Ontario’s Highest Court Slaps Echelon General Insurance Company’s Hands

The Ontario Court of Appeal released a decision on October 18, 2011 which ought to serve as a warning to automobile insurers that unfairly deny necessary benefits to their injured clients. In McQueen v Echelon http://www.ontariocourts.on.ca/decisions/2011/2011ONCA0649.htm, the Court was asked to consider whether or not an award of damages for mental distress in the amount of $25,000.00 ought to be upheld. It is noted that the award for mental distress caused by the insurer actually exceeded the value of benefits that the insurer had refused to pay to its insured.

The Court was satisfied that the manner in which the insured was treated justified that award. The insurer’s file notes had made negative references to the insured and the Court agreed that the insurer took a very adversarial approach to the insured from the beginning of the claim. The Court further found that the insurer ignored the insured’s medical evidence, preferring only the conclusions of its own assessors and consistently failed to give the insured the benefit of the doubt when claims were advanced on her behalf.

Unfortunately, the conduct of the insurer which prompted the Court to award damages for the mental distress caused to the injured person is relatively common. However, this case demonstrates that, with proper legal representation, a person can go to Court to achieve a just result and that the courts will sanction insurers where their conduct warrants it.”