant to the law of the minor's place of
residence, eg. to guardians or custodians for a minor appointed
pursuant to New York state law, as in the above example. Thus an
insurer who "admitted liability" for insurance money
directly payable to a minor (eg. under a life
insurance policy), was required to pay the money into court to the
minor's credit. Section 321 of the Act (accident and
benefit insurance) was a little broader, in that benefits had to be
paid into court only if there was no person capable, authorized and
willing to give a valid discharge. However, in neither case did the
Act explicitly grant an insurer a discharge for funds paid
to a non-Ontario authorized representative who was allowed to
accept payments on behalf of the beneficiary under the law of the
jurisdiction in which the beneficiary resides.
The recent amendments to sections 221 and 322 of the Act now
clearly provide, among other things, that an insurer is discharged
to the extent of the amount paid on behalf of a minor to an
authorized representative who has the authority to accept payments
on behalf of that minor, pursuant to the law of the place where the
minor resides. There is no counterpart provision in the
Succession Law Reform Act ("SLRA") with respect
to the designation of beneficiaries to "plans" (including
RRSPS and RRIFs) but one can hope that the Province will at some
point amend that Act to include one.
Under B.C.'s former and current Limitation Act, the limitation period for a Plaintiff's claim can be extended on the basis of a Defendant having acknowledged in writing some liability for the cause of action.
Automobile drivers, like fine wine, tend to get better with age. Older drivers can draw on a wealth of experience from their years on the road to assist them when faced by a variety of dangerous conditions.
The insurance industry will be interested in Ledcor Construction Ltd v. Northbridge Indemnity Insurance Co because of principles the Supreme Court of Canada applied to the "faulty workmanship" exclusion in a Builders' Risk policy.
For the first time in BC, a Court has decided that an insured is entitled to special costs, rather than the lower tariff costs, solely because they were successful in a coverage action against their insurer.
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