Daum Estate v. Sovereign General Insurance Co.

An application by a deceased individual's son for an order that the insurance policy covered the deceased's immediate family was dismissed where the court found that the Public Guardian and Trustee ("PGT") had taken control of the deceased's assets before her death and had all the deceased's rights, so she could not have passed such a right to the applicant through her estate.

[2012] B.C.J. No. 1487

2012 BCSC 1052

British Columbia Supreme Court

K.N. Affleck J.

July 16, 2012

On June 1, 2009, the PGT took control of the assets of Carole Daum pursuant to a certification of incapability. One of those assets was a house in Beaverdell, British Columbia. On assuming control of the assets, the PGT purchased a policy of insurance from an insurer ("Sovereign") which provided coverage in the event of damage to the house or to personal property. Carole Daum died in February 2010. The applicant, Tyrone Daum, was the son of the deceased and the administrator of her estate. Ms. Daum had not lived at the house in Beaverdell for several years before a fire damaged the house. Tyrone had at one time lived in the house but had not done so for several months prior to the fire. Ms. Daum and Tyrone Daum had personal property at the Beaverdell house which was lost in the fire. Tyrone applied for an order that the policy of insurance covered the immediate family of Carole Daum, including her two sons Jeffrey Daum and Tyrone Daum.

The policy of insurance purchased from Sovereign by the PGT provided that only the person named on the coverage summary page could take legal action against Sovereign. Tyrone argued that the definition of "insured" in the policy should be interpreted to include him. The court disagreed noting that the definition merely extended to those living in the same household and Mr. Daum was not living with his mother at any time relevant to the policy.

The court held that Carole Daum herself would not have had a right of action on the policy if she had been alive. Ms. Daum was a patient within the meaning of Patients Property Act, R.S.B.C. 1996, c. 349 and on becoming Ms. Daum's committee, the PGT had all the rights, privileges and powers with regard to the estate of Ms. Daum as Ms. Daum would have had if she had been of sound and disposing mind. Section 22(1) of the Patients Property Act precluded any person other than the committee from pursuing an action on behalf of a patient. Rule 20-2(2) precluded a person under a legal disability from pursuing an action in his or her own name. Therefore, Ms. Daum never had a right to sue on the policy and this right could not have been passed down to Tyrone Daum through the estate.