On appeal from the Supreme Court.
For the appellants, Arthur T. Vanderbilt (G. Dixon Speakman, on the brief).
For the respondent, Henry P. Brown (Salvatore Muti, of counsel).
The opinion of the court was delivered by
LLOYD, J. This is an action on three fire insurance policies, one policy issued by the Home Insurance Company, one by
the Continental Insurance Company, and one by the Western Assurance Company, which resulted in verdicts and judgments for the plaintiff. The defendants appeal.
A stipulation of facts was entered into in the court below and from this it appears that the policies contained, among other provisions, one that they would be void if the insured "now has or shall hereafter make or procure any other contract of insurance whether valid or not, on property covered in whole or in part by this policy" unless otherwise provided by agreement endorsed on the policy. To the policies of the Continental and Western Insurance Companies a clause was added permitting insurance totaling $6,000, including the policy of $3,000 on which suit was brought. To the Home Insurance Company policy a like clause was added with the exception that no figures specifying either the amount of the policy or the additional insurance permitted were written in the spaces provided for that purpose. At the time of the fire the insured had effected other valid insurance covering the property substantially exceeding the total of $6,000 authorized by the supplemental agreements with the Continental and Western Companies.
It is contended, among other grounds for reversal, that all right of recovery is lost by the placing of the insurance above the stipulated amount.
Such limiting provisions are valid and binding agreements and a breach of them defeats right of recovery. Warwick v. Monmouth Insurance Co., 44 N.J.L. 83; New Jersey Rubber Co. v. Commercial Insurance Co., 64 Id. 580.
It may well be of vital moment to an insuring company whether there is or may be insurance in excess of the value of the property insured as bearing on the temptation to fraud or to indifferent care of the property by the owner.
It is argued by the respondent, however, that the permission to effect other insurance not exceeding $6,000 constitutes an abandonment or waiver of the limiting clause, but we think this contention is unsound. The two clauses are to be read together. By the first any additional insurance voids ...