The following Insurance & Reinsurance practice note Produced in partnership with Alexander Rosenfield of Fenchurch Law and John Curran of Fenchurch Law provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:
Insurance contracts have always had an aura of mystery about them in the eyes of law students and lawyers. This is because they are contracts of the utmost good faith. They are different from other contracts: they need to be handled with extra special care. The main component of the obligation of the utmost good faith, as laid down in the Marine Insurance Act 1906 (MIA 1906), is the duty of the policyholder to volunteer information to the insurer that would ‘influence the judgment of a prudent insurer’ in deciding whether to take the risk and what to charge for it (see MIA 1906, s 18). This has always been a tall order. It calls on the policyholder to try to work out how the mind of an insurer works and make disclosure accordingly. The insurer, meanwhile, was entitled to sit back, with no obligation to give the policyholder any clues or prompts. It was easy for the policyholder to breach this obligation with very harsh consequences: any material non-disclosure (honest, innocent, careless or otherwise) entitled the insurer to avoid the cover (MIA 1906, s 18(1)). A potentially catastrophic result for the policyholder.
The Consumer Insurance (Disclosure and Representations) Act 2012 (CI(DR)A 2012) changed all of this. CI(DR)A 2012 eliminates the duty on consumers to volunteer information to insurers, replacing it with a duty to
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