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Civil Litigation, Insurance

Court agrees to hear insurance claim for diminished value

The case of a driver suing his insurance company for the diminished value of his luxury car following an accident may the first of its kind in Ontario, but it likely won’t be the last, says Toronto litigator Isabelle Eckler.

In the ongoing Renwick v Allstate Insurance Company of Canada, 2016 CanLII 44178 (ON SCSM), the court agreed to consider the plaintiff’s claim against his insurance company for damages related to the reduced worth of his Jaguar following a rear-end collision by another vehicle, according to court documents.

The events unfolded in 2014 when the driver’s Jaguar was rear-ended by a commercial truck driver in the course of his employment. The driver’s own insurer paid for the repairs to his vehicle, but refused the charges for diminished value, so he filed an initial small claims suit against Penske and its driver, both were represented by Eckler, an associate with Shibley Righton LLP.

“In our case, we brought a motion to strike based on the Ontario Insurance Act’s no-fault regime that prohibits an insured individual from suing another driver for damages to his or her automobile. We were successful, but the plaintiff continued to pursue the claim against his own insurance company,” she tells AdvocateDaily.com.

Allstate also moved to strike the claim, but the court found that the matter should go to trial where evidence could be presented on whether the insurance policy covered damages from diminished value, Eckler points out. 

“It’s not something the courts have decided on in Ontario, so the plaintiff was relying on cases from other provinces to show that diminished value damages have been accepted in other jurisdictions,” she says. 

“When people research used cars, they often consult Carfax reports, which outline the history of the vehicle. In this case, the plaintiff was claiming his car was worth approximately $4,000 less after the repairs than it was before the accident."

Even though this is a small claims court decision, it addresses unsettled law in Ontario and could have an impact on how auto insurance policies are interpreted by the courts, Eckler says.

“If it turns out that diminished value is included in the standard insurance policy, we will likely see more claims of this kind, and it may also result in legislative changes to the Insurance Act,” she says.

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