Utmost good faith
insurance shifts risk from one party to another, it is essential that there
must be utmost good faith and mutual confidence between the insured and the
insurer. In a contract of insurance the insured knows more about the subject
matter of the contract than the insurer. Consequently, he is duty bound to
disclose accurately all material facts and nothing should be withheld or
concealed. Any fact is material, which goes to the root of the contract of
insurance and has a bearing on the risk involved. It is only when the insurer
knows the whole truth that he is in a position to judge (a) whether he should
accept the risk and (b) what premium he should charge.
If that were so, the insured might be tempted to bring about the event insured against in order to get money.
- Insurable Interest - A contract of insurance effected without insurable interest is void. It means that the insured must have an actual pecuniary interest and not a mere anxiety or sentimental interest in the subject matter of the insurance. The insured must be so situated with regard to the thing insured that he would have benefit by its existence and loss from its destruction. The owner of a ship run a risk of losing his ship, the charterer of the ship runs a risk of losing his freight and the owner of the cargo incurs the risk of losing his goods and profit. So, all these persons have something at stake and all of them have insurable interest. It is the existence of insurable interest in a contract of insurance, which distinguishes it from a mere watering agreement.
- Causa Proxima - The rule of causa proxima means that the cause of the loss must be proximate or immediate and not remote. If the proximate cause of the loss is a peril insured against, the insured can recover. When a loss has been brought about by two or more causes, the question arises as to which is the causa proxima , although the result could not have happened without the remote cause. But if the loss is brought about by any cause attributable to the misconduct of the insured, the insurer is not liable.
- Risk - In a contract of insurance the insurer undertakes to protect the insured from a specified loss and the insurer receive a premium for running the risk of such loss. Thus, risk must attach to a policy.
- Mitigation of Loss - In the event of some mishap to the insured property, the insured must take all necessary steps to mitigate or minimize the loss, just as any prudent person would do in those circumstances. If he does not do so, the insurer can avoid the payment of loss attributable to his negligence. But it must be remembered that though the insured is bound to do his best for his insurer, he is, not bound to do so at the risk of his life.
- Subrogation - The doctrine of subrogation is a corollary to the principle of indemnity and applies only to fire and marine insurance. According to it, when an insured has received full indemnity in respect of his loss, all rights and remedies which he has against third person will pass on to the insurer and will be exercised for his benefit until he (the insurer) recoups the amount he has paid under the policy. It must be clarified here that the insurer's right of subrogation arises only when he has paid for the loss for which he is liable under the policy and this right extend only to the rights and remedies available to the insured in respect of the thing to which the contract of insurance relates.
- Contribution - Where there are two or more insurance on one risk, the principle of contribution comes into play. The aim of contribution is to distribute the actual amount of loss among the different insurers who are liable for the same risk under different policies in respect of the same subject matter. Any one insurer may pay to the insured the full amount of the loss covered by the policy and then become entitled to contribution from his co-insurers in proportion to the amount which each has undertaken to pay in case of loss of the same subject-matter.
In other words, the right of contribution arises when (I) there are different policies which relate to the same subject-matter (ii) the policies cover the same peril which caused the loss, and (iii) all the policies are in force at the time of the loss, and (iv) one of the insurers has paid to the insured more than his share of the loss.
Terms of policy
Terms of policy mean the duration for which the policy will cover the risk. Except in case of life insurance, a contract of insurance is from year to year only and the insurance automatically comes to an end after the expiry of the years unless, of course, it is renewed.