343 Phil. 488
1. Petitioner-spouses Nilo Cha and Stella Uy-Cha, as lessees, entered into a lease contract with private respondent CKS Development Corporation (hereinafter CKS), as lessor, on 5 October 1988.“18. x x x. The LESSEE shall not insure against fire the chattels, merchandise, textiles, goods and effects placed at any stall or store or space in the leased premises without first obtaining the written consent and approval of the LESSOR. If the LESSEE obtain(s) the insurance thereof without the consent of the LESSOR then the policy is deemed assigned and transferred to the LESSOR for its own benefit; x x x”
2. One of the stipulations of the one (1) year lease contract states:
3. Notwithstanding the above stipulation in the lease contract, the Cha spouses insured against loss by fire their merchandise inside the leased premises for Five Hundred Thousand (P500,000.00) with the United Insurance Co., Inc. (hereinafter United) without the written consent of private respondents CKS.In the present petition, the following errors are assigned by petitioners to the Court of Appeals:
4. On the day that the lease contract was to expire, fire broke out inside the leased premises.
5. When CKS learned of the insurance earlier procured by the Cha spouses (without its consent), it wrote the insurer (United) a demand letter asking that the proceeds of the insurance contract (between the Cha spouses and United) be paid directly to CKS, based on its lease contract with Cha spouses.
6. United refused to pay CKS. Hence, the latter filed a complaint against the Cha spouses and United.
7. On 2 June 1992, the Regional Trial Court, Branch 6, Manila, rendered a decision* ordering therein defendant United to pay CKS the amount of P335,063.11 and defendant Cha spouses to pay P50,000.00 as exemplary damages, P20,000.00 as attorney’s fees and costs of suit.
8. On appeal, respondent Court of Appeals in CA GR CV No. 39328 rendered a decision** dated 11 January 1996, affirming the trial court decision, deleting however the awards for exemplary damages and attorney’s fees. A motion for reconsideration by United was denied on 29 March 1996.
“Sec. 18. No contract or policy of insurance on property shall be enforceable except for the benefit of some person having an insurable interest in the property insured.”A non-life insurance policy such as the fire insurance policy taken by petitioner-spouses over their merchandise is primarily a contract of indemnity. Insurable interest in the property insured must exist at the time the insurance takes effect and at the time the loss occurs. The basis of such requirement of insurable interest in property insured is based on sound public policy: to prevent a person from taking out an insurance policy on property upon which he has no insurable interest and collecting the proceeds of said policy in case of loss of the property. In such a case, the contract of insurance is a mere wager which is void under Section 25 of the Insurance Code, which provides:
“SECTION 25. Every stipulation in a policy of Insurance for the payment of loss, whether the person insured has or has not any interest in the property insured, or that the policy shall be received as proof of such interest, and every policy executed by way of gaming or wagering, is void.”In the present case, it cannot be denied that CKS has no insurable interest in the goods and merchandise inside the leased premises under the provisions of Section 17 of the Insurance Code which provide.
Section 17. The measure of an insurable interest in property is the extent to which the insured might be damnified by loss of injury thereof."Therefore, respondent CKS cannot, under the Insurance Code – a special law – be validly a beneficiary of the fire insurance policy taken by the petitioner-spouses over their merchandise. This insurable interest over said merchandise remains with the insured, the Cha spouses. The automatic assignment of the policy to CKS under the provision of the lease contract previously quoted is void for being contrary to law and/or public policy. The proceeds of the fire insurance policy thus rightfully belong to the spouses Nilo Cha and Stella Uy-Cha (herein co-petitioners). The insurer (United) cannot be compelled to pay the proceeds of the fire insurance policy to a person (CKS) who has no insurable interest in the property insured.