Sun Life v. CA - Concealment in Insurance

245 SCRA 268 (1995)


>  On April 15, 1986, Bacani procured a life insurance contract for himself from Sun Life. He was issued a life insurance policy with double indemnity in case of accidental death. The designated beneficiary was his mother, Bernarda.

>  On June 26, 1987, the insured died in a plane crash. Bernarda Bacani filed a claim with Sun Life, seeking the benefits of the insurance. Sun Life conducted an investigation and its findings prompted it to reject the claim.

>  Sun Life discovered that 2 weeks prior to his application, Bacani was examined and confined at the Lung Center of the Philippines, where he was diagnosed for renal failure. During his confinement, the deceased was subjected to urinalysis, ultra-sonography and hematology tests.  He did not reveal such fact in his application.

>  In its letter, Sun Life informed Berarda, that the insured did not disclosed material facts relevant to the issuance of the policy, thus rendering the contract of insurance voidable. A check representing the total premiums paid in the amount of P10,172.00 was attached to said letter.

>  Bernarda and her husband, filed an action for specific performance against Sun Life.  RTC ruled for Bernarda holding that the facts concealed by the insured were made in good faith and under the belief that they need not be disclosed. Moreover, it held that the health history of the insured was immaterial since the insurance policy was "non-medical."   CA affirmed.


Whether or not the beneficiary can claim despite the concealment.



Section 26 of the Insurance Code is explicit in requiring a party to a contract of insurance to communicate to the other, in good faith, all facts within his knowledge which are material to the contract and as to which he makes no warranty, and which the other has no means of ascertaining.

Materiality is to be determined not by the event, but solely by the probable and reasonable influence of the facts upon the party to whom communication is due, in forming his estimate of the disadvantages of the proposed contract or in making his inquiries (The Insurance Code, Sec 31)

The terms of the contract are clear. The insured is specifically required to disclose to the insurer matters relating to his health. The information which the insured failed to disclose were material and relevant to the approval and the issuance of the insurance policy. The matters concealed would have definitely affected petitioner's action on his application, either by approving it with the corresponding adjustment for a higher premium or rejecting the same. Moreover, a disclosure may have warranted a medical examination of the insured by petitioner in order for it to reasonably assess the risk involved in accepting the application.

Thus, "good faith" is no defense in concealment. The insured's failure to disclose the fact that he was hospitalized for two weeks prior to filing his application for insurance, raises grave doubts about his bonafides. It appears that such concealment was deliberate on his part.