Court of Appeal Resolves Statutory Accident Benefits Priority Disputes

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The Ontario Court of Appeal in its recent decision of Security National Insurance Company v. Markel Insurance Company, 2012 ONCA 683, has addressed a contentious area of law concerning who is responsible for paying an injured party’s statutory accident benefits. This decision appears to have settled the controversy as to whether an injured owner/operator of a commercial vehicle will have his or her accident benefits paid by the insurance carrier for the commercial vehicle, or whether those benefits will be paid by the insurance carrier for the injured drivers’ own vehicle.

This issue, known as a “priority dispute” between insurance companies, involves a consideration of section 66(1) of Statutory Accident Benefits Schedule – O. Reg. 403/96 (“SABS”), enacted pursuant to the Insurance Act, R.S.O. 1990, c. I.8. Section 66 is titled “Company Automobiles and Rental Automobiles” and reads:

(1) An individual who is living and ordinarily present in Ontario shall be deemed for the purpose of this Regulation to be the named insured under the policy insuring an automobile at the time of an accident if, at the time of the accident,

(a) the insured automobile is being made available for the individual’s regular use by a corporation, unincorporated association, partnership, sole proprietorship or other entity…

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