Proposed changes to insurance legislation in New Brunswick being tabled on Wednesday would block insurers from denying coverage for losses caused by an abusive spouse, removing a barrier to victims of domestic violence from exiting the situation.

The proposed amendments — which were developed by the Financial and Consumer Services Commission (FCNB), the Office of the Consumer Advocate for Insurance and the Women’s Equality Branch — aim to prevent insurance companies from using exclusions to deny coverage in cases in which an abusive spouse causes the damage.

Currently, most home insurance policies exclude intentional damage caused by a person insured by the policy, which, the FCNB says, “can be detrimental in the context of separation, divorce or domestic violence if a spouse deliberately sets fire or causes damage to the property.”

The proposed amendments would allow innocent co-insureds to receive their share of compensation in these cases.

“This change will assist victims of intimate partner violence by reducing the financial loss to them as they begin rebuilding their lives,” says Rick Hancox, CEO of the FCNB, in a statement. “It will also bring New Brunswick into line with several other provinces. This is a positive step toward ensuring that victims of domestic abuse do not experience additional, unnecessary hardship after a traumatic incident.”

“Our office is very pleased that the government agreed with our request to modify the Insurance Act,” adds Michèle Pelletier, consumer advocate for insurance, in a statement. “This new amendment will prohibit insurers from relying on the exclusionary clause to prevent innocent co-insureds from receiving compensation for their interest in the property. Other provinces had already amended their acts. New Brunswick consumers needed legislative protection.”