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Insurance Case Digest:The Insular Life Assurance Co. Ltd. v. Ebrado (1977)

G.R. No. L-44059 October 28, 1977
Lessons Applicable: 

  • Art. 2011 Civil Code (Insurance)
  • Invalid Designation (Insurance)

  • September 1, 1968: Buenaventura Cristor Ebrado was issued by The Insular Life Assurance Co., Ltd., Policy on a whole-life for P5,882.00 with a, rider for Accidental Death and designated Carponia T. Ebrado as the revocable beneficiary in his policy
  • October 21, 1969: Buenaventura was hit by a falling branch and died. 
  • Carponia filed a claim as the designated beneficiary, although she admits that they were merely living as husband and wife without the benefit of marriage
  • Pascuala Vda. de Ebrado also filed her claim as the widow of the deceased insured
  • In doubt as to whom the insurance proceeds shall be paid, the insurer, The Insular Life Assurance Co., Ltd. commenced an action for Interpleader bef. the CFI
  • CFI: Carponia was disqualified because of adultery
  • CA: affirmed CFI decision
ISSUE: W/N Carponia is disqualified for violating the Civil Code which supplements the silent Insurance Code.

HELD: YES. CA affirmed. 

Civil Code
Art. 2011
Art. 2011. The contract of insurance is governed by special laws. Matters not expressly provided for in such special laws shall be regulated by this Code. 
Art. 2012
Art. 2012. Any person who is forbidden from receiving any donation under Article 739 cannot be named beneficiary of a life insurance policy by the person who cannot make any donation to him, according to said article.
Art. 739
Art. 739. The following donations shall be void:

(1) Those made between persons who were guilty of adultery or concubinage at the time of the donation;
(2) Those made between persons found guilty of the same criminal offense, in consideration thereof;
(3) Those made to a public officer or his wife, descedants and ascendants, by reason of his office.

In the case referred to in No. 1, the action for declaration of nullity may be brought by the spouse of the donor or donee; and the guilt of the donor and donee may be proved by preponderance of evidence in the same action. 
  • Common-law spouses are, definitely, barred from receiving donations from each other
  • In essence, a life insurance policy is no different from a civil donation insofar as the beneficiary is concerned. Both are founded upon the same consideration: liberality. A beneficiary is like a donee, because from the premiums of the policy which the insured pays out of liberality, the beneficiary will receive the proceeds or profits of said insurance. As a consequence, the proscription in Article 739 of the new Civil Code should equally operate in life insurance contracts.
  • We do not think that a conviction for adultery or concubinage is exacted before the disabilities mentioned in Article 739 may effectuate.
  • requisite proof of common-law relationship between the insured and the beneficiary has been conveniently supplied by the stipulations between the parties in the pre-trial conference of the case