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Republic of the Philippines SUPREME COURT Manila FIRST DIVISION G.R. No.

125678 March 18, 2002

PHILAMCARE HEALTH SYSTEMS, INC., petitioner, vs. COURT OF APPEALS and JULITA TRINOS, respondents. YNARES-SANTIAGO, J.: Ernani Trinos, deceased husband of respondent Julita Trinos, applied for a health care coverage with petitioner Philamcare Health Systems, Inc. In the standard application form, he answered no to the following question: Have you or any of your family members ever consulted or been treated for high blood pressure, heart trouble, diabetes, cancer, liver disease, asthma or peptic ulcer? (If Yes, give details).1 The application was approved for a period of one year from March 1, 1988 to March 1, 1989. Accordingly, he was issued Health Care Agreement No. P010194. Under the agreement, respondent’s husband was entitled to avail of hospitalization benefits, whether ordinary or emergency, listed therein. He was also entitled to avail of "out-patient benefits" such as annual physical examinations, preventive health care and other out-patient services. Upon the termination of the agreement, the same was extended for another year from March 1, 1989 to March 1, 1990, then from March 1, 1990 to June 1, 1990. The amount of coverage was increased to a maximum sum of P75,000.00 per disability.2 During the period of his coverage, Ernani suffered a heart attack and was confined at the

Manila Medical Center (MMC) for one month beginning March 9, 1990. While her husband was in the hospital, respondent tried to claim the benefits under the health care agreement. However, petitioner denied her claim saying that the Health Care Agreement was void. According to petitioner, there was a concealment regarding Ernani’s medical history. Doctors at the MMC allegedly discovered at the time of Ernani’s confinement that he was hypertensive, diabetic and asthmatic, contrary to his answer in the application form. Thus, respondent paid the hospitalization expenses herself, amounting to about P76,000.00. After her husband was discharged from the MMC, he was attended by a physical therapist at home. Later, he was admitted at the Chinese General Hospital. Due to financial difficulties, however, respondent brought her husband home again. In the morning of April 13, 1990, Ernani had fever and was feeling very weak. Respondent was constrained to bring him back to the Chinese General Hospital where he died on the same day. On July 24, 1990, respondent instituted with the Regional Trial Court of Manila, Branch 44, an action for damages against petitioner and its president, Dr. Benito Reverente, which was docketed as Civil Case No. 90-53795. She asked for reimbursement of her expenses plus moral damages and attorney’s fees. After trial, the lower court ruled against petitioners, viz: WHEREFORE, in view of the forgoing, the Court renders judgment in favor of the plaintiff Julita Trinos, ordering: 1. Defendants to pay and reimburse the medical and hospital coverage of the late Ernani Trinos in the amount of P76,000.00 plus interest, until the amount is fully paid to plaintiff who paid the same; 2. Defendants to pay the reduced amount of moral damages of P10,000.00 to plaintiff;
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Defendants to pay the reduced amount of P10.00 as exemplary damages to plaintiff. 4. hence the "incontestability clause" under the Insurance Code6 does not apply. raising the primary argument that a health care agreement is not an insurance contract. (2) of any person on whom he depends wholly or in part for education or support. The insured has an insurable interest. In the case at bar. and 5.4 Petitioner’s motion for reconsideration was denied. but a Health Maintenance Organization under the authority of the Department of Health. The health care agreement was in the nature of non-life insurance. An insurance contract exists where the following elements concur: . which is governed by the Insurance Commission. SO ORDERED. respecting property or service.00. of his spouse and of his children. Section 10 provides: Every person has an insurable interest in the life and health: (1) of himself.8 Section 3 of the Insurance Code states that any contingent or unknown event. 3.5 Hence. the insurable interest of respondent’s husband in obtaining the health care agreement was his own health. the Court of Appeals affirmed the decision of the trial court but deleted all awards for damages and absolved petitioner Reverente." such as medical check-ups and hospitalization which a member may immediately enjoy so long as he is alive upon effectivity of the agreement until its expiration one-year thereafter. petitioner brought the instant petition for review.nêt Petitioner argues that the agreement grants "living benefits. Section 2 (1) of the Insurance Code defines a contract of insurance as an agreement whereby one undertakes for a consideration to indemnify another against loss. Petitioner further argues that it is not an insurance company. Such assumption of risk is part of a general scheme to distribute actual losses among a large group of persons bearing a similar risk. damage or liability arising from an unknown or contingent event. Defendants to pay attorney’s fees of P20. as compared to insurance contracts which last longer. Every person has an insurable interest in the life and health of himself. Moreover. Petitioner also points out that only medical and hospitalization benefits are given under the agreement without any indemnification. as the same requires an effectivity period of at least two years. since Health Care Agreements are only for a period of one year. (3) of any person under a legal obligation to him for the payment of money. and (4) of any person upon whose life any estate or interest vested in him depends. may be insured against. the insured pays a premium. whether past or future.3.1âwphi1. 4. which is primarily a contract 2 On appeal. 2. The insured is subject to a risk of loss by the happening of the designated peril. unlike in an insurance contract where the insured is indemnified for his loss. of which death or illness might delay or prevent the performance. or in whom he has a pecuniary interest. The insurer assumes the risk. In consideration of the insurer’s promise. 3 1.000. plus costs of suit. which may damnify a person having an insurable interest against him.7 petitioner argues that the incontestability clause does not apply.000.

that no information acquired by any Representative of PhilamCare shall be binding upon PhilamCare unless set out in writing in the application. especially coming from respondent’s husband who was not a medical doctor. Inc. This largely depends on opinion rather than fact. petitioners required respondent’s husband to sign an express authorization for any person. that there shall be no contract of health care coverage unless and until an Agreement is issued on this application and the full Membership Fee according to the mode of payment applied for is actually paid during the lifetime and good health of proposed Members. consultation. treatment or any other medical advice or examination. the health care provider must pay for the same to the extent agreed upon under the contract. by these presents. This authorization is in connection with the application for health care coverage only. Where matters of opinion 3 . treatment or any other medical advice or examination. expressly authorized to disclose or give testimony at anytime relative to any information acquired by him in his professional capacity upon any question affecting the eligibility for health care coverage of the Proposed Members and that the acceptance of any Agreement issued on this application shall be a ratification of any correction in or addition to this application as stated in the space for Home Office Endorsement. consultation.of indemnity. injury or other stipulated contingent.12 (Underscoring ours) Petitioner cannot rely on the stipulation regarding "Invalidation of agreement" which reads: Failure to disclose or misrepresentation of any material information by the member in the application or medical examination. thus: I hereby authorize any person. A photographic copy of this authorization shall be as valid as the original. medical or any other expense arising from sickness. any and all information relative to any hospitalization. whether intentional or unintentional.11 (Underscoring ours) In addition to the above condition. It appears that in the application for health coverage. Petitioner argues that respondent’s husband concealed a material fact in his application. organization or entity that has any record or knowledge of his health to furnish any and all information relative to any hospitalization. complete and true and bind all parties in interest under the Agreement herein applied for. An undisclosed or misrepresented information is deemed material if its revelation would have resulted in the declination of the applicant by Philamcare or the assessment of a higher Membership Fee for the benefit or benefits applied for. organization.9 Once the member incurs hospital.13 The answer assailed by petitioner was in response to the question relating to the medical history of the applicant. shall automatically invalidate the Agreement from the very beginning and liability of Philamcare shall be limited to return of all Membership Fees paid. the Health Care Agreement signed by respondent’s husband states: We hereby declare and agree that all statement and answers contained herein and in any addendum annexed to this application are full. petitioner additionally required the applicant for authorization to inquire about the applicant’s medical history.10 Specifically. or entity that has any record or knowledge of my health and/or that of __________ to give to the PhilamCare Health Systems.that any physician is.

and exclusionary clauses of doubtful import should be strictly construed against the provider. if the statement is obviously of the foregoing character.or judgment are called for. such as the one at bar. In any case. Notice must be based on the occurrence after effective date of the policy of one or more of the grounds mentioned. that which he then knows. opinion. Prior notice of cancellation to insured. petitioner is bound to answer the same to the extent agreed upon.16 Concealment as a defense for the health care provider or insurer to avoid liability is an affirmative defense and the duty to establish such defense by satisfactory and convincing evidence rests upon the provider or insurer. Must be in writing. ambiguity must be strictly interpreted against the insurer and liberally in favor of the insured. or its acceptance at a lower rate of premium. 3. since in such case the intent to deceive the insurer is obvious and amounts to actual fraud.22 4 . In the end. especially to avoid forfeiture. The phraseology used in medical or hospital service contracts. since in such case the insurer is not justified in relying upon such statement. answers made in good faith and without intent to deceive will not avoid a policy even though they are untrue. must be liberally construed in favor of the subscriber. courts should construe them in such a way as to preclude the insurer from non-compliance with his obligation. and if doubtful or reasonably susceptible of two interpretations the construction conferring coverage is to be adopted. to be actually untrue. and this is likewise the rule although the statement is material to the risk. the cancellation of health care agreements as in insurance policies require the concurrence of the following conditions: 1.20 By reason of the exclusive control of the insurance company over the terms and phraseology of the insurance contract. the terms of an insurance contract are to be construed strictly against the party which prepared the contract – the insurer. to furnish facts on which cancellation is based.14 Thus. or judgment of the insured will not avoid the policy if there is no actual fraud in inducing the acceptance of the risk. (A)lthough false." The right to rescind should be exercised previous to the commencement of an action on the contract. a representation of the expectation. Must state the grounds relied upon provided in Section 64 of the Insurance Code and upon request of insured. as a matter of expectation or belief. 4.17 In this case. belief.18 None of the above pre-conditions was fulfilled in this case. petitioner is liable for claims made under the contract. or the impossibility of which is shown by the facts within his knowledge. intention. Under Section 27 of the Insurance Code. but is obligated to make further inquiry. There is a clear distinction between such a case and one in which the insured is fraudulently and intentionally states to be true.15 (Underscoring ours) The fraudulent intent on the part of the insured must be established to warrant rescission of the insurance contract. 2. Besides. Having assumed a responsibility under the agreement.19 Being a contract of adhesion. the liability of the health care provider attaches once the member is hospitalized for the disease or injury covered by the agreement or whenever he avails of the covered benefits which he has prepaid. with or without the authority to investigate. mailed or delivered to the insured at the address shown in the policy. When the terms of insurance contract contain limitations on liability. "a concealment entitles the injured party to rescind a contract of insurance.21 This is equally applicable to Health Care Agreements. no rescission was made.

Both decisions held that there was no violation of the Insurance Code and the respondents do not need license as insurer and insurance agent/broker. When White Gold failed to fully pay its accounts. White Gold Marine Services. DECISION QUISUMBING. 154514. the defense of concealment or misrepresentation no longer lie.: This petition for review assails [1] the Decision dated July 30. affirming the Decision[2] dated May 3. The facts are undisputed. the petition is DENIED. FIRST DIVISION WHITE GOLD MARINE SERVICES. 2002 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G. in view of the foregoing.R. and six months from the issuance of the agreement if the patient was sick of diabetes or hypertension. we quote with approval the following findings of the trial court: (U)nder the title Claim procedures of expenses. The Insurance Commission dismissed the complaint. PIONEER INSURANCE AND SURETY CORPORATION AND THE STEAMSHIP MUTUAL UNDERWRITING ASSOCIATION (BERMUDA) LTD. RD-277. Steamship Mutual refused to renew the coverage. J.23 Finally. the deceased was previously married to another woman who was still alive. Case No. petitioner alleges that respondent was not the legal wife of the deceased member considering that at the time of their marriage. The health care agreement is in the nature of a contract of indemnity.[3] Pioneer also issued receipts evidencing payments for the coverage. vs. payment should be made to the party who incurred the expenses. SP No. 2005] . Adm. It is not controverted that respondent paid all the hospital and medical expenses. White Gold was issued a Certificate of Entry and Acceptance. the defendant Philamcare Health Systems Inc. She is therefore entitled to reimbursement. Steamship Mutual thereafter filed a case against White Gold for collection of sum of money to recover the latter’s unpaid balance. Subsequently. It explained that Steamship Mutual was a 5 [G.Anent the incontestability of the membership of respondent’s husband. 1995 is AFFIRMED.24 WHEREFORE. It said that there was no need for Steamship Mutual to secure a license because it was not engaged in the insurance business. thereof. White Gold on the other hand. 2000 of the Insurance Commission in I.. 60144. Hence. The periods having expired.[6] 300[7] and 301[8] in relation to Sections 302 and 303.C. respondents. SO ORDERED. medication and the professional fees of the attending physicians. filed a complaint before the Insurance Commission claiming that Steamship Mutual violated Sections 186[4] and 187[5] of the Insurance Code. had twelve months from the date of issuance of the Agreement within which to contest the membership of the patient if he had previous ailment of asthma. No. The records adequately prove the expenses incurred by respondent for the deceased’s hospitalization.. The assailed decision of the Court of Appeals dated December 14. petitioner. while Pioneer violated Sections 299. July 28.R. 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). INC.

Petitioner insists that Steamship Mutual as a P & I Club is engaged in the insurance business. THAT RESPONDENT PIONEER NEED NOT SECURE A LICENSE WHEN CONDUCTING ITS AFFAIR AS AN AGENT/BROKER OF RESPONDENT STEAMSHIP. it has engaged the services of Pioneer to act as its agent.[9] Simply. Court of Appeals[10] as “an association composed of shipowners in general who band together for the specific purpose of providing insurance cover on a mutual basis against liabilities incidental to shipowning that the members incur in favor of third parties. The Court of Appeals affirmed the decision of the Insurance Commissioner. The appellate court also held that Pioneer merely acted as a collection agent of Steamship Mutual. engaged in the insurance business in the Philippines? (2) Does Pioneer need a license as an insurance agent/broker for Steamship Mutual? The parties admit that Steamship Mutual is a P & I Club. In this petition. it cites the definition of a P & I Club in Hyopsung Maritime Co. Pioneer was already licensed. . . v. petitioner assigns the following errors allegedly committed by the appellate court. a P & I Club. In its decision. ITS TRANSACTIONS THROUGH ITS AGENT AND/OR BROKER HENCE AS AN INSURER IT NEED NOT SECURE A LICENSE TO ENGAGE IN INSURANCE BUSINESS IN THE PHILIPPINES.[11] Respondents aver Hyopsung is inapplicable in this case because the issue in Hyopsung was the jurisdiction of the court over Hyopsung. it is not engaged in the insurance business in the Philippines. the appellate court distinguished between P & I Clubs vis-à-vis conventional insurance.” It stresses that as a P & I Club.. This relationship is reflected in the certifications issued by the Insurance Commission. THIRD ASSIGNMENT OF ERROR THE COURT A QUO ERRED WHEN IT RULED. Respondents contend that although Steamship Mutual is a P & I Club. Moreover. the basic issues before us are (1) Is Steamship Mutual. Likewise. Steamship Mutual’s primary purpose is to solicit and provide protection and indemnity coverage and for this purpose. 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. FOURTH ASSIGNMENT OF ERROR THE COURT A QUO ERRED IN NOT REVOKING THE LICENSE OF RESPONDENT PIONEER AND [IN NOT REMOVING] THE OFFICERS AND DIRECTORS OF RESPONDENT PIONEER. To buttress its assertion. Is Steamship Mutual engaged in the insurance business? 6 . FIRST ASSIGNMENT OF ERROR THE COURT A QUO ERRED WHEN IT RULED THAT RESPONDENT STEAMSHIP IS NOT DOING BUSINESS IN THE PHILIPPINES ON THE GROUND THAT IT COURSED . SECOND ASSIGNMENT OF ERROR THE COURT A QUO ERRED WHEN IT RULED THAT THE RECORD IS BEREFT OF ANY EVIDENCE THAT RESPONDENT STEAMSHIP IS ENGAGED IN INSURANCE BUSINESS.Protection and Indemnity Club (P & I Club). It is merely an association of vessel owners who have come together to provide mutual protection against liabilities incidental to shipowning. Ltd. a separate license solely as agent/broker of Steamship Mutual was already superfluous. Steamship Mutual admits it does not have a license to do business in the Philippines although Pioneer is its resident agent. hence.

as surety. It maintains a resident agent in the Philippines to solicit insurance and to collect payments in its behalf.Section 2(2) of the Insurance Code enumerates what constitutes “doing an insurance business” or “transacting an insurance business”.[21] Does Pioneer. Relatedly. to continue doing business here. damage or liability arising from an unknown or contingent event. specifically recognized as constituting the doing of an insurance business within the meaning of this Code. mutual insurance associations.[18] A P & I Club is “a form of insurance against third party liability. (d) doing or proposing to do any business in substance equivalent to any of the foregoing in a manner designed to evade the provisions of this Code. regulation by the State is necessary. (b) making. such as the losses incident to a marine adventure. In it. agreements or transactions. . It is not by what it is called. contingency. including a reinsurance business. (c) doing any kind of business. Steamship Mutual or through its agent Pioneer.[13] Basically. depends on the nature of the promise. a marine insurance undertakes to indemnify the assured against marine losses. need a special license? of 7 . by a system of premiums or assessments. an insurance contract is a contract of indemnity. the members all contribute. to the creation of a fund from which all losses and liabilities are paid. and defense costs. or that no separate or direct consideration is received therefor. . Steamship Mutual as a P & I Club is a mutual insurance association engaged in the marine insurance business. the fact that no profit is derived from the making of insurance contracts. any contract of suretyship as a vocation and not as merely incidental to any other legitimate business or activity of the surety. and the exact nature of the agreement in the light of the occurrence. the act required to be performed. in proportion to their interest. or proposing to make. shall not preclude the existence of an insurance business. a mutual insurance company is a cooperative enterprise where the members are both the insurer and insured. protection and indemnity. Since a contract of insurance involves public interest. any insurance contract. Thus. . where the third party is anyone other than the P & I Club and the members. provide three types of coverage.[17] Additionally. must secure a license from the Insurance Commission. Thus. The same provision also provides. In it.[14] In particular. We note that Steamship Mutual even renewed its P & I Club cover until it was cancelled due to non-payment of the calls. These are: (a) making or proposing to make.[15] Section 99[16] of the Insurance Code enumerates the coverage of marine insurance. and where the profits are divided among themselves. as insurer.”[19] By definition then.[12] The test to determine if a contract is an insurance contract or not. as agent/broker Steamship Mutual. 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. or circumstances under which the performance becomes requisite. namely. or clubs. one undertakes for a consideration to indemnify another against loss. war risks. The records reveal Steamship Mutual is doing business in the country albeit without the requisite certificate of authority mandated by Section 187[20] of the Insurance Code.

No person shall act as an insurance agent or as an insurance broker in the solicitation or procurement of applications for insurance. is DENIED. . Regrettably. it needs a separate license to act as insurance agent for Steamship Mutual. Section 299 of the Insurance Code clearly states: SEC. Finally. SO ORDERED. . The Steamship Mutual Underwriting Association (Bermuda) Ltd.. the petition is PARTIALLY GRANTED. a Certification from the Commission states that Pioneer does not have a separate license to be an agent/broker of Steamship Mutual. which must be renewed annually on the first day of January. It has been licensed to do or transact insurance business by virtue of the certificate of authority[23] issued by the same agency. or receive for services in obtaining insurance. The Decision dated July 30. 299 . However. 2000 of the Insurance Commission is hereby REVERSED AND SET ASIDE. White Gold seeks revocation of Pioneer’s certificate of authority and removal of its directors and officers. and Pioneer Insurance and Surety Corporation are ORDERED to obtain licenses and to secure proper authorizations to do business as insurer and insurance agent. . WHEREFORE.Pioneer is the resident agent of Steamship Mutual as evidenced by the certificate of registration[22] issued by the Insurance Commission. 2002 of the Court of Appeals affirming the Decision dated May 3. respectively. any commission or other compensation from any insurance company doing business in the Philippines or any agent thereof. Costs against respondents.[24] Although Pioneer is already licensed as an insurance company. we are not the forum for these issues. 8 . without first procuring a license so to act from the Commissioner. . The petitioner’s prayer for the revocation of Pioneer’s Certificate of Authority and removal of its directors and officers. or within six months thereafter.