Saturday, March 03, 2012

Insurance Life Assurance Co. Ltd. vs. Feliciano [G.R. No. L-47593 December 29, 1943]

Facts: Evaristo Feliciano, who died on September 29, 1935, was suffering with advanced pulmonary tuberculosis when he signed his applications for insurance with the petitioner on October 12, 1934. On that same date Doctor Trepp, who had taken X-ray pictures of his lungs, informed the respondent Dr. Serafin D. Feliciano, brother of Evaristo, that the latter "was already in a very serious ad practically hopeless condition." Nevertheless the question contained in the application — "Have you ever suffered from any ailment or disease of the lungs, pleurisy, pneumonia or asthma?" — appears to have been answered , "No" And above the signature of the applicant, following the answers to the various questions propounded to him, is the following printed statement:

I declare on behalf of myself and of any person who shall have or claim any interest in any policy issued hereunder, that each of the above answers is full, complete and true, and that to the best of my knowledge and belief I am a proper subject for life insurance. (Exhibit K.) 

The false answer above referred to, as well as the others, was written by the Company's soliciting agent Romulo M. David, in collusion with the medical examiner Dr. Gregorio Valdez, for the purpose of securing the Company's approval of the application so that the policy to be issued thereon might be credited to said agent in connection with the inter-provincial contest which the Company was then holding among its soliciting agents to boost the sales of its policies. Agent David bribed Medical Examiner Valdez with money which the former borrowed from the applicant's mother by way of advanced payment on the premium. before the insured signed the application he, as well as the members of his family, told the agent and the medical examiner that he had been sick and coughing for some time and that he had gone three times to the Santol Sanatorium and had X-ray pictures of his lungs taken; but that in spite of such information the agent and the medical examiner told them that the applicant was a fit subject for insurance. 

Each of the policies sued upon contains the following stipulations: 

the Company shall not be bound by any promise or representation heretofore or hereafter given by any person other than the above-named officials, and by them only in writing and signed conjointly as stated. 

[ABOVE NAMED OFFICIALS REFER TO THE PRES/MANAGER, ACTING JOINTLY WITH THE SEC/ASST SEC] 

Issue: Whether or not the policy is valid 

Held: It is void. 

When Evaristo Feliciano, the applicant for insurance, signed the application in blank and authorized the soliciting agent and/or medical examiner of the Company to write the answers for him, he made them his own agents for that purpose, and he was responsible for their acts in that connection. If they falsified the answers for him, he could not evade the responsibility for he falsification. He was not supposed to sign the application in blank. He knew that the answers to the questions therein contained would be "the basis of the policy," and for that every reason he was required with his signature to vouch for truth thereof. 

He knew, or was chargeable with knowledge, from the very terms of the two policies sued upon (one of which is printed in English and the other in Spanish) that the soliciting agent and the medical examiner had no power to bind the Company by any verbal promise or oral representation. The insured, therefore, had no right to rely — and we cannot believe he relied in good faith — upon the oral representation of said agent and medical examiner that he (the applicant) was a fit subject for insurance notwithstanding that he had been and was still suffering with advanced pulmonary tuberculosis.

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