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CHASTAIN v. UNITED INS. CO.

January 30, 1957

DOLLYE M. CHASTAIN, APPELLANT,
v.
UNITED INSURANCE COMPANY, RESPONDENT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Moss, Justice.

January 30, 1957.

The respondent, United Insurance Company, on January 17, 1955, issued its "Hospital and Residence Industrial Policy" to Dollye Chastain, the appellant herein, which said policy provided for the payment of certain weekly and hospital benefits for loss of time on account of sickness contracted during the term of the policy.

The respondent admitted the issuance of the said policy but exercised its option under the terms thereof not to renew the same. It was alleged that the illness of the appellant was not on account of any sickness contracted during the term of the policy as provided in the insuring clause thereof.

At the close of all of the testimony, upon motion of the respondent, Judge Pruitt granted a nonsuit on the ground that no other reasonable conclusion could be reached than that the appellant's condition existed prior to the issuance of the policy, and therefore, not covered under the terms of the policy. The case is before this Court on exceptions challenging the correctness of the ruling of Judge Pruitt. The appellant contends that there was sufficient evidence to go to the jury upon the question as to whether or not she suffered preexisting illness and was not in sound health at the time of the issuance of the policy; and the court below erred in refusing to allow testimony with reference to the issuance of other policies by the respondent and of the circumstances relating thereto. In connection with these questions there is the additional question of whether the respondent had the legal right to refuse to renew the policy at any premium paying date.

We first consider the question of whether the respondent had the legal right to terminate the policy by declining to accept renewal premiums. The answer to this question depends upon the terms of the policy.

A review of the policy shows that on the outside thereof and on page 1, there is printed in big, bold, black type, the following:

"This policy provides benefits for loss of life, limb, sight or time by accidental means, for loss of time by sickness, and other specified benefits, as herein limited and provided, and is renewable at the option of the company only.

Under "Special Provisions" there is provided in part 12, section D:

"The acceptance of any renewal premium shall be optional with the Company."

Section J provides:

"The term of the policy begins at 12:00 o'clock noon, Standard Time, at the place the Insured resides on the date of issue and ends at 12:00 o'clock noon, Standard time, on the date any renewal premium is due, except as it may be continued in force by reason of the grace period."

It appears to us that there is no ambiguity in the provisions of this insurance contract with reference to renewal. It is specific that renewal is optional with the insurer.

In the case of Inman v. Life Insurance Co. of Virginia, 223 S.C. 98, 74 S.E.2d 423, 424, this Court adopted the Order of the Circuit Judge, thereby approving the ...


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