03 Aug Home insurance a wise investment in the face of a lawsuit
Homeowners without insurance are taking a risk as there is always a chance someone will get hurt on their property, says Barrie civil litigator Scott Hawryliw, who often represents people in that precarious situation.
“If you don’t have home insurance, and someone slips and falls on your driveway, or maybe your dog bites them, you could be liable for serious cost consequences,” says Hawryliw, founder of SRH Litigation.
“If the case goes to trial, and your lawyer is able to successfully defend the claim, or at least significantly reduce the damage award, you still will have incurred major legal expenses, so you would have been much better off to have home insurance in the first place,” he tells AdvocateDaily.com.
Hawryliw says part of his practice is made of up clients who did not have coverage when something happened on their property, and now they are being sued.
“Most people have home insurance, but not everyone,” he says. “I represent many people who, for whatever reason, don’t, and they end up in litigation after an incident.”
Their reasons for not having insurance are varied, Hawryliw says, with some saying they could not afford the coverage.
“Other times it is inadvertent, or they unintentionally allowed the policy to elapse,” he says, explaining that can happen in cases like divorce, where issues can fall through the cracks.
When defending these clients, Hawryliw says the first thing he does is to see if there are other parties with insurance that can be brought in as co-defendants.
“If it is a slip and fall, and the person is part of a condominium, we will try to bring in the condo corporation,” he says.
“If it happened on the sidewalk in front of the client’s home in winter, maybe the municipality could be brought in, or the company with the contract to plow the snow from the sidewalks,” Hawryliw says.
In the case of a fire in the home, he says the cause of the blaze is important. If it was due to faulty wiring, the electrician or the homebuilder could be brought in as co-defendants.
“Their inclusion is not going to relieve my client of paying all the costs in this situation, but it’s going to push a great deal of the damages onto someone else with insurance,” Hawryliw says.
He urges all homeowners to get insurance as a safeguard.
“If your dog bites someone or if a person slips and falls on your driveway, your home insurance will respond on your behalf,” Hawryliw says.
He says that response may include covering legal costs to defend the claim, plus paying the plaintiff if there is a settlement or trial award.
“Home insurance is not that much, especially compared to what it would cost to defend yourself in a lawsuit,” Hawryliw says. “The $1,000 or $2,000 you would pay in home insurance will not go very far at all when it comes to litigation.”
He also cautions people not to think they can wait until something happens before insuring their home.
“If something happens that you are responsible for, purchasing insurance afterward does not help,” Hawryliw says. “It is not retroactive, so as soon as something happens and you don’t have insurance, it is too late.”