FREDERICTON (GNB) – Proposed amendments to the Insurance Act tabled today aim to protect innocent co-insureds in cases of intimate partner violence and property damage.

“Domestic abuse victims are particularly vulnerable when their partner damages or destroys the home,” said Finance Minister Cathy Rogers. “Increasing access to services and supports for women victims of intimate partner violence is an area of focus in the New Brunswick Family Plan report on advancing women’s equality. This is just one of the changes we are making to address the barriers people face when trying to stay safe when there has been abuse in a relationship.”

Most home insurance policies exclude payment for loss or damage caused by an intentional or criminal act by any person insured by the policy. This can be detrimental in the context of separation, divorce or domestic violence if a spouse deliberately sets fire or causes damage to the property. However, some insurance companies do pay notwithstanding the exclusion.

The proposed amendments, developed in partnership with the Office of the Consumer Advocate for Insurance, the Financial and Consumer Services Commission and the Women’s Equality Branch, would prevent insurance companies from using exclusions to deny coverage in such cases. The amendments would allow innocent co-insureds to receive their share of compensation.

“Our office is very pleased that the government agreed with our request to modify the Insurance Act,” said Michèle Pelletier, the consumer advocate for insurance. “This new amendment will prohibit insurers from relying on the exclusionary clause to prevent innocent co-insureds from receiving compensation for their interest in the property. Other provinces had already amended their acts. New Brunswick consumers needed  legislative protection.”

“This change will assist victims of intimate partner violence by reducing the financial loss to them as they begin rebuilding their lives,” said commission CEO Rick Hancox. “It will also bring New Brunswick into line with several other provinces. This is a positive step toward ensuring that victims of domestic abuse do not experience additional, unnecessary hardship after a traumatic incident.”