Filipino Merchants v. CA- Insurable Interest

179 SCRA 638


>  The Chao Tiek Seng a consignee of the shipment of fishmeal loaded on board the vessel SS Bougainville and unloaded at the Port of Manila on or about December 11, 1976 and seeks to recover from Filipino the amount of P51,568.62 representing damages to said shipment which has been insured by Filipino.

>  Filipino brought a third party complaint against Compagnie Maritime Des Chargeurs Reunis and/or E. Razon, Inc. seeking judgment against the third party defendants in case judgment is rendered against it.

>  It appears from the evidence presented that Chao insured said shipment with Filipino for the sum of P267,653.59 for the goods described as 600 metric tons of fishmeal in gunny bags of 90 kilos each from Bangkok, Thailand to Manila against all risks under warehouse to warehouse terms.

>  Actually, what was imported was 59.940 metric tons not 600 tons at $395.42 a ton.

>  The fishmeal in 666 gunny bags were unloaded from the ship on December 11, 1976 at Manila unto the arrastre contractor E. Razon, Inc. and Filipino’s surveyor ascertained and certified that in such discharge 105 bags were in bad order condition as jointly surveyed by the ship's agent and the arrastre contractor.

>  Based on said computation the Chao made a formal claim against the Filipino for P51,568.62.   A formal claim statement was also presented by the plaintiff against the vessel, but the Filipino refused to pay the claim.

Issues & Resolutions:

Filipino contends that an "all risks" marine policy has a technical meaning in insurance in that before a claim can be compensable it is essential that there must be "some fortuity," "casualty" or "accidental cause" to which the alleged loss is attributable and the failure of herein private respondent, upon whom lay the burden, to adduce evidence showing that the alleged loss to the cargo in question was due to a fortuitous event precludes his right to recover from the insurance policy.

SC did not uphold this contention. An "all risks policy" should be read literally as meaning all risks whatsoever and covering all losses by an accidental cause of any kind. The terms "accident" and "accidental", as used in insurance contracts, have not acquired any technical meaning. They are construed by the courts in their ordinary and common acceptance. Thus, the terms have been taken to mean that which happens by chance or fortuitously, without intention and design, and which is unexpected, unusual and unforeseen. An accident is an event that takes place without one's foresight or expectation; an event that proceeds from an unknown cause, or is an unusual effect of a known cause and, therefore, not expected.

Coverage under an "all risks" provision of a marine insurance policy creates a special type of insurance which extends coverage to risks not usually contemplated and avoids putting upon the insured the burden of establishing that the loss was due to the peril falling within the policy's coverage; the insurer can avoid coverage upon demonstrating that a specific provision expressly excludes the loss from coverage.   A marine insurance policy providing that the insurance was to be "against all risks" must be construed as creating a special insurance and extending to other risks than are usually contemplated, and covers all losses except such as arise from the fraud of the insured.   The burden of the insured, therefore, is to prove merely that the goods he transported have been lost, destroyed or deteriorated. Thereafter, the burden is shifted to the insurer to prove that the loss was due to excepted perils. To impose on the insured the burden of proving the precise cause of the loss or damage would be inconsistent with the broad protective purpose of "all risks" insurance.

In the present case, there being no showing that the loss was caused by any of the excepted perils, the insurer is liable under the policy

Filipino contends that Chao does not have insurable interest, being only a consignee of the goods.

Anent the issue of insurable interest, SC upheld the ruling of the CA that Chao, as consignee of the goods in transit under an invoice containing the terms under "C & F Manila," has insurable interest in said goods.

Section 13 of the Insurance Code defines insurable interest in property as every interest in property, whether real or personal, or any relation thereto, or liability in respect thereof, of such nature that a contemplated peril might directly damnify the insured. In principle, anyone has an insurable interest in property who derives a benefit from its existence or would suffer loss from its destruction whether he has or has not any title in, or lien upon or possession of the property.   Insurable interest in property may consist in (a) an existing interest; (b) an inchoate interest founded on an existing interest; or (c) an expectancy, coupled with an existing interest in that out of which the expectancy arises.

Chao, as vendee/consignee of the goods in transit has such existing interest therein as may be the subject of a valid contract of insurance. His interest over the goods is based on the perfected contract of sale.   The perfected contract of sale between him and the shipper of the goods operates to vest in him an equitable title even before delivery or before he performed the conditions of the sale.   The contract of shipment, whether under F.O.B., C.I.F., or C. & F. as in this case, is immaterial in the determination of whether the vendee has an insurable interest or not in the goods in transit. The perfected contract of sale even without delivery vests in the vendee an equitable title, an existing interest over the goods sufficient to be the subject of insurance