Ontario: make coverage denials clear and unambiguous

Clarke v. Sunlife is a reminder that for a denial of coverage to commence a limitation period, it needs to be clear and unambiguous:

[23]           It is not clear that the words used by the Sun Life letter of February 24, 2014 was a denial of disability benefits that amounted to “injury, loss or damage.” It used milder language than denial or refusal, and suggested that Ms. Clarke might “feel Totally Disabled from Any Occupation.” It invited more information to support her feeling.  However, it also said that her file was closed. This leads to an ambiguity, which leaves it unclear whether or not Ms. Clarke’s loss had “ripened” at this stage. However, assuming that Ms. Clarke’s loss was sufficiently identifiable at this point, a second issue must be addressed, that is whether Ms. Clarke was aware at the time of the February 2014 letter that a proceeding would be the appropriate means to seek a remedy for that loss.

Update! The Court of Appeal overturned this decision.