HOW long must it take the Insurance Commission (IC) to resolve cases filed before it?
Thirty days, according to the IC Rules of Procedure, that is 30 days from the time all required documents have been filed by the parties involved.
Well, the Steel Corporation of the Philippines (SCP) was feeling desperate after the IC had failed to act for more than a year on the two cases it has filed against nine insurers for non-payment of insurance claims on SCP assets destroyed by two fires in 2008 and 2009.
No wonder, Abeto Uy, SCP chairman and chief executive officer, felt the need to file a mandamus with the Court of Appeals last July 28 to compel the IC to resolve the two cases against the nine insurance companies.
A mandamus, it was explained to me, provides relief whenever a public officer unlawfully neglects the performance of an act, which the law specifically enjoins as a duty resulting from an office, trust or station, and there is no plain, speedy and adequate remedy in the ordinary course of law. Whew, but I got the drift!
Uy pointed out that under the amended Insurance Code, the IC has power and supervision over insurance companies. It can suspend or even cancel the licenses of erring insurers. Uy lamented that the IC had refused to exercise these powers and review the cases against nine insurance companies for non-payment of insurance claims.
Indeed, it takes the patience of Job to wait as Uy did – about eight years for the insurers to pay up, and more than a year for the IC to act on his company’s complaints.
The woes of SCP against the insurers started in 2008, when fire hit the company’s plant in Munting Tubig, Balayan, Batangas. SCP had previously insured its $216-million worth of assets, including plants, buildings, and equipment for material damages, and for business interruption losses.
Uy claims that the consortium of insurers composed of UCPB General Insurance Corp., Oriental Assurance Corp., PNB General Insurers Corp., and Equitable Insurance Co. refused to pay based on the insurance plan bought by SCP.
With what he called “unfortunate” experience with the four insurers, SCP decided to insure its undamaged assets and business interruption losses with another consortium. Another tragedy hit SCP with a second fire on Dec. 7, 2009.
A panel of insurers, among them Adjusters Crawford and Co. Philippines, Inc., BA Insight International Inc., Forensic Services, Inc., and Standard Insurance conducted an ocular inspection of the fire scene and damaged cold rolling mill. The panel concluded that no foul play was involved in the fire and confirmed the legitimacy of SCP’s claim.
Despite this finding by independent investigators, SCP complained that the new consortium of insurers – Mapfre Insular Insurance, Philippine Charter Insurance, Asia Insurance Philippines, New India Assurance Co., and Malayan Insurance – refused to pay the balance of the insurance claims of SCP. Remember, those fires took place in 2008 and 2009
So, off to the IC went the beleaguered SCP. It failed to find the expected swift action there so SCP rushed to the Court of Appeals for a mandamus. Hopefully, this pioneering company can find the much needed relief there.
The SCP is registered with the Board of Investments as a pioneering company. It’s the only steel firm qualified under the Iron and Steel Industry Act. It’s the country’s top steel firm with assets amounting to about P13 billion.
I remember that during the campaign, then presidential candidate Rodrigo Duterte said that his industrialization plan will focus on strengthening the steel industry. It’s to the country’s benefit then for SCP to resume its normal operation as soon as possible.