Saturday, March 03, 2012

Makati Tuscany Condominium Corporation vs. Court of Appeals [GR 95546, 6 November 1992]

Facts: Sometime in early 1982, American Home Assurance Co. (AHAC), represented by American International Underwriters (Phils.), Inc., (AIUI) issued in favor of Makati Tuscany Condominium Corporation (Tuscany) Insurance Policy AH-CPP-9210452 on the latter's building and premises, for a period beginning 1 March 1982 and ending 1 March 1983, with a total premium of P466,103.05. The premium was paid on installments on 12 March 1982, 20 May 1982, 21 June 1982 and 16 November 1982, all of which were accepted by AHAC. On 10 February 1983, AHAC issued to Tuscany Insurance Policy No. AH-CPP9210596,which replaced and renewed the previous policy, for a term covering 1 March 1903 to 1 March 1984. The premium in the amount of P466,103.05 was again paid on installments on 13 April 1983, 13 July 1983, 3 August 1983, 9 September 1983, and 21 November 1983. All payments were likewise accepted by AHAC. On 20 January 1984, the policy was again renewed and AHAC issued to Tuscany Insurance Policy AH-CPP-9210651 for the period 1 March 1984 to 1 March 1985. On this renewed policy, Tuscany made two installment payments, both accepted by AHAC, the first on 6 February 1984 for P52,000.00 and the second, on 6 June 1984 for P100,000.00. Thereafter, Tuscany refused to pay the balance of the premium. Consequently, AHAC filed an action to recover the unpaid balance of P314,103.05 for Insurance Policy AH-CPP-9210651. In its answer with counterclaim, Tuscany admitted the issuance of Insurance Policy AH-CPP-9210651. It explained that it discontinued the payment of premiums because the policy did not contain a credit clause in its favor and the receipts for the installment payments covering the policy for 1984-85, as well as the two (2) previous policies, stated the following reservations: (2) Acceptance of this payment shall not waive any of the company rights to deny liability on any claim under the policy arising before such payments or after the expiration of the credit clause of the policy; and (3) Subject to no loss prior to premium payment. If there be any loss such is not covered. Tuscany further claimed that the policy was never binding and valid, and no risk attached to the policy. It then pleaded a counterclaim for P152,000.00 for the premiums already paid for 1984-85, and in its answer with amended counterclaim, sought the refund of P924,206.10 representing the premium payments for 1982-85. After some incidents, Tuscany and AHAC moved for summary judgment. On 8 October 1987, the trial court dismissed the complaint and the counterclaim. Both parties appealed from the judgment of the trial court. Thereafter, the Court of Appeals rendered a decision modifying that of the trial court by ordering Tuscany to pay the balance of the premiums due on Policy AH-CPP-921-651, or P314,103.05 plus legal interest until fully paid, and affirming the denial of the counterclaim. Tuscany filed the petition.

Issue: Whether payment by installment of the premiums due on an insurance policy invalidates the contract of insurance.

Held: NO. The subject policies are valid even if the premiums were paid on installments. The records clearly show that Tuscany and AHAC intended subject insurance policies to be binding and effective notwithstanding the staggered payment of the premiums. The initial insurance contract entered into in 1982 was renewed in 1983, then in 1984. In those 3 years, the insurer accepted all the installment payments. Such acceptance of payments speaks loudly of the insurer's intention to honor the policies it issued to Tuscany. Certainly, basic principles of equity and fairness would not allow the insurer to continue collecting and accepting the premiums, although paid on installments, and later deny liability on the lame excuse that the premiums were not prepaid in full. Thus, while the import of Section 77 is that prepayment of premiums is strictly required as a condition to the validity of the contract, the Court was not prepared to rule that the request to make installment payments duly approved by the insurer, would prevent the entire contract of insurance from going into effect despite payment and acceptance of the initial premium or first installment. Section 78 of the Insurance Code in effect allows waiver by the insurer of the condition of prepayment by making an acknowledgment in the insurance policy of receipt of premium as conclusive evidence of payment so far as to make the policy binding despite the fact that premium is actually unpaid. Section 77 merely precludes the parties from stipulating that the policy is valid even if premiums are not paid, but does not expressly prohibit an agreement granting credit extension, and such an agreement is not contrary to morals, good customs, public order or public policy. So is an understanding to allow insured to pay premiums in installments not so proscribed. At the very least, both parties should be deemed in estoppel to question the arrangement they have voluntarily accepted. It appearing from the peculiar circumstances that the parties actually intended to make the three (3) insurance contracts valid, effective and binding, Tuscany may not be allowed to renege on its obligation to pay the balance of the premium after the expiration of the whole term of the third policy (AH-CPP-9210651) in March 1985. Moreover, where the risk is entire and the contract is indivisible, the insured is not entitled to a refund of the premiums paid if the insurer was exposed to the risk insured for any period, however brief or momentary.

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1 comments: on "Makati Tuscany Condominium Corporation vs. Court of Appeals [GR 95546, 6 November 1992]"

Roel Bobis said...

Very nice condominium here in makati anyway did you know any condo near in mckinley hill

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