Hagan v. Scottish Ins. Co.,
186 U.S. 423 (1902)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Hagan v. Scottish Ins. Co., 186 U.S. 423 (1902)

Hagan v. Scottish Insurance Company

No. 206

Argued April 8, 1902

Decided June 2, 1902

186 U.S. 423


Where a marine policy is taken out upon a blank policy providing by many of its terms for insurance on property or goods on land, it becomes doubly important to keep, and apply with strictness, the rule that the written shall prevail over the printed portion of a policy, as in such case the written, even more clearly than usual, will evidence the real contract between the parties, and courts will not endeavor to limit what would otherwise be the meaning and effect of the written language by resorting to some printed provision in tile policy, which, if applied, would change such meaning and render the written portion substantially useless and without application. If there be any inconsistency between the written provision of the policy and the printed portions thereof, the written language must prevail.

By virtue of the language contained in the policy, "on account of whom it may concern," it is not necessary that the person who takes out such a policy should have at that time any specific individual in mind; but if he intended the policy should cover the interest of any person to whom he might sell the entire or any part of the interest insured, that would be enough.

This Court differs from the conclusion arrived at by the circuit court of appeals in its statement that there was nothing in the case to support a finding that Hagan intended to insure a subsequent vendee of the boat, or of an interest therein, because of the retention in the policy of the provision that it should be entirely void, unless otherwise provided by agreement, if any change, etc., should be made, and holds that the very purpose of stating that the insurance was on account of whom it may concern was to do away with the printed provisions in regard to the sole ownership and to the change of interest and that was an agreement "otherwise provided," than in the printed portion of the policy.

This is a libel in admiralty by the petitioners, Peter Hagan and Edward F. Martin, on a policy of insurance issued by the Scottish Union and National Insurance Company, November 19, 1897, against loss or damage by fire to an amount, not exceeding $2,000, on the tug boat Senator Penrose. The district court made a decree for the libellants. 98 F. 129.

Page 186 U. S. 424

This decree was reversed by the Circuit Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. 102 F. 919.

By the policy it is provided, among other things, that the company --

"In consideration of the stipulations herein named and of twenty-five dollars premium does insure Peter Hagan and Company for account of whom it may concern for the term of one year from the 19th day of November, 1897 at noon, to the 19th day of November, 1898 at noon, against all direct loss or damage by fire, except as hereinafter provided, to an amount not exceeding two thousand dollars, to the following-described property while located and contained as described herein, and not elsewhere, to-wit:"

"On the iron tug Senator Penrose, her hull, tackle, apparel, engines, boilers, machinery, appurtenances, furniture, and supplies."

"Privilege to engage in such employment as may be incidental to her trade; also to lay up and haul out on railways and dry docks and to undergo alterations and repairs; also to use kerosene oil for lights."

"Other insurance permitted without notice until required."

"N.Y. and Penna. standard."

"Percentage coinsurance clause."

"If at the time of fire the whole amount of insurance on the property covered by this policy shall be less than 80 percent of the actual cash value thereof, this company shall, in case of loss or damage, be liable for only such portion of such loss or damage as the amount insured by this policy shall bear to the said 80 percent of the actual cash value of such property."

"Attached to policy No. 2,139,457, Scottish U. & N. Insurance Co."

"S.D. Hawley & Son"

"Agents, Resident Managers"

"* * * *"

"This entire policy, unless otherwise provided by agreement indorsed hereon or added hereto, shall be void if the insured now has, or shall hereafter make or procure, any other contract of insurance, whether valid or not, on property covered

Page 186 U. S. 425

in whole or in part by this policy; or if the subject of insurance be a manufacturing establishment, and it be operated in whole or in part at night later than ten o'clock, or if it cease to be operated for more than ten consecutive days; or if the hazard be increased by any means within the control or knowledge of the insured; or if mechanics be employed in building, altering, or repairing the within-described premises for more than fifteen days at any one time; or if the interest of the insured be other than unconditional and sole ownership; or if the subject of insurance be a building or ground not owned by the insured in fee simple; or if the subject of insurance be personal property and be or become encumbered by a chattel mortgage; or if with the knowledge of the insured foreclosure proceedings be commenced or notice given of sale of any property covered by this policy by virtue of any mortgage or trust deed; or if any change, other than by the death of an insured, take place in the interest, title, or possession of the subject of insurance (except change of occupants without increase of hazard), whether by legal process or judgment, or by voluntary act of the insured, or otherwise; or if this policy be assigned before a loss,"


The words "Peter Hagan and Company for account of whom it may concern" are written with a pen, while the paragraphs commencing with the words "On the iron tug," and ending with the words "S.D. Hawley & Son, Agents, Resident Managers." are in typewriting, and on a separate strip attached to the face of the policy.

In June, 1898, Peter Hagan, who obtained the insurance, sold one-half interest in the tug to Edward F. Martin, and the latter held that interest at the time of the destruction of the tug by fire. No notice was given to the insurance company of the fact that Martin had acquired an interest in the boat. The respondents denied all liability to the plaintiffs because no notice was given of the change of ownership or of the interest in the tug by respective libellants as required by the terms of the policy.

Page 186 U. S. 426

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