THINGS TO KNOW SO YOU NEVER BE IN A SITUATION WHERE YOUR INSURANCE COMPANY WILL NOT COVER YOU

When Can Auto Insurance Policies Be Voided in Alberta

Auto insurance is vital in owning a vehicle, providing vehicle owners with financial protection and peace of mind. However, there are some instances where insurance companies may be able to void or deny your insurance policy, leaving you on the hook for possibly hundreds if not thousands of dollars. It’s important for vehicle owners to know of these circumstances, to avoid ending up having their claim denied. We will explore some of these situations that could lead to your insurance coverage being voided.

1.) Non-Payment of Premiums:

One of the simplest reasons why your insurance policy may be voided is not paying your premiums on time or within the grace period provided by your insurance company. It is important for vehicle owners to ensure they are aware of their payment schedule to avoid missing payments, especially if they are on a monthly payment plan.

2.) Unauthorized Use of your Vehicle:

It is important to be honest with your insurance company about how your vehicle will be used and for what purpose. Most insurance companies will ask you when you get a policy whether you’re insuring your vehicle for personal or business use. It may seem like it’s not a big deal to say personal use when, in fact, you are using it for business purposes to save money on premiums. However, this can have dire consequences, as your claim may be denied if you were to get in an accident for lying to your insurance company or even if you didn’t intend to lie but provided information that would exclude you from the coverage by the policy. If you are in an at-fault accident, this would mean you would be potentially personally responsible for the costs related to your injuries, third-party lawsuits, and any damage to your vehicle.

3.) Misrepresenting who the Primary Driver is:

Auto insurance companies consider various factors when determining premiums, with a significant factor being the driving history of the primary driver. Therefore, it is common to hear about many people, especially parents, listing themselves as primary drivers while their children drive the vehicle most of the time. This scheme may save some money in premiums in the short term but allows insurance companies to void your policy.  This is considered “fronting” by insurance companies, and it will not only get your policy voided, but you may also face criminal charges for fraud.

Also, you risk having your policy cancelled if you do not disclose to the insurance company all the people in your house who will be driving the car. Ex. Not informing the insurance company that your children who live with you, will also be driving the car. Insurance agreements are considered “good faith” contracts, meaning you have a duty to be honest with your insurance and notify them of any material changes that occur.

4.) Drunk Driving:

There are many consequences for getting in an accident while driving drunk or impaired, including from your insurance company. One such consequence is that your Section C coverage, which is the optional coverage that covers any property damage, will be voided. This is because the auto policy in Alberta has an exclusion clause that allows insurance company to deny this coverage if you are convicted of driving under the influence, or if you are “incapable of proper control” of the vehicle due to the influence of drugs or alcohol. Further, your insurance company can deny you disability benefits from the Section B portion of your auto policy. These are the benefits that would normally pay you a weekly amount if you were unable to work due to injuries from an accident. Section B does have many more coverage benefits including cost of phsyiotherapy, chiropractic treatments and psychological rehabilitation and treatments. For more on Section B benefits please refer to our previous blog.

It is important to note that the insurance company can not deny the third-party liability coverage of a person found to be drunk or impaired at the time of an accident. This means victims of an accident can still sue the drunk driver and recover their losses.  Lastly, if you do get an impaired driving conviction on your record, it will be extremely challenging finding an insurance company that provides full comprehensive coverage and you can also expect your insurance premiums to at least double.

In conclusion, it is important to be aware of situations that may result in you losing your insurance coverage, so you can avoid making those mistakes. Finding another insurance company to insure you may be difficult and pricey if you end up getting your policy voided for any reason. It is vital that you are always as honest and upfront as possible with your insurance company; that way, you have complete financial protection and peace of mind if you are ever in an accident.

 

 

 

Some Driving Mistakes Can Have Criminal Consequences

Criminal Law: Overview of Traffic-Related Offences

Civil Law versus Criminal Law Most traffic activity in the province is regulated in the civil realm through the Traffic Safety Act, including such things as:

· distracted driving,

· careless driving,

· speeding,

· and more

Depending on the type of offence, you could face a fine and demerit points that would appear on your driver’s abstract that is kept with the Alberta registries.

However, there are some types of conduct that when committed with intention or recklessness can amount to a criminal offense in Canadian law under our Criminal Code. This means that if you are convicted of the charges, they could appear on your criminal record as opposed to simply appearing on your driver’s abstract.

Consequences of Criminal Convictions

Criminal convictions carry serious consequences that affect your ability to:

· work,

· travel,

· and other freedoms

For those who hold permanent resident or refugee status, a criminal conviction can also impact your ability to even stay in Canada.

Types of Criminal Driving Offences

Some types of intentional or reckless conduct are well-known for being offenses under the Criminal Code: such as if you were to:

· drive a car while impaired by drugs or alcohol (section 320.14), as well as any accidents you may cause as a result of that,

· drive a car in a dangerous manner to the public (section 320.13), and again, for any accidents you may cause as a result of that,

· fail to stop without reasonable excuse for an officer who is pursuing you (section 320.17)

However, perhaps a lesser-known criminal offence is if you fail to stop after an accident your car is involved in – section 320.16(1). Indeed, this section requires that if you’re involved in an accident – unless you have a reasonable excuse – you must stop your car, give your name and address information to the other people at the scene, and offer assistance to any person who seems injured or seems like they need help.

There are further consequences if you fail to remain at a scene where your car was involved in an accident that hurt someone (section 320.16(2)) or that resulted in someone’s death (section 320.16(3)). Note that there are also specific sections that result in charges where you failed to stop for an accident you were involved in where you were impaired by drugs or alcohol.

The Criminal Code is thorough in that if your car was involved in an accident, you should just stop and remain on the scene.

An Example from Our Case Law In the recent 2023 Manitoba case of R v Goodman (T.S.), Tyler Goodman, the accused (i.e. the person who was convicted of the charges), pled guilty to driving while impaired which resulted in the death of Jordyn Reimer, and he also pled guilty for failing to stop and remain at the scene. Tragically, Jordyn, the deceased, was a designated driver for her friends that night, and was struck by Tyler while she was on her way to pick up one of her friends.

In sentencing Tyler for the convictions, the court sentenced him to six years in jail for the charge of impaired driving resulting in death, as well as a further one year for the charge of failing to remain at the scene. His sentences were to be served consecutively, which means one after the other.

In closing – we encourage you to exercise caution and drive safely out there, and to be aware of the laws that are in place to protect us when certain incidents happen in relation to a car accident.