C.A. Says Motor Vehicle Accident Claims Fund is “Insurer” for Purposes of Dispute Resolution

In two decisions, released today, a five-member panel of the Court of Appeal has held that the Motor Vehicle Accident Claims Fund is, for limited purposes, an “insurer”.

The cases are Allstate Insurance Company of Canada v. Motor Vehicle Accident Claims Fund and Kingsway v. Ontario. In both cases, the Fund had paid statutory accident benefits to claimants and then sought reimbursement from the insurers (Allstate and Kingsway, respectively). When those attempts failed, the Fund commenced arbitration of the disputes, relying on regulation 283/95, which deals with “Disputes Between Insurers”. Both insurers argued that since the Fund was not an “insurer”, the arbitrator had no jurisdiction to hear the cases.

The Court of Appeal noted that, for certain purposes, the legislation already treats the Fund as an insurer. For example, under the Statutory Accident Benefits Schedule, the Fund is deemed to be an insurer for purposes of payment of those benefits. However, it also accepted the insurers’ argument, that either┬áthe Fund is an insurer under regulation 283/95 and is bound by all of its provisions (including the prohibition on litigation) or it is not, in which case it cannot take advantage of any of the regulation’s provisions.

After examining the legislation, the Court concluded that the Fund is an insurer for the purpose of resolving disputes over payment of accident benefits, even though it conceded that “literally, of course, the Fund is not an insurer”.

In reaching its decision, the Court of Appeal reconsidered one of its prior decisions, Kalinkine v. Ontario (Superintendent of Financial Services). In that case, another panel of the Court of Appeal had held that the Fund was not an insurer for purposes of dispute resolution of accident benefits claims. Today, the Court of Appeal said that, in so finding, the Court in Kalinkine had been wrong.

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