Man wrongly removed from ex-wife’s insurance plan: BC Supreme Court

Case revolves around two applications brought during high-conflict family law proceeding

Man wrongly removed from ex-wife’s insurance plan: BC Supreme Court

A man should not be removed from his ex-wife’s health, extended health, and dental insurance benefits plan as a result of a divorce order between them, the Supreme Court of British Columbia said in a recent case.

The parties were married in August 2000 and separated in January 2017. They executed a November 2018 separation agreement that covered parenting arrangements for their three children, support, and property division.

In January 2021, Justice Paul Riley issued an interim order directing the following:

  • The father should return to the mother certain personal effects, including a pandora bracelet and a native bracelet
  • The family residence in Chilliwack Lake Road should be sold, with the mother having sole conduct of the sale
  • The mother could not remove the father from her health insurance

In February 2021, the mother received $220,000 as compensation payment. The next month, the divorce order was granted.

In March 2022, the mother provided the divorce order to J&D Benefits Inc., which administered her benefits plan, to update them about her marital status. The company informed her that the father was no longer eligible for benefits since he was no longer defined as a “spouse.” That same day, the father was undergoing dental work, which the insurer did not cover due to his removal from the mother’s benefits even though the insurer had pre-approved the dental work.

The present matter involved certain outstanding issues in the parties’ high-conflict family law proceeding. The issues arose from the mother’s application dated Aug. 10 and from the father’s application dated Aug. 15.

Father reinstated to insurance plan

In Smith v Kolisnyk, 2022 BCSC 2098, the B.C. Supreme Court ruled that the father should not have been removed from the mother’s health, extended health, and dental insurance benefits plan due to the divorce order.

According to the court, the parties’ separation agreement provided that the mother would maintain her medical, extended health, and dental coverage through her employment for the father’s benefit for as long as it was available. The agreement did not state that the benefits would end upon the proclamation of a divorce order.

The court noted that a divorce was likely at the time of the separation agreement’s writing and that the insurer said that it was willing to continue the benefits, even after the parties’ divorce, if the parties agreed to such a continuation.

The mother alleged that reinstating the father under her insurance plan could infringe on her privacy since the contact address was changed to the father’s address. The court acknowledged her concern but found it insufficient as a basis to deny the father the health benefits that he clearly needed.

The court ordered the mother to take the necessary steps for the father to be reinstated retroactively to the date that he was removed from coverage. The court left the mother, as the insurance plan’s member, to advise the insurer that her address should not be changed to the father’s address.

However, the court said that the father was not entitled to any damages for loss of wages or pain and suffering arising from the cancellation of the health benefits.

Second, the court ordered the father to pay the mother $537.54 for the value of the pandora bracelet. But the court denied the mother’s claim that the father should pay her the repair cost for the native bracelet since the evidence did not show that he was responsible for the bracelet’s damage.

Third, the court dismissed the father’s application for the mother or her counsel to pay fines. This was because the court found no breaches of Justice Riley’s order on their part.

Lastly, the court rejected the father’s demand for the mother to pay 50 percent of the interest incurred for mortgages registered against the family residence, given that the separation agreement clearly stated that he was responsible for all costs and liabilities associated with the property.

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