Is this Canadian tradition a liability?

Is this Canadian tradition a liability? | Insurance Business Canada

Is this Canadian tradition a liability?
Tobogganing is already disappearing from hillsides due to liability concerns – so can the backyard hockey rink be far behind?

“It is a question of: can you find liability?” says Pete Karageorgos, the director of consumer and industry relations with the Insurance Bureau of Canada. “Well, I guess like so many things these days, it is people looking for opportunities to win the lottery without having a ticket. It is trying to find someone at fault without taking responsibility for their own actions.”

Karageorgos told Insurance Business that he did a bit of looking at the standard policy wordings, and there “really are no exclusions prohibiting things like this in a person’s insurance policy.”

“It is on a case by case situation. You’ve got to realize that a liability means the individual is liable for causing harm to someone else who is not an insured,” he says. “So if I’m building a backyard rink for me and my kids, and we get hurt – we don’t have the ability to sue ourselves under the home insurance policy. If my neighbour comes and he twists an ankle, on what grounds are you liable? It depends on the creativeness of anyone making that claim.”

In the case of tobogganing, more and more municipalities are banning that favourite winter pastime on hills, following some expensive lawsuit settlements (see ‘Cities banning tobogganing over liability concerns’)

“Look at that whole situation that is going on with tobogganing,” says Karageorgos. “As a young kid I remember tobogganing down my school’s hill at lunch time, and back then we didn’t have sleds, so we used plastic bags. We knew it was slippery and icy – but that was the whole point! Could you get hurt? Of course you could. That’s why municipalities are getting out of it – the liability is just too great.

“It is a question of: can you find liability? Well, I guess like so many things these days, it is people looking for opportunities to win the lottery without having a ticket.”

Backyard skating rinks made the headlines when the city of Cornwall, Ont. ordered Laura and Brian Vincent to demolish their homemade hockey rink, citing safety issues, as the rink encroached on city land where gas, phone and high-voltage electrical lines could be buried.

“This has nothing to do with the rink or the kids having fun,” Cornwall Mayor Leslie O’Shaughnessy told reporters. “This is a public safety issue. If we condone it, where are we headed?” (continued.)

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