FREDERICTON – The New Brunswick Women’s Council is expressing support for proposed amendments to the Insurance Act introduced this week that address exclusionary clauses within home insurance policies that may prevent payment if the loss or damage to property is caused by any intentional or criminal act and by any person insured under the policy.
“Innocent co-insured, meaning individuals who are covered under the policy but who are not responsible for the intentional damage to property, may be denied compensation due to these exclusionary clauses,” says council co-chair Jewell Mitchell. “This can have consequences in the context of divorce, separation, and domestic and intimate partner violence as abusers may destroy property as a means of control and violence, particularly if they believe the victim will not be able to recover anything under their insurance policy.”
British Columbia, Alberta, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and Quebec have already amended their respective insurance acts to address this issue; Ontario has introduced legislation to do so as well. The Insurance Board of Canada has also recommended its members voluntarily modify their policies to protect innocent co-insureds.
“Further action will be needed to ensure these changes have the desired effect,” says council co-chair Jody Dallaire. “For example, steps must be taken to ensure that investigations into claims recognize the unique dynamics of domestic violence, the complexities around coercion, safety, etc., and the effects of trauma.”
The council has advised government that this may require additional training for insurance providers, as well as access to free or affordable legal representation and/or guidance for innocent co-insureds.
The New Brunswick Women’s Council is an independent advisory body on women’s equality issues.
Media contact: Beth Lyons, Executive Director, New Brunswick Women’s Council 506-462-5142 [email protected]