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I live at Vancouver, BC, Canada. My fiancee and I are contracting a so-called low-cost tenant home insurance with Square One. We've started this insurance 2 years ago and have been paying 44.27 CAD per month.

At the moment we signed for this insurance, I specifically asked the insurer a few questions of whether potential damages I could think of would be covered. Among these potential damages I asked whether a red wine stain on the carpet would be covered. The answer was "yes".

Recently, I accidentally touched my glass of red wine with my elbow while eating and made a red wine stain on my carpet! I contacted (by phone) the insurance and they answered by email afterward:

We regret to inform you that your policy does not cover the loss reported to us. More specifically, your policy does not insure loss or damage to property you rent, except for the unintentional damage to the premises or contents resulting from fire, explosion, water damage or smoke insured under this policy. We direct you to Section 7.3.1 (e) of your insurance policy for the specific wordings. As such, your claim file is now being closed

I am not sure I fully understand what is included in the term "premises".

  • Am I supposed to be covered?
  • If yes, what should I do to force Square One to respect our contract?
  • You might go after the agent who sold you the policy, for misrepresenting its terms. This would likely be a consumer protection claim rather than a contract issue. – phoog May 11 '16 at 4:24
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I assume this is the landlord's carpet. Your insurance covers damage caused by fire, explosion, water damage or smoke. The "premise" is the place you're renting, and some examples of content that you are renting would be whatever furnishing came with the place, carpets, and curtains. By the written contract (based on their email summary), you are not covered for damage to rented carpeting owing to wine spillage. However, to be certain, you should look for the relevant portion of the contract to see if the language of the contract matches their conclusion about non-coverage. There is a tiny chance that the wording is actually ambiguous and they interpret the wording in a way favorable to them, but to make any progress if that is the case, you'd have to sue them, and hope that the court rules in your favor.

Oral amendments to contracts are sort of possible, but I think there is no chance that they would agree to your contention claim that that you have an oral modification of the contract. You would need to prove exactly what you asked and how they responded (something better than fervently maintaining that you asked X and they said Y because nobody actually remembers conversations verbatim from 2 years ago). Contracts usually have clauses saying that "this contract is the whole contract", explicitly denying that there can be oral amendments. This is a general rule for contracts in Canada: see Gainers Inc. v. Pocklington Financial Corporation, 2000 ABCA 151 (CanLII)

When the deal is complete in the written contracts, and not subject to an escrow, other evidence (parol evidence) is inadmissible to vary or contradict a clear written contract: Chant v. Infinitum Growth Fund (1986) 1986 CanLII 2740 (ON CA), 15 O.A.C. 393, 55 O.R. (2d) 366, 369-70 (C.A.); Case Threshing Machine Co. v. Mitten (1919) 59 S.C.R. 118, 49 D.L.R. 30. More classic cases are cited in 1 Chitty on Contracts para. 12–094 (28th ed. 1999).

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