Philamlife v. Ansaldo - Jurisdiction of the Insurance Commissioner

234 SCRA 509


>  Ramon M. Paterno sent a letter-complaint to the Insurance Commissioner alleging certain problems encountered by agents, supervisors, managers and public consumers of the Philamlife as a result of certain practices by said company.

>  Commissioner requested petitioner Rodrigo de los Reyes, in his capacity as Philamlife's president, to comment on respondent Paterno's letter.

>  The complaint prays that provisions on charges and fees stated in the Contract of Agency executed between Philamlife and its agents, as well as the implementing provisions as published in the agents' handbook, agency bulletins and circulars, be declared as null and void. He also asked that the amounts of such charges and fees already deducted and collected by Philamlife in connection therewith be reimbursed to the agents, with interest at the prevailing rate reckoned from the date when they were deducted

>  Manuel Ortega, Philamlife's Senior Assistant Vice-President and Executive Assistant to the President, asked that the Commissioner first rule on the questions of the jurisdiction of the Insurance Commissioner over the subject matter of the letters-complaint and the legal standing of Paterno.

>  Insurance Commissioner set the case for hearing and sent subpoena to the officers of Philamlife.  Ortega filed a motion to quash the subpoena alleging that the Insurance company has no jurisdiction over the subject matter of the case and that there is no complaint sufficient in form and contents has been filed.

>  The motion to quash was denied.



Whether or not the insurance commissioner had jurisdiction over the legality of the Contract of Agency between Philamlife and its agents.



No, it does not have jurisdiction.

The general regulatory authority of the Insurance Commissioner is described in Section 414 of the Insurance Code, to wit:

"The Insurance Commissioner shall have the duty to see that all laws relating to insurance, insurance companies and other insurance matters, mutual benefit associations and trusts for charitable uses are faithfully executed and to perform the duties imposed upon him by this Code, . . . ."


On the other hand, Section 415 provides:

"In addition to the administrative sanctions provided elsewhere in this Code, the Insurance Commissioner is hereby authorized, at his discretion, to impose upon insurance companies, their directors and/or officers and/or agents, for any willful failure or refusal to comply with, or violation of any provision of this Code, or any order, instruction, regulation or ruling of the Insurance Commissioner, or any commission of irregularities, and/or conducting business in an unsafe or unsound manner as may be determined by the Insurance Commissioner, the following:

a) fines not in excess of five hundred pesos a day; and

b) suspension, or after due hearing, removal of directors and/or officers and/or agents."


A plain reading of the above-quoted provisions show that the Insurance Commissioner has the authority to regulate the business of insurance, which is defined as follows:

"(2)          The term 'doing an insurance business' or 'transacting an insurance business,' within the meaning of this Code, shall include (a) making or proposing to make, as insurer, any insurance contract; (b) making, or proposing to make, as surety, any contract of suretyship as a vocation and not as merely incidental of the surety; (c) doing any kind of business, including a reinsurance business, specifically recognized as constituting the doing of an insurance business within the meaning of this Code; (d) doing or proposing to do any business in substance equivalent to any of the foregoing in a manner designed to evade the provisions of this Code. (Insurance Code, Sec. 2 [2])

Since the contract of agency entered into between Philamlife and its agents is not included within the meaning of an insurance business, Section 2 of the Insurance Code cannot be invoked to give jurisdiction over the same to the Insurance Commissioner. Expressio unius est exclusio alterius.