The writer has been unable to find any case in which an action has been brought by an assignee upon a policy payable to order or bearer. The nearest approach to it is an action upon a policy made “for whom it may concern at the time of the loss.” There the action was brought by the assignee of a mortgagee whose mortgage was given subsequently to the issue of the policy. It was held that he might sue for his own loss in a court of equity; and furthermore, that inasmuch as he was a purchaser for value without notice, he was entitled to his insurance money without any deduction for unpaid premiums due from the original insured, although the insurance agent would have had a lien upon the insurance moneys as against the original insured. Yet this doctrine was disapproved in an action upon a policy “for whom it may concern” in two early cases in Pennsylvania. In Gourdin v. Ins. Co. of North America an insurance policy was likened to a bond for the payment of money, and it was held that every defence which was available against the assignor was available against the assignee, with the one exception, where the insurer was estopped from setting up the defence.
The theory of Chief Justice Shaw above cited is applied only to fire insurance, though it might be applied to marine insurance in case there was a condition in a marine policy against the assignment of the property insured. There is no inherent difference between the contract of marine insurance and the contract of fire insurance. Both are contracts of indemnity; both are personal contracts with the insured, and both are mercantile contracts ordered and controlled by the custom of merchants. Yet the courts seem to have ruled from the earliest times that, in the case of fire insurance, no assignment of the policy and property will be valid without the consent of the insurer thereto, while in marine
insurance no such consent is necessary. But the writer ventures
- 2 Valin, 45.
- Duer, Ins. p. 52, note (a).
- Rogers v. Traders’ Ins. Co., 6 Paige, 583.
- Rousset v. Ins. Co. of N.A., 1 Binney, 429; Gourdin v. Ins. Co. of N.A., 1 Binney, 430.
- Lynch v. Dalzell (supra); Sadlers Co. v. Badcock (supra).
- Arnold, Marine Insurance (6th ed.), 117; Powles v. Innes, ll M. & W. 10 (1843); Wakefield v. Martin, 3 Mass. 558 (1801); Earl v. Shaw, 1 Johns. Cas. 313 (1800).