FACTS: On May 13, 1996, Malayan Insurance Company (Malayan) issued Fire Insurance Policy No. F-00227-000073 to PAP Co., Ltd. (PAP Co.) for the latter’s machineries and equipment located at Sanyo Precision Phils. Bldg., Phase III, Lot 4, Block 15, PEZA, Rosario, Cavite (Sanyo Building). The insurance, which was for Fifteen Million Pesos (P15,000,000.00) and effective for a period of one (1) year, was procured by PAP Co. for Rizal Commercial Banking Corporation (RCBC), the mortgagee of the insured machineries and equipment.

After the passage of almost a year but prior to the expiration of the insurance coverage, PAP Co. renewed the policy on an “as is” basis. Pursuant thereto, a renewal policy, Fire Insurance Policy No. F-00227-000079, was issued by Malayan to PAP Co. for the period May 13, 1997 to May 13, 1998. 

On October 12, 1997 and during the subsistence of the renewal policy, the insured machineries and equipment were totally lost by fire. Hence, PAP Co. filed a fire insurance claim with Malayan in the amount insured.

In a letter, dated December 15, 1997, Malayan denied the claim upon the ground that, at the time of the loss, the insured machineries and equipment were transferred by PAP Co. to a location different from that indicated in the policy. Specifically, that the insured machineries were transferred in September 1996 from the Sanyo Building to the Pace Pacific Bldg., Lot 14, Block 14, Phase III, PEZA, Rosario, Cavite (Pace Pacific). Contesting the denial, PAP Co. argued that Malayan cannot avoid liability as it was informed of the transfer by RCBC, the party duty-bound to relay such information. However, Malayan reiterated its denial of PAP Co.’s claim. Distraught, PAP Co. filed the complaint below against Malayan.

ISSUE: WON MALAYAN IS LIABLE.

HELD: NO. Condition No. 9 (c) of the renewal policy provides:

9. Under any of the following circumstances the insurance ceases to attach as regards the property affected unless the insured, before the occurrence of any loss or damage, obtains the sanction of the company signified by endorsement upon the policy, by or on behalf of the Company:

xxx xxx xxx

(c) If property insured be removed to any building or place other than in that which is herein stated to be insured.

Evidently, by the clear and express condition in the renewal policy, the removal of the insured property to any building or place required the consent of Malayan. Any transfer effected by the insured, without the insurer’s consent, would free the latter from any liability.

The records are bereft of any convincing and concrete evidence that Malayan was notified of the transfer of the insured properties from the Sanyo factory to the Pace factory. The Court has combed the records and found nothing that would show that Malayan was duly notified of the transfer of the insured properties.

What PAP did to prove that Malayan was notified was to show that it relayed the fact of transfer to RCBC, the entity which made the referral and the named beneficiary in the policy. Malayan and RCBC might have been sister companies, but such fact did not make one an agent of the other. The fact that RCBC referred PAP to Malayan did not clothe it with authority to represent and bind the said insurance company. After the referral, PAP dealt directly with Malayan.

The Court agrees with Malayan that the transfer to the Pace Factory exposed the properties to a hazardous environment and negatively affected the fire rating stated in the renewal policy. The increase in tariff rate from 0.449% to 0.657% put the subject properties at a greater risk of loss. Such increase in risk would necessarily entail an increase in the premium payment on the fire policy.

Unfortunately, PAP chose to remain completely silent on this very crucial point. Despite the importance of the issue, PAP failed to refute Malayan’s argument on the increased risk.

Considering that the original policy was renewed on an “as is basis,” it follows that the renewal policy carried with it the same stipulations and limitations. The terms and conditions in the renewal policy provided, among others, that the location of the risk insured against is at the Sanyo factory in PEZA. The subject insured properties, however, were totally burned at the Pace Factory. Although it was also located in PEZA, Pace Factory was not the location stipulated in the renewal policy. There being an unconsented removal, the transfer was at PAP’s own risk. Consequently, it must suffer the consequences of the fire. Thus, the Court agrees with the report of Cunningham Toplis Philippines, Inc., an international loss adjuster which investigated the fire incident at the Pace Factory, which opined that “[g]iven that the location of risk covered under the policy is not the location affected, the policy will, therefore, not respond to this loss/claim.”

It can also be said that with the transfer of the location of the subject properties, without notice and without Malayan’s consent, after the renewal of the policy, PAP clearly committed concealment, misrepresentation and a breach of a material warranty. Section 26 of the Insurance Code provides:

Section 26. A neglect to communicate that which a party knows and ought to communicate, is called a concealment.

Under Section 27 of the Insurance Code, “a concealment entitles the injured party to rescind a contract of insurance.”

Moreover, under Section 168 of the Insurance Code, the insurer is entitled to rescind the insurance contract in case of an alteration in the use or condition of the thing insured. Section 168 of the Insurance Code provides, as follows: TAECaD

Section 68. An alteration in the use or condition of a thing insured from that to which it is limited by the policy made without the consent of the insurer, by means within the control of the insured, and increasing the risks, entitles an insurer to rescind a contract of fire insurance.

Accordingly, an insurer can exercise its right to rescind an insurance contract when the following conditions are present, to wit:

1) the policy limits the use or condition of the thing insured;

2) there is an alteration in said use or condition;

3) the alteration is without the consent of the insurer;

4) the alteration is made by means within the insured’s control; and

5) the alteration increases the risk of loss.

In the case at bench, all these circumstances are present. It was clearly established that the renewal policy stipulated that the insured properties were located at the Sanyo factory; that PAP removed the properties without the consent of Malayan; and that the alteration of the location increased the risk of loss.

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