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U.S. Supreme Court

Hunt v. Springfield Fire & Marine Ins. Co., 196 U.S. 47 (1904)

Hunt v. Springfield Fire and Marine Insurance Company

No. 65

Argued December 1-2, 1904

Decided December 19, 1904

196 U.S. 47


A policy of insurance provided that it should be void if the interest of the insured was other than the unconditional and sole ownership or if the property were encumbered by a chattel mortgage. It was in fact subject to certain trust deeds which the insured claimed after loss were different instruments in law. Held that:

A deed of trust and a chattel mortgage with power of sale are practically one and the same instrument as understood in the District of Columbia. The rule that, in case of attempted forfeiture, if the policy be fairly susceptible of two constructions, the one will be adopted which is more favorable to the insured was inapplicable to this case.

The contract of an insurance company is a personal one with the assured, and it is not bound to accept any other person to whom the latter may transfer the property.

This was an action to recover on a policy of insurance upon household furniture and ornaments.

Defense: that it was provided that the policy should be chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

Page 196 U. S. 48

void if the interest of the insured was other than the unconditional and sole ownership of the property insured, or if the "said property should be or become encumbered by a chattel mortgage," when in fact it was subject, at the time the policy was written, to three trust deeds to secure the payment of various sums of money. Plaintiff demurred to the pleas setting up this defense. The court overruled the demurrer, entered judgment for the defendant, which was affirmed by the Court of Appeals. 20 D.C.App. 48.

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