Vda. De Canilang v. CA - Concealment

223 SCRA 443 (1993)


>  Canilang consulted Dr. Claudio and was diagnosed as suffering from "sinus tachycardia." Mr. Canilang consulted the same doctor again on 3 August 1982 and this time was found to have "acute bronchitis."

>  On the next day, 4 August 1982, Canilang applied for a "non-medical" insurance policy with Grepalife naming his wife, as his beneficiary.  Canilang was issued ordinary life insurance with the face value of P19,700.

>  On 5 August 1983, Canilang died of "congestive heart failure," "anemia," and "chronic anemia."  The wife as beneficiary, filed a claim with Grepalife which the insurer denied on the ground that the insured had concealed material information from it.

>  Vda Canilang filed a complaint with the Insurance Commissioner against Grepalife contending that as far as she knows her husband was not suffering from any disorder and that he died of kidney disorder.

>  Grepalife was ordered to pay the widow by the Insurance Commissioner holding that there was no intentional concealment on the Part of Canilang and that Grepalife had waived its right to inquire into the health condition of the applicant by the issuance of the policy despite the lack of answers to "some of the pertinent questions" in the insurance application.  CA reversed.


Whether or not Grepalife is liable.


SC took note of the fact that Canilang failed to disclose that hat he had twice consulted Dr. Wilfredo B. Claudio who had found him to be suffering from "sinus tachycardia" and "acute bronchitis.  Under the relevant provisions of the Insurance Code, the information concealed must be information which the concealing party knew and "ought to [have] communicate[d]," that is to say, information which was "material to the contract.

The information which Canilang failed to disclose was material to the ability of Grepalife to estimate the probable risk he presented as a subject of life insurance. Had Canilang disclosed his visits to his doctor, the diagnosis made and the medicines prescribed by such doctor, in the insurance application, it may be reasonably assumed that Grepalife would have made further inquiries and would have probably refused to issue a non-medical insurance policy or, at the very least, required a higher premium for the same coverage.

The materiality of the information withheld by Canilang from Grepalife did not depend upon the state of mind of Jaime Canilang. A man's state of mind or subjective belief is not capable of proof in our judicial process, except through proof of external acts or failure to act from which inferences as to his subjective belief may be reasonably drawn. Neither does materiality depend upon the actual or physical events which ensue. Materiality relates rather to the "probable and reasonable influence of the facts" upon the party to whom the communication should have been made, in assessing the risk involved in making or omitting to make further inquiries and in accepting the application for insurance; that "probable and reasonable influence of the facts" concealed must, of course, be determined objectively, by the judge ultimately.

SC found it difficult to take seriously the argument that Grepalife had waived inquiry into the concealment by issuing the insurance policy notwithstanding Canilang's failure to set out answers to some of the questions in the insurance application. Such failure precisely constituted concealment on the part of Canilang. Petitioner's argument, if accepted, would obviously erase Section 27 from the Insurance Code of 1978.