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When rescuers damage your vehicle, will insurance pay?

Sometimes, in the case of a child trapped in a hot car for example, rescuers are forced to take drastic action. But will insurance pay for damage?

Published May 16, 2012
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Q: I have an insurance question regarding “damage done with permission” as it were.

For example, one driver uses their car to push another motorist’s disabled car to the next gas station, at the request of the broken down motorist.

Likewise, there’s an online clip of a mom who locked her keys in the car along with her babies on a scorching hot day. She calls 911 but, in the mean time, asks passersby to break the window.

In both examples above, drivers in need asked for the assistance of others, so I presume they’d have no claim against the helper, or this person’s insurance, for any damages? That is, neither party can claim against the other’s insurance for bumper damage in the push scenario.

Can the mom make any claim against her own insurance for the broken window claiming the action was necessary in an emergency?

What about when the fire department rips apart your vehicle to extricate victims after a rollover? Is this covered by insurance?

A: Steve Kee, spokesperson for the Insurance Bureau of Canada, replies:

In cases where damage wasn’t accidental, there wouldn’t be coverage.

It’s best to check with insurers when an incident happens but, generally, if the fire department is doing something then, yes, it would be covered.

As for Section 7, in the case of actions done to save a life, I would think that comprehensive coverage would cover that as well.

Keep in mind that a broken window might cost $250 to fix and your deductible might be $500 or $1000, so it’s all relative.

Eric Lai adds:

In the fire department extrication scenario, the question is probably moot since the automobile would likely already be a write-off if such drastic action were necessary.

Before breaking a window, check if all other doors, window, tailgate, sunroof etc. are locked and closed. OnStar-equipped GM vehicles can have doors opened remotely by OnStar.

Although it might seem like forever, it will likely be only a few minutes after calling 911 before police, fire, or a tow truck monitoring the frequency will arrive to assist.

Q: I have a 4-demerit point driving conviction in Quebec. Will it affect my insurance and driver’s licence in Ontario?

A: Ontario Transportation Ministry spokesperson Bob Nichols replies:

The provinces of Ontario and Quebec have a reciprocal agreement to share driver record conviction and suspension information and drivers are subject to all the penalties and requirements of their home jurisdiction, just as if the offence occurred there.

As a result of a conviction in Quebec, a conviction report would be forwarded to Ontario and applied to the Ontario record. If applicable, appropriate penalties (demerit points, suspension) will be assessed just as if the offence had occurred in Ontario.

(Steve Kee of the Insurance Bureau of Canada also confirms the above with regard to insurance.)

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