What could be more unpleasant than discovering that water has leaked into your RV? And what could be more shocking than to hear from your insurer that you’re not covered for this damage?! What exactly constitutes a leak and why are some of them covered by your insurance while others aren’t?
First of all, it’s important to read your insurance policy carefully to see what it covers. Not all contracts offer the same protection. For instance, most Aviva RV policies use what is known as QPF No.1, i.e. Quebec automobile insurance policy, owner’s form. You will see that your automobile insurance policy is divided into two sections, A and B.
Section A deals with liability arising from the ownership, use and operation of the vehicle. In other words, the damage you may cause to others.
Section B is the one that interests us in this case. It concerns damage to your RV. At the very beginning of section B, the policy states that “The Insurer agrees to indemnify the Insured against direct and accidental loss of or damage to the automobile, including its equipment”. The words “direct and accidental” are very important in determining whether your claim will be accepted. They each have a precise and very significant meaning. “Direct” means in a direct fashion, in a straight line, with no intermediaries, while “accidentally” means fortuitously and unpredictably. In other words, they are the opposite of indirectly and gradually.
During a storm, a falling tree branch cracks the roof of your RV. This creates two kinds of damage: the crack in the roof caused by the branch, and the damage caused by the water that leaks in through the crack in the roof. In both cases, there is direct and accidental damage. The claim will be accepted by your insurer and paid according to your coverage and deductible.
The sealant in the roof joints has not been inspected since the RV was purchased, and over time it hardened, shrank, cracked and let water in. Suddenly you notice a mark on the ceiling. The dealer opens up the ceiling to see the problem, and finds mould. “That’s not covered!” he says. Why? Because it is not due to an accident. There is no trace of an impact, fall, etc. So it is not “accidental.” Mould is like peeling siding or rust – a gradual deterioration. So it is not covered.
In short, it’s all a matter of context. If the situation occurs suddenly, unavoidably, it is covered. If it occurs gradually, over a long period of time, with no accidental aspect, it is not covered.
Note that lack of maintenance can cause joint sealant to age more quickly. This is then considered normal wear and tear, and is specifically excluded from the insurance contract.
A recent legal opinion confirms that the courts have ruled on this question. Even the Supreme Court of Canada confirmed that the “accidental” aspect is necessary for the damage to be covered.
But what about cases where there is no normal wear and tear and no accidental aspect? When the RV is brand new? In that case the manufacturer is liable. It is not up to the insurer to warranty defective work or manufacturing problems. Article 2465 of the Civil Code of Québec is clear on this subject: “The insurer is not bound to indemnify for injury resulting from natural loss, diminution or losses sustained by the property arising from an inherent defect in, or the nature of, the property.”
Regardless of your situation, at Aviva we make sure that each case receives individual attention. When the facts related by the insured match the details observed by our team of expert evaluators, we accept the claim and recommend payment under the terms of the insurance contract. When we cannot establish with complete certainty that the claim is unacceptable or if there is a doubt, you as the insured get the benefit of the doubt. That’s why we’ve been in this field for over 30 years.
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