Sex claim no accident

Sex claim not accidental

A recent case has defined "accident" in Co-operators Life Insurance Co. v. Gibbens.

A man from Port Coquitlam, British Columbia became paraplegic after contracting herpes from unprotected sex just lost a $200,000 disability award when the Supreme Court of Canada (SCC) sided with his insurance company. The ruling is that Gibbens misfortune was not an accident. This ruling overturned two earlier victories for Gibbens in B.C. courts where it was decided that he lost the use of his legs by accident because he could not have anticipated it.

In a unanimous ruling the SCC said that allowing Randolph Gibbens to collect an award "would stretch the boundaries of an accident policy beyond the snapping point". The concern is that the accident policy would become health insurance for those who suffer from a disease but at a much reduced premium. Someone who picks up a disease "in the ordinary course of events" would not ordinarily be described as having been in "an accident"

The Co-operators Life Insurance Company was in court against the former high-pressure water blaster. The focus of the case was what is the meaning of the word "accident" when you are deciding on an insurance claim. The definition got revisited with the Court looking at the traditional definition of "unlooked‑for mishaps or untoward events which are not expected or designed" and "the idea of something fortuitous and unexpected, as opposed to something proceeding from natural causes".

The Court held that insurance is written to protect against certain defined risks. Care should be taken not to convert, for example, an accident policy into a general health, disability, or life insurance policy. Accident insurance is relatively cheap compared to the more comprehensive forms of insurance.

"It cannot be correct that passengers sitting in an airliner who catch the SARS virus through the externality of the plane's air circulation system, or riders on a bus who catch 'swine flu' from an infected fellow passenger, or people who contract any number of infectious diseases because of a failure to wash hands in disinfectant, or to smack a circling mosquito, have valid claims under an accident policy."

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