Steinbach v. Insurance Company
Annotate this Case
80 U.S. 183 (1871)
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U.S. Supreme Court
Steinbach v. Insurance Company, 80 U.S. 13 Wall. 183 183 (1871)
Steinbach v. Insurance Company
80 U.S. (13 Wall.) 183
ERROR TO THE CIRCUIT COURT OF
THE UNITED STATES FOR MARYLAND
On a policy of insurance requiring, though in a printed part, that fire works should be specially written in it, and which added 50 cents on the $100 as premium for insuring them, held that evidence was rightly refused to prove that they constituted "an article in the line of a German jobber and importer," the stock of which sort of dealer by a written description had been insured, with a privilege to keep fire crackers.
Steinbach sued the Relief Fire Insurance Company on a policy of insurance against fire.
The subject insured was described in writing as follows in the body of the policy:
"On his stock of fancy goods, toys, and other articles in his line of business, contained in the brick building situated &c., and now in his occupancy as a German jobber and importer. Privileged to keep fire crackers on sale."
The premium paid was 40 cents on the $100.
It was provided in the printed part of the policy that
"If the premises should be used for the purpose of carrying on therein any trade or occupation, or for storing or keeping therein articles denominated hazardous, or extra hazardous, or specially hazardous, in the second class of hazards annexed to the policy, except as herein specially provided for, or hereinafter agreed to by this corporation in writing upon the policy, the policy shall be of no effect."
Among the second class of hazards, classed as hazardous No. 2, were enumerated "fire crackers in packages," and it was stated that they add to the rate of premium 10 cents per $100. And classed as specially hazardous were "fire works," it being stated that articles in that class add 50 cents or more to the rate, and to be covered must be specially written in the policy.
The plaintiff proved that the stock of goods in his store was insured in five other companies, in four of which there were the words, "fireworks permitted."
The fire, about which there was no doubt, originated in the fireworks that the plaintiff had in store for sale, and this being admitted, the plaintiff offered to prove "that fireworks constituted an article in the line of business of a German jobber and importer." The defendant objected and the court refused to admit the evidence. The plaintiff excepted, and on writ of error brought by him after judgment against him, the question was whether, in its refusal, the court had erred
THE CHIEF JUSTICE delivered the opinion of the Court.
The only question in this case arises upon the construction of the policy sued upon.
It contained a clause providing that fireworks, among other things, should be specially written in the policy. Otherwise they were not to be covered by the insurance. It is not pretended that fireworks are included under the name of fire crackers. But the plaintiff contends that they are included in the description of "other articles in his line of business." The answer to this is that the policy itself requires that fireworks shall be specially written in it. They are among the goods described as specially hazardous, and add 50 cents on the $100 to the ordinary rate of insurance.
It is impossible to think they are described by the general terms used in the policy. The insurance was at the ordinary rates. There can be no doubt that the evidence was properly rejected, and the judgment of the circuit court must therefore be