Interpreting Your Motor Vehicle Insurance Policy

Nova Scotia uses standard form motor vehicle insurance policies. Each policy generally has four sections: A, B, C, and D.


Section A is third party liability insurance. This covers you or anyone driving your vehicle with your permission for any liability for loss or damages that occur as a result. In Nova Scotia, an insured driver is required by s.125 (1) of the Insurance Act to carry a minimum of $500,000.00 in third party liability insurance. Many people carry between $1,000.000.00 – $2,000,000.00 in coverage, and the cost to increase these limits is usually quite reasonable. In the event you are found liable for a claim which exceeds your Section A policy limit, you will be  personally liable to pay any remaining balance after your insurer’s limit has been exhausted.


Section B is your accident benefits coverage. Benefits are paid regardless of who is at fault for the accident. To be eligible for Section B benefits, an injured person must provide the insurance company with notice of the accident within 30 days and file a proof of claim within 90 days.  Section B insurance covers things such as medical treatments, loss of employment income, and other expenses in certain circumstances. For example:

  • Section B will cover medical expenses up to $50,000.00 or for 4 years, whichever comes first.  
  • Section B will cover 80% of your net income loss up to a maximum of $250.00 per week if you were employed for 6 months out of the previous 12 months before the accident or are seasonally employed, and you are unable to perform the essential duties of your job for more than 7 days as a result, and your loss of income occurs within 30 days of the accident. After two years, you must be unable to do any job to continue receiving Section B loss of income benefits.
  • Section B will cover Housekeeping Expenses up to a maximum of $100.00 per week for 17 weeks if you are a principal unpaid housekeeper and are unable to perform the duties of a housekeeper.
  • Section B also provides limited death benefits as a result of the death of the head of the household, the spouse of the head of the household, or a dependant, as well as some funeral expenses.  


Section C is coverage for damage to your own vehicle. Section C insurance is not mandatory. The majority of policies require a deductible for any damages paid out under this section. Section C covers repairs to your vehicle or its actual cash value if the vehicle is rendered a total constructive loss. It may also provide coverage for fire or theft of the insured vehicle.


Section D is uninsured or unidentified driver coverage. If you suffer damages as a result of an unidentified or uninsured driver, and you have coverage on your own vehicle or are the spouse or dependant of someone in your household who has insurance, you can seek recovery through Section D. This is only available if you cannot bring a third-party claim. While the minimum amount of coverage required in Nova Scotia is $500,000.00, if you are injured in another jurisdiction, your insurer is not obligated to pay more than the minimum amount of coverage required in that jurisdiction. As an insured driver, you are not considered “at fault” for making a Section D claim.


In Nova Scotia, an insured driver also has the option of purchasing what is known as Standard Endorsement Form 44 [“SEF 44”] coverage, also known as a Family Protection Endorsement. If you or any member of your family are injured in a motor vehicle accident due to the fault of another driver and your damages are more than the other driver’s Section A coverage, your SEF 44 coverage will cover the difference up to your policy limit. Also, if you are injured by an unidentified or uninsured driver and your damages are more than the minimum Section D limits, your SEF 44 coverage will cover the difference. Usually, SEF 44 coverage is automatically added to your motor vehicle insurance policy if you carry more than the minimum required coverage of $500,000.00, but you should check with your broker to be sure.

Sampson McPhee has prepared this publication to provide legal information of a general nature. It is not intended to provide legal advice. If you have any questions or concerns one of our lawyers will be happy to assist you. You can reach us by calling 902 539 2425.

COVID-19 Regulatory Initiatives

All Nova Scotia businesses are required to follow the Health Protection Act Order issued by the Medical Officer of Health. The Health Protection Act Order can be viewed here. The following sectors are subject to additional business and service restrictions, which can be viewed here. Those sectors include: 

  • Childcare and education;
  • Disability support programs;
  • Healthcare and continuing care;
  • Personal and wellness services; 
  • Recreation services;
  • Religious services;
  • Restaurants, bars and casinos; and 
  • Veterinarians.

Businesses that were previously ordered to close under the Health Protection Act Order are required to follow approved sector-specific plans for re-opening. The approved sector specific plans can be found here.

Regardless of whether your business was previously ordered to close under the Health Protection Order, it is important to follow government guidelines for keeping your workplace safe. Those guidelines can be found here

Bringing Employees Back to Work

  • Whether employees were temporarily laid off or working from home, we recommend that employers provide as much notice and guidance as possible in advance of their planned return to work.
  • As of March 22, 2020, Nova Scotia declared a state of emergency under the Emergency Management Act. If an employee is unable to perform their work duties because of an emergency declared under the Emergency Management Act, Nova Scotia’s Labour Standards Code provides that the employee is entitled to an unpaid leave of absence for as long as the emergency continues or prevents the employee from performing their duties. Reasons employees may be unable to perform their work duties due to Covid-19 include unavailability of childcare, self-isolation requirements or the need to care for a relative who has Covid-19. 
  • Employers should work with employees as necessary to accommodate a safe return to the workplace for all. Employers should be cognizant of the protected grounds under Nova Scotia’s Human Rights Act. Where an employee is unable to return to work or feels unsafe returning to work due to circumstances falling under one of these grounds, a duty to accommodate to the point of undue hardship may arise on the employer’s part. Protected grounds which may be of particular relevance during the Covid-19 include:
    • age;
    • family status;
    • physical or mental disability; and
    • irrational fear of contracting an illness or disease.

Information Relevant to Local Industries

  • Anyone entering Nova Scotia must self-isolate for 14 days when they arrive. Where a person is entering the province to board a fishing vessel, where possible, they may self-isolate on the fishing vessel for 14 consecutive days. If a person chooses to self-isolate on a fishing vessel, that person can’t leave the boat for any reason until the end of those 14 days, including to get supplies. The boat can dock and have supplies delivered.
  • Persons working in the transportation sector, whose work involves transporting goods or people across Nova Scotia’s border, including, truck drivers, and crew, maintenance and operational workers on planes, trains or marine vessels, and who are in good health are exempt from the 14 day self-isolation requirement. 
  • Nova Scotia is allowing temporary foreign workers to enter the province. They are required to self-isolate for 14 days. Where possible, temporary foreign workers should self-isolate onsite at their place of work. 

For more information regarding regulations and policies that may affect you and your business, please do not hesitate to reach out to us directly at 902-539-2425 or

Sampson McPhee Announces Two New Partners

Sydney, NS – Sampson McPhee Lawyers are pleased to announce the naming of Liam Gillis and Tyler MacLennan to their partnership. On January 1, 2020, Gillis and MacLennan will join the three present partners, Robert Sampson Q.C., Harvey McPhee Q.C. and Elsbeth Cassidy.

“Liam and Tyler have proven to be exceptional lawyers and are well respected by their clients and our community at large,” says Robert Sampson, Founding Partner, Sampson McPhee.

“Liam and Tyler continue to impress with their ability to handle complicated cases, as well as their passion for helping the communities they serve, here in Cape Breton. On behalf of our entire team, we want to congratulate our two new partners on their achievements and welcome
them to our partnership team!”

Both Gillis and MacLennan joined Sampson McPhee in 2015, after receiving their Juris Doctor from the Schulich School of Law at Dalhousie University. Gillis’s practice focuses primarily on civil litigation and personal injury, as well as labour, employment, and property law. MacLennan’s practice focuses on corporate and commercial law, including corporate restructuring, shareholder disputes, contracts and tax planning.

“It’s an honour to be named a partner at Sampson McPhee. This announcement speaks to the firm’s commitment to attracting and retaining fresh talent, as well as the firm’s continued growth. I am grateful for the opportunity to build my career at home in Cape Breton,” says Gillis.
MacLennan adds: “Both Liam and I look forward to continuing to provide the utmost professionalism and quality service to our clients and to expand on our contributions to the practice of law as a whole.”

For over 35 years, Sampson McPhee has provided innovative and practical solutions, timely and efficient service and a breadth and depth of knowledge and experience in all areas of the law to a diverse client base. As Cape Breton Island’s largest law firm, they provide services of the highest calibre in every area of law, a goal to which the members of the firm are committed to at every level.

Media Contact:
Robert Sampson Q.C.
Founding Partner, Sampson McPhee Law Firm

Including Your Whole Family in Your Will


Cape Breton families are growing increasingly complex. As of the 2016 Census, of the 12,960 families with at least one child under the age of 24 in Cape Breton, only 6,295 (48.6%) were intact families. 1,125 Cape Breton families with at least one child under the age of 24 were stepfamilies. 

Complex families can make the distribution of your estate…well…complex. However, if you have a stepfamily and want to ensure your whole family receives something from your estate, the most important step you can take is having a will prepared. In Nova Scotia, if you die intestate (without a will), the Intestate Succession Act governs the distribution of your estate. The Intestate Succession Act does not provide for step relations. Therefore, if you want your step relatives to receive anything from your estate, you will need to prepare a will. 

When it comes to preparing your will, here are some additional considerations for complex families:

Choosing an Executor: If you are concerned about tension and conflict between your family members following your death, you should carefully consider who you choose to be the executor of your will. In some situations it may be wise to choose a neutral third party as opposed to a family member. 

Mutual Wills: Some spouses with blended families choose to execute mutual wills. Spouses frequently create “mirror” wills, leaving everything to their spouse, and in the event their spouse predeceases them, to their children. However, you may want assurance that in the event you predecease your spouse, your children will still benefit from your estate. A mutual will includes a clear clause whereby the spouses agree that following the death of one spouse, the surviving spouse is prohibited from revoking or changing their will. 

Life Interests: Providing a spouse with a life interest is another option that may be attractive if you are trying to balance the interests of your spouse and your children in a blended family. A life interest enables the testator to leave an asset, for example a home or shareholdings, to their spouse, for the remainder of the spouse’s life, and then, on the spouse’s death, to their children. In some cases, a life interest to your spouse may be a better fit than leaving an asset for your spouse and children to share, which can lead to conflicts and even the forced sale of the asset. 

Sampson McPhee has prepared this publication to provide legal information of a general nature. It is not intended to provide legal advice. If you have any questions or concerns one of our lawyers will be happy to assist you. You can reach us by calling 902 539 2425.

Recently Engaged? Three Legal Considerations Before Walking Down the Aisle

Applying for your Marriage Licence:

In order for your marriage to be valid, you need to obtain a marriage licence in advance of your ceremony. Nova Scotia has recently updated the laws regarding the issuance of marriage licences. Both you and your fiancé(e) will have to visit an Access Nova Scotia Office to apply for your marriage licence, as you will both need to complete an affidavit form which must be witnessed.

You will both be required to provide your full names, ages, addresses, marital statuses and occupations. You will also both need to bring a signed piece of government-issued identification, proof of your age, and a certified copy of either your:

  • valid photo driver’s licence;
  • birth certificate;
  • baptism certificate;
  • passport; or
  • Canadian citizenship card.

Also, if either of you is divorced or widowed, you will need to bring proof of divorce or proof of death.

The application fee is $132.70.

Marriage licences now expire three months after they are issued. You will want to ensure you apply for your marriage licence within three months of your wedding ceremony to avoid having to complete the process twice.

Contracting with Vendors:

When contracting with wedding vendors, it is important to carefully review these contracts and to ensure they clearly set out all of the products or services you expect to receive.

Recently, a pair of Nova Scotia newlyweds sued the rental company they hired to provide tents, tables, chairs, linens, dishes, cutlery, a dance floor, and other items for their wedding. The rental company delivered the items two days late and there was a lot of confusion as to what services were to be provided by the rental company. As a result, the wedding preparations were significantly delayed, the rehearsal dinner was virtually cancelled, and many of the bride and groom’s close friends and family members had to stay up late into the early morning hours of the wedding day to set up.

Although the Court awarded the newlyweds $5,419.39, this was less than they had sought and their enjoyment of their wedding was severely impacted.

The Small Claims Court Adjudicator provided the following advice to future couples hoping to avoid a similar situation, “a clearly itemized list of who is responsible for what would go a long way to ensuring what happened here does not happen again.”

Wills, Power of Attorneys and Beneficiary Nominations:

This is a good time for you and your spouse to think about your wills, power of attorneys and beneficiary nominations. Now that you are getting married, you may wish to change your previously expressed intentions, or you may feel it is important to express your intentions for the first time.

You should also be aware that in Nova Scotia, if you have already made a will, it will be revoked by your marriage, unless the will specifically says it was prepared in contemplation of your upcoming marriage. This rule only applies to wills, therefore, if you already have a power of attorney, it will not be revoked by your upcoming marriage.

You may also have previously completed forms nominating a beneficiary or beneficiaries of your pensions or insurance policies. On your death, these assets will not form part of your estate. As such, even if you execute a new will leaving everything to your new spouse, these assets will go to the previously nominated beneficiary. If you wish to change a beneficiary nomination, you should inquire directly with your pension or insurance plan providers to learn how to do so.

Sampson McPhee has prepared this publication to provide legal information of a general nature. It is not intended to provide legal advice. If you have any questions or concerns one of our lawyers will be happy to assist you. You can reach us by calling 902 539 2425.

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