White Gold vs Pioneer Insurance (G.R. No. 154514. July 28, 2005)

White Gold Marine Services Inc. Vs Pioneer Insurance and Surety Corporation
G.R. No. 154514. July 28, 2005

Facts: White Gold Marine Services, Inc. (White Gold) procured a protection and indemnity coverage for its vessels from The Steamship Mutual Underwriting Association (Bermuda) Limited (Steamship Mutual) through Pioneer Insurance and Surety Corporation (Pioneer). Subsequently, White Gold was issued a Certificate of Entry and Acceptance. Pioneer also issued receipts evidencing payments for the coverage. When White Gold failed to fully pay its accounts, Steamship Mutual refused to renew the coverage.Steamship Mutual thereafter filed a case against White Gold for collection of sum of money to recover the latter’s unpaid balance. White Gold on the other hand, filed a complaint before the Insurance Commission claiming that Steamship Mutual violated Sections 186[4] and 187[5] of the Insurance Code, while Pioneer violated Sections 299 300 and 301 in relation to Sections 302 and 303, thereof. The Insurance Commission dismissed the complaint. It said that there was no need for Steamship Mutual to secure a license because it was not engaged in the insurance business. It explained that Steamship Mutual was a Protection and Indemnity Club (P & I Club). Likewise, Pioneer need not obtain another license as insurance agent and/or a broker for Steamship Mutual because Steamship Mutual was not engaged in the insurance business. Moreover, Pioneer was already licensed, hence, a separate license solely as agent/broker of Steamship Mutual was already superfluous.

Issues: Whether or not the contract entered into by the parties is an insurance contract.

Whether or not Pioneer is required to obtain a separate license as an insurance agent.

Held: Yes. The test to determine if a contract is an insurance contract or not, depends on the nature of the promise, the act required to be performed, and the exact nature of the agreement in the light of the occurrence, contingency, or circumstances under which the performance becomes requisite. It is not by what it is called.

Basically, an insurance contract is a contract of indemnity. In it, one undertakes for a consideration to indemnify another against loss, damage or liability arising from an unknown or contingent event.

In particular, a marine insurance undertakes to indemnify the assured against marine losses, such as the losses incident to a marine adventure. Section 99 of the Insurance Code enumerates the coverage of marine insurance.

Relatedly, a mutual insurance company is a cooperative enterprise where the members are both the insurer and insured. In it, the members all contribute, by a system of premiums or assessments, to the creation of a fund from which all losses and liabilities are paid, and where the profits are divided among themselves, in proportion to their interest. Additionally, mutual insurance associations, or clubs, provide three types of coverage, namely, protection and indemnity, war risks, and defense costs.

A P & I Club is a form of insurance against third party liability, where the third party is anyone other than the P & I Club and the members. By definition then, Steamship Mutual as a P & I Club is a mutual insurance association engaged in the marine insurance business.

Since a contract of insurance involves public interest, regulation by the State is necessary. Thus, no insurer or insurance company is allowed to engage in the insurance business without a license or a certificate of authority from the Insurance Commission.

Yes. Pioneer is the resident agent of Steamship Mutual as evidenced by the certificate of registration[22] issued by the Insurance Commission. It has been licensed to do or transact insurance business by virtue of the certificate of authority issued by the same agency. However, a Certification from the Commission states that Pioneer does not have a separate license to be an agent/broker of Steamship Mutual.

Although Pioneer is already licensed as an insurance company, it needs a separate license to act as insurance agent for Steamship Mutual. Section 299 of the Insurance Code clearly states:

No person shall act as an insurance agent or as an insurance broker in the solicitation or procurement of applications for insurance, or receive for services in obtaining insurance, any commission or other compensation from any insurance company doing business in the Philippines or any agent thereof, without first procuring a license so to act from the Commissioner, which must be renewed annually on the first day of January, or within six months thereafter.

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