More Marine Ltd. v. Axa Pacific Insurance Company

In Marine Insurance on (Updated )

The policy in issue in this case contained a clause stipulating an annual aggregate deductible (“AAD”) of $250,000. The assured alleged that the clause was added without its knowledge and without consideration. Additionally, the assured alleged that its broker was negligent. The evidence established that in the initial correspondence between the broker and the insurer the AAD clause excluded claims for constructive total loss and total loss, however, the endorsements ultimately issued did not exclude such claims. The Court found that this was a deliberate decision even though there was no direct evidence on how or why the change was made. The Court further found that the assured was aware of the AAD clause. The AAD clause was initially in the amount of $100,000 but it was later increased to $250,000 due to the poor claims history of the assured. Again, the Court found that this was known to the assured. The assured argued that a concluded policy of insurance could not be amended and that it had not expressly approved the AAD. The Court held that clearly a policy can be amended and further that the broker was the agent of the assured and had the authority to bind the assured. The Court additionally held that the assured had ratified the acts of the broker by taking advantage of those acts. The assured additionally argued that there was no consideration for the AAD clause and that on its proper interpretation it did not apply to a constructive total loss. The Court held that there was consideration in that the changes to the policy benefitted both parties. Further, the Court held that the AAD clause was not ambiguous and did apply to a constructive total loss. The Court then turned to the allegations against the broker. The Court noted that a broker owes a stringent duty to provide both information and advice to an assured, however, held that there was no breach of duty in the circumstances. The Court noted that the broker did not communicate some aspects of its negotiations with underwriters but held the assured did not suffer any loss as a result. The Court found as a fact that in order to obtain insurance coverage the assured had to agree to an AAD clause that included constructive total losses and total losses.