Thursday, July 12, 2012

Tai Tong v Insurance G.R. No. L-55397 February 29, 1988

J. Gancayco

Azucena Palomo obtained a loan from Tai Tong Chuache Inc. in the amount of P100,000.00. To secure the payment of the loan, a mortgage was executed over the land and the building in favor of Tai Tong Chuache & Co. Arsenio Chua, representative of Thai Tong Chuache & Co. insured the latter's interest with Travellers Multi-Indemnity Corporation for P100,000.00 (P70,000.00 for the building and P30,000.00 for the contents thereof)
Pedro Palomo secured a Fire Insurance Policy covering the building for P50,000.00 with respondent Zenith Insurance Corporation. On July 16, 1975, another Fire Insurance was procured from respondent Philippine British Assurance Company, covering the same building for P50,000.00 and the contents thereof for P70,000.00.
The building and the contents were totally razed by fire.
Based on the computation of the loss, including the Travellers Multi- Indemnity, respondents, Zenith Insurance, Phil. British Assurance and S.S.S. Accredited Group of Insurers, paid their corresponding shares of the loss. Complainants were paid the following: P41,546.79 by Philippine British Assurance Co., P11,877.14 by Zenith Insurance Corporation, and P5,936.57 by S.S.S. Group of Accredited Insurers Demand was made from respondent Travellers Multi-Indemnity for its share in the loss but the same was refused. Hence, complainants demanded from the other three (3) respondents the balance of each share in the loss in the amount of P30,894.31 (P5,732.79-Zenith Insurance: P22,294.62, Phil. British: and P2,866.90, SSS Accredited) but the same was refused, hence, this action.
In their answers, Philippine British Assurance and Zenith Insurance Corporation denied liability on the ground that the claim of the complainants had already been waived, extinguished or paid. Both companies set up counterclaim in the total amount of P 91,546.79.
SSS Accredited Group of Insurers informed the Commission that the claim of complainants for the balance had been paid in the amount in full.
Travellers Insurance, on its part, admitted the issuance of a Policy and alleged defenses  that Fire Policy, covering the furniture and building of complainants was secured by a certain Arsenio Chua and that the premium due on the fire policy was paid by Arsenio Chua.
Tai Tong Chuache & Co. also  filed a complaint in intervention claiming the proceeds of the fire Insurance Policy issued by respondent Travellers Multi-Indemnity.
As adverted to above respondent Insurance Commission dismissed spouses Palomos' complaint on the ground that the insurance policy subject of the complaint was taken out by Tai Tong Chuache & Company, for its own interest only as mortgagee of the insured property and thus complainant as mortgagors of the insured property have no right of action against the respondent. It likewise dismissed petitioner's complaint in intervention in the following words:
From the above decision, only intervenor Tai Tong Chuache filed a motion for reconsideration but it was likewise denied hence, the present petition.

Issue: WON Tai Tong had insurable interest

Held: Yes. Petition granted.

Respondent advanced an affirmative defense of lack of insurable interest on the part of the petitioner that before the occurrence of the peril insured against, the Palomos had already paid their credit due the petitioner. However, they were never able to prove that Tai had a lack of insurable interest. Hence, the decision must be adverse against them.
However respondent Insurance Commission absolved respondent insurance company from liability on the basis of the certification issued by the then Court of First Instance of Davao, Branch II, that in a certain civil action against the Palomos, Arsenio Lopez Chua stands as the complainant and not Tai Tong Chuache.
From said evidence respondent commission inferred that the credit extended by petitioner to the Palomos secured by the insured property must have been paid. These findings was based upon a mere inference.
The record of the case shows that the petitioner to support its claim for the insurance proceeds offered as evidence the contract of mortgage which has not been cancelled nor released. It has been held in a long line of cases that when the creditor is in possession of the document of credit, he need not prove non-payment for it is presumed. The validity of the insurance policy taken by petitioner was not assailed by private respondent. Moreover, petitioner's claim that the loan extended to the Palomos has not yet been paid was corroborated by Azucena Palomo who testified that they are still indebted to herein petitioner.
Public respondent argues however, that if the civil case really stemmed from the loan granted to Azucena Palomo by petitioner the same should have been brought by Tai Tong Chuache or by its representative in its own behalf. From the above premise, respondent concluded that the obligation secured by the insured property must have been paid. However, it should be borne in mind that petitioner being a partnership may sue and be sued in its name or by its duly authorized representative. Petitioner's declaration that Arsenio Lopez Chua acts as the managing partner of the partnership was corroborated by respondent insurance company.  Thus Chua as the managing partner of the partnership may execute all acts of administration including the right to sue debtors of the partnership in case of their failure to pay their obligations when it became due and demandable. Public respondent's allegation that the civil case flied by Arsenio Chua was in his capacity as personal creditor of spouses Palomo has no basis. The policy, then had legal force and effect.

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