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May 27, 2008

273 SCRA 432 (1997)

  • INSURANCE LAW: Contract of Insurance


Hong Kong Government Supplies Department contracted Mayer Steel Pipe Corporation to manufacture and supply various steel pipes and fittings. Prior to the shipping, Mayer insured these pipes and fittings against all risks with South Sea Surety and Insurance Co., Inc. and Charter Insurance Corp., with Industrial Inspection Inc. appointed as third-party inspector.

After examining the pipes and fittings, Industrial Inspection certified that they are in good order condition. However, when the goods reached Hong Kong, it was discovered that a substantial portion thereof was damaged.

The trial court found in favor of the insured. However, when the case was elevated to the CA, it set aside the decision of the trial court and dismissed the complaint on the ground of prescription. It held that the action was barred under Sec. 3(6) of the Carriage of Goods by Sea Act (COGSA) since it was filed only on April 17, 1986, more than two years from the time the goods were unloaded from the vessel.


  • Whether or not the action is barred by prescription


Sec. 3(6) of the COGSA states that the carrier and the ship shall be discharged from all liability for loss or damage to the goods if no suit is filed within one year after delivery of the goods or the date when they should have been delivered. Under this provision, only the carrier’s liability is extinguished if no suit is brought within one year. But the liability of the insurer is not extinguished because the insurer’s liability is based not on the contract of carriage but on the contract of insurance.

An insurance contract is a contract whereby one party, for a consideration known as the premium, agrees to indemnify another for loss or damage which he may suffer from a specified peril. An “all risks” insurance policy covers all kinds of loss other than those due to willful and fraudulent act of the insured. Thus, when private respondents issued the “all risks” policies to Mayer, they bound themselves to indemnify the latter in case of loss or damage to the goods insured. Such obligation prescribes in ten years, in accordance with Article 1144 of the New Civil Code.


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