Saturday, March 03, 2012

Gulf Resorts Inc. vs. Philippine Charter Insurance Corporation [G.R. No. 156167 May 16, 2005]

Facts: Gulf Resorts is the owner of the Plaza Resort situated at Agoo, La Union and had its properties in said resort insured originally with the American Home Assurance Company (AHAC). In the first 4 policies issued, the risks of loss from earthquake shock was extended only to petitioner’s two swimming pools. Gulf Resorts agreed to insure with Phil Charter the properties covered by the AHAC policy provided that the policy wording and rates in said policy be copied in the policy to be issued by Phil Charter. Phil Charter issued Policy No. 31944 to Gulf Resorts covering the period of March 14, 1990 to March 14, 1991 for P10,700,600.00 for a total premium of P45,159.92. the break-down of premiums shows that Gulf Resorts paid only P393.00 as premium against earthquake shock (ES). In Policy No. 31944 issued by defendant, the shock endorsement provided that “In consideration of the payment by the insured to the company of the sum included additional premium the Company agrees, notwithstanding what is stated in the printed conditions of this policy due to the contrary, that this insurance covers loss or damage to shock to any of the property insured by this Policy occasioned by or through or in consequence of earthquake (Exhs. "1-D", "2-D", "3-A", "4-B", "5-A", "6-D" and "7-C"). In Exhibit "7-C" the word "included" above the underlined portion was deleted. On July 16, 1990 an earthquake struck Central Luzon and Northern Luzon and plaintiff’s properties covered by Policy No. 31944 issued by defendant, including the two swimming pools in its Agoo Playa Resort were damaged. 

Petitioner advised respondent that it would be making a claim under its Insurance Policy 31944 for damages on its properties. Respondent denied petitioner’s claim on the ground that its insurance policy only afforded earthquake shock coverage to the two swimming pools of the resort. The trial court ruled in favor of respondent. In its ruling, the schedule clearly shows that petitioner paid only a premium of P393.00 against the peril of earthquake shock, the same premium it had paid against earthquake shock only on the two swimming pools in all the policies issued by AHAC. 

Issue: Whether or not the policy covers only the two swimming pools owned by Gulf Resorts and does not extend to all properties damaged therein

Held: YES. All the provisions and riders taken and interpreted together, indubitably show the intention of the parties to extend earthquake shock coverage to the two swimming pools only. An insurance premium is the consideration paid an insurer for undertaking to indemnify the insured against a specified peril. In fire, casualty and marine insurance, the premium becomes a debt as soon as the risk attaches. In the subject policy, no premium payments were made with regard to earthquake shock coverage except on the two swimming pools. There is no mention of any premium payable for the other resort properties with regard to earthquake shock. This is consistent with the history of petitioner’s insurance policies with AHAC.

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