Recent judgment relating to an insurance claim which denied Plaintiff’s arguments regarding an extension of the time frame for filing an insurance claim
A recent Magistrate Court decision rejecting Plaintiff’s Claim which was filed after the Limitation Period prescribed by the Insurance Contract Law-1981 (hereinafter: the Insurance Contract Law) was handed down in C.C. 3737-04-14 Muhamad Abu Dachal v. Menora Insurance Co. Ltd. The Appeal, filed by Plaintiff, was rejected by the District Court and his Motion to file an appeal to the Supreme Court was also denied on 24th January 2016, for procedural reasons.
In the above judgement Plaintiff raised an important issue relating to liability of insurers to pay insurance benefits to an insured after the Limitation Period as Plaintiff argued that the grounds for filing the claim were not based solely on the Insurance Contract Law, but also on the grounds of breach of the Tort law, unjust enrichment and general principles of the Contract Law, which are not subject to the Limitation Period of 3 years as prescribed in the Insurance Contract Law.
On 2nd April 2014 Plaintiff filed a claim to the Magistrate Court in Beer-Sheva against Menora Insurance Co. Ltd. (hereinafter: the Insurers) for insurance benefits. Plaintiff alleged that his vehicle was stolen on 19th April 2007 and therefore he should be compensated accordingly.
Insurers submitted a motion for declination of the claim, arguing that the period for filing the above claim has elapsed, as according to section 31 of the Insurance Contract Law, the period for filing an insurance claim is 3 years from the date of the occurrence.
Plaintiff did not dispute the fact that the limitation period stipulated by the Insurance Contract Law is 3 years and that his claim according to the above law is time barred. However, Plaintiff argued that his claim is based on additional causes of actions including contractual grounds, violation of the Tort Law and unjustified enrichment.
These grounds are not subject to the limitation period prescribed by the Insurance Contract Law and therefore the Motion filed by Insurers should be denied.
Discussion and Decision:
The Court reviewed the above arguments and determined that Plaintiff’s attempt to distinguish between the grounds which are based on the Insurance contract Law and additional grounds based on other laws is artificial and should be denied. The Court determined that even in case one party to the contract breached his duty to act in good faith (a duty stipulated in section 39 to the Contract Law 1973), this cause of action cannot exclude the provisions of the Insurance Contract Law in the above case.
The Court referred in its decision to another ruling in C.C 1988-06-10 Kobovski v. Shirbit Insurance Co. Ltd. handed down in 2012, which stated that in a case where the main characteristics of the claim are based on insurance policy and its interpretation, even in cases in which one can add ancillary causes of action based on Contract Law, Tort Law and unjustified enrichment, the claim shall be subject to the Insurance Contract Law and the special provisions of the above Law will apply.
The Court also stated that examining a claim for insurance benefits under the general Contract Law will eliminate the special arrangement stipulated in section 31 to the Insurance Contract Law, as the basic argument in every insurance claim is that the Insurer breached his contractual duty according to the Policy.
In light of the above, the Court determined that Plaintiff should have submitted his claim within the limitation period stipulated by the Insurance Contract Law.
Plaintiff submitted an appeal to the District Court which was denied since Plaintiff had exceeded the time frame for serving appeals stipulated in the Civil Procedure regulations and his Motion to submit an appeal to the Supreme Court was also denied for a procedural reason.