Insurance coverage

‘High threshold’ required to deny insurance coverage to protesting truckers, expert says

Commercial trucks involved in the ongoing protests in Ottawa are unlikely to lose insurance coverage simply for participating in the protest, an industry expert says.

Despite some suggestions on social media that truckers in the convoy that has occupied the city’s central core for nearly two weeks could be denied claims if their rigs were involved in an incident, insurance broker Matthew Carr says there should be clear proof of illegal activity for any denial of a claim to stick.

“I don’t see it,” Carr, president of Gifford Carr Insurance Group in Kanata, told OBJ on Wednesday.

“Unless you’re using this vehicle illegally – whether you’re intoxicated or driving stunts or something – I don’t see a situation where an insurance company could deny a loss or outright voiding coverage solely on the basis of (being part of a protest) That’s a pretty high threshold they should meet.

Carr was commenting following a Twitter discussion in which a poster claiming to be a former underwriter argued that ‘by participating in an illegal occupation’ commercial trucks in the protest against vaccine mandates and other COVID-19 mandates violate the terms of their policies.

“War Activities”

The Ontario Automobile Policy states that insurance companies can deny claims for losses caused by “war activities” which include insurrection and rebellion.

While some Ottawa public officials have called the protests an “insurrection,” Carr said rig drivers participating in the protest would not be immediately banned from driving them, even if the “freedom convoy” was deemed to meet the legal definition of such an event.

Insurers are generally required to give 15 days’ notice before formally canceling a policy, usually via registered letter delivered to the operator’s doorstep, he noted.

“You get into the weeds of grabbing something to just get people to move on because of the downsides of that,” Carr said.

A website called now displays the names of businesses with trucks in the protest zone, along with photos of the rigs involved.

Carr said that while some insurers might not be comfortable offering coverage to drivers who took part in the protests and were later identified through the website, companies cannot legally refuse quotes to a licensed operator without clear evidence of traffic violations or other illegal activities that should be collected retroactively.

“It would be a logistical nightmare trying to pull it all together,” he said.

Josée Brisson, owner of Josée Brisson Insurance in Orleans, said it was “impossible” to provide a comprehensive answer as to whether a commercial truck would be denied coverage for participating in the protests.

“Insurance matters are all assessed against a very specific incident which then needs to be measured against the policy they carry,” she said in an email.