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Roque v. Pilot Insurance Company

Court of Appeal for Ontario ruling that affects Canadian drivers in Michigan making claim for “inadequately insured motorist” benefits

Case impact

A Canadian citizen who was injured by a negligent Michigan driver has 12 months from the date “‘when he has a body of evidence accumulated that would give him a “reasonable chance” of persuading a judge that his claim'” exceeds Michigan’s minimum liability limit, which is $20,000 (2012).

For more information, read our blog on Roque v. Pilot Transportation: How much time after a Michigan crash does a Canadian driver have to file an ‘inadequately insured motorist’ claim?

Here’s the official Court of Appeal for Ontario citation on Roque v. Pilot Transportation.

Below is our analysis of the case:

Michigan attorneys representing Canadian citizens who have been injured in a Michigan auto accident need to know about an important “inadequately insured motorist” ruling from the Court of Appeal for Ontario.

In Roque v. Pilot Insurance Company, the Court of Appeal for Ontario addressed the issue of when a claim for “inadequately insured motorist” benefits must be filed with an injured Canadian’s auto insurance company.

A unanimous three-justice panel concluded that a Canadian citizen who was injured by a negligent driver has 12 months from the date “‘when he has a body of evidence accumulated that would give him a “reasonable chance” of persuading a judge that his claim would exceed $200,000,'” which is “the minimum coverage allowed in Ontario.”

For attorneys representing Canadian drivers injured in Michigan car accidents caused by negligent Michigan drivers, the Roque ruling means that the 12-month limitations period for filing an “inadequately insured motorist” begins to run from the date when “a body of evidence” exists showing that the Canadian victim’s damages exceed Michigan’s minimum liability limit, which is $20,000. (See MCL 500.3009(1))

In Roque, the Court of Appeal for Ontario was interpreting Section 17 of Canada’s OPCF 44, the Family Protection Endorsement, which provides:

“Every action or proceeding against the insurer for recovery [of inadequately insured motorist benefits] shall be commenced within 12 months of the date that the eligible claimant or his or her representative knew or ought to have known that the quantum of claims with respect to an insured person exceeded the minimum limits for motor vehicle liability insurance in the jurisdiction in which the accident occurred, but this requirement is not a bar to an action which is commenced within 2 years of the date of the accident.”

In handing down its “body of evidence” interpretation of OPCF 44, Section, 17, the Court of Appeal for Ontario rejected the following arguments:

  • The court said the limitation period for a Canadian citizen filing an “inadequately insured motorist” claim does not begin to run only after “the plaintiff’s damages have been quantified by settlement or judgment.” The court determined it was possible to determine the “inadequately insured” status of at an at-fault Michigan driver prior to settlement or judgment.
  • Knowing with certainty “that the quantum of [the plaintiff’s claim] is greater than the tortfeasor’s insurance coverage” is not required to start the running of the limitations period. Instead, the court emphasized, the legal standard is when a car accident victim “knew or ought to have known” that his or her damages exceeded the at-fault driver’s liability coverage.
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