Reprinted from the Insurance Brokers Association of Alberta’s magazine – The Alberta Broker (August/September 2019)

The Case

In Greenidge v Allstate Insurance Company,[1] the insured, Jenine Greenidge (“Ms. Greenidge”), sued her insurer, Allstate Insurance Company (“Allstate”), after Allstate terminated Ms. Greenidge’s Section B accident benefits under Alberta’s Standard Automobile Policy SPF No. 1 (“SPF No. 1”).  Following a motor vehicle accident in which Ms. Greenidge suffered whiplash and temporomandibular joint (“TMJ”) injuries, Ms. Greenidge had made a claim under Section B of the SPF No. 1, and initially, Allstate made payments to Ms. Greenidge for her claim.  However, when Allstate requested that Ms.

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The Injured & The Restless: Principles of Contractual Interpretation Leave Insured With an Uphill Battle for Mattress Coverage

This article has been republished with permission by The Alberta Broker Magazine.

Interpreting Contracts

The general principles of contractual interpretation require a decision-maker to read the contract before them as a whole, giving the words used their ordinary and grammatical meaning, in a manner consistent with the surrounding circumstances known to the parties at the time of formation of the contract.  While remaining faithful to the actual language of a contract and without deviating from those words, the decision-maker may consider surrounding circumstances (often called the “factual matrix”) to aid in contractual interpretation.

Standard Form Contracts Are Unique

These principles are set out by the Supreme Court of Canada (the “Supreme Court”) in Creston Moly Corp v Sattva Capital Corp,1 and they apply broadly.  However, subsequent to Sattva, courts disagreed on whether the interpretive principles articulated in that decision also applied to standard form contracts—some appellate courts said they did, some said they did not.  As a result, two years later, the Supreme Court clarified in Ledcor Construction Ltd v Northbridge Indemnity Insurance Co2 that standard form contracts (e.g.

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