Thursday, July 12, 2012

South Sea v CA G.R. No. 102253 June 2, 1995

J. Vitug

Valenzuela Hardwood entered into an agreement with the defendant Seven Brothers whereby the latter undertook to load the former's 940 lauan logs for shipment to Manila.
South Sea insured the logs for P2,000,000.00 in its marine policy. Valenzuela then gave the check in payment of the premium on the insurance policy to Mr. Victorio Chua.
Seven Brothers’ ship sank resulting in the loss of the logs.
A check for P5,625.00 to cover payment of the premium tendered to the insurer but was not accepted. Instead, the South Sea Surety and Insurance Co., Inc. cancelled the insurance policy it issued as of the date of inception for non-payment of the premium due in accordance with Section 77 of the Insurance Code.
Valenzuela demanded from South Sea the payment of the proceeds of the policy but the latter denied liability under the policy. Plaintiff likewise filed a formal claim with defendant Seven Brothers Shipping Corporation for the value of the lost logs but the latter denied the claim.
Valenzuela filed a complaint a complaint for the recovery of the value of lost logs and freight charges from Seven Brothers Shipping Corporation or from South Sea Surety and Insurance Company, the insurer.
The trial court rendered judgment in favor of plaintiff Valenzuela. The Court of Appeals affirmed the judgment only against the insurance corporation and absolved the shipping entity from liability. The court held that there was a stipulation in the charter party exempted the ship owner from liability in case of loss.
In the SC petition, petitioner argues that it should have been freed from any liability to Hardwood. It faults the appellate court (a) for having disregarded Section 77 of the insurance Code and (b) for holding Victorio Chua to have been an authorized representative of the insurer.

WON Mr. Chua acted as an agent of the surety company or of the insured when he received the check for insurance premiums.

Held: Agent of the surety. Petition denied.

To determine if there was a valid contract of insurance, it must be determine if the premium was validly paid to the company or its agents at the time of the loss.
The appellate and trial courts have found that Chua acted as an agent.
South Sea insisted that Chua has been an agent for less than ten years of the Columbia Insurance Brokers, a different company. Appellant argued that Mr. Chua, having received the premiums, acted as an agent under Section 301 of the Insurance Code which provides:
Sec. 301. Any person who for any compensation, commission or other thing of value, acts, or aids in soliciting, negotiating or procuring the making of any insurance contract or in placing risk or taking out insurance, on behalf of an insured other than himself, shall be an insurance broker within the intent of this Code, and shall thereby become liable to all the duties requirements, liabilities and penalties to which an insurance broker is subject.
Valenzuela claimed that the second paragraph of Section 306 of the Insurance Code provided:
Sec. 306 Any insurance company which delivers to an insurance agent or insurance broker a policy or contract of insurance shall be deemed to have authorized such agent or broker to receive on its behalf payment of any premium which is due on such policy of contract of insurance at the time of its issuance or delivery or which becomes due thereon.
Mr. Chua testified that the marine cargo insurance policy logs was by South Sea to be given to the wood company.
When South Sea delivered to Mr. Chua the marine cargo insurance policy for Valenzuela’s logs, he is deemed to have been authorized by former to receive the premium which is due on its behalf.
When the logs were lost, the insured had already paid the premium to an agent of the South Sea Surety and Insurance Co., Inc., which is consequently liable to pay the insurance proceeds under the policy it issued to the insured.
The court followed the factual evidence of the lower courts and held that they didn’t try questions of fact.

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