When we discuss civil liability insurance—for either car, home or business insurance—with our clients, the subject seems somewhat unclear and many clients are unsure about the scope of this coverage.

Assurances Multi-Risques would like to shed more light on this coverage—one of the most important in your insurance policy, in our opinion.

*In this article, we’ll look only at home insurance, but don’t worry, we’ll give you more information about automobile and business civil liability insurance in the coming weeks.

What is the civil liability portion of a home insurance policy?

Whether you live in an apartment or own a home, cottage or income property, you benefit from civil liability insurance as part of your home insurance policy. It is governed by law and, in Quebec, is entirely regulated by the Civil Code of Quebec. It will protect you if you are held liable for damages unintentionally caused to another person.

So, if you live in an apartment and improperly installed your dishwasher, leading to considerable water damage affecting the apartment building and the apartment directly below yours, you will be civilly liable for the damage. The same holds true if someone were to be injured on your property.

Here are a few other examples of events that your civil responsibility insurance may cover:

  • Your cat scratches someone else’s child, causing damage to their vision;
  • Your child and their friends play with matches and cause a fire that destroys the entire building;
  • During a trip, while playing volleyball, you accidentally cause someone else to have a concussion;
  • You’re staying at a hotel and cause major water damage;
  • A child who is visiting you at your house drowns in your pool.

In other words, civil liability insurance doesn’t cover you for personal injuries that you sustain or those sustained by your partner or children; rather, it covers unintentional damages or injuries caused by you or members of your immediate family.

Furthermore, most of the time, people think that this insurance covers only injuries or damage that occur on their home premises. But that’s not the case! On the contrary, civil liability insurance not only covers you for your insured premises, but also follows you wherever you go in the world, in all your activities!

Civil liability insurance also protects you from potential legal proceedings following a mishap on your part and covers attorney fees and fees related to settling the claim brought by the other person.

In short, a person can take you to court after sustaining injuries for which they hold you liable, whether they have valid reasons to do so or not. For this reason, it is extremely important to really understand your civil liability insurance policy, as you may be subject to legal proceedings based on groundless allegations.

In addition, as in any home insurance policy, certain limitations and exclusions exist. However, we will not discuss them here as the wording varies from one insurer to the next. There is, however, one widely used exclusion: damage or loss caused by a malicious, illegal or intentional act on the part of the insured are not covered.

What you should do in the event of damage

We recommend that you inform your home insurance company or insurance broker as soon as you are aware of a problematic situation to avoid problems down the road. The sooner your insurer knows about the issue, the faster they’ll be able to properly defend you and settle things.

In conclusion, even though we hope it never happens, if you should ever happen to cause harm to someone, don’t panic! You’ll know that, thanks to civil liability insurance, you’re covered. Meanwhile, we nonetheless suggest that you contact your home insurance company or insurance broker for more information about civil liability insurance, because it varies from one insurer to the next. And be careful—accidents happen so fast!