Three insurance companies negligently issued policies on the life of a two-year-old child to an aunt-in-law having no insurable interest in the child’s life. A few months later, the aunt murdered the child. Plaintiff, the child’s father, recovered a $75,000 judgment against the insurance companies for his child’s wrongful death. Held: Judgment affirmed. The central reason for refusing to recognize insurance contracts where the beneficiary has no insurable interest is that such contracts provide a motive for murder. Hence an insurance company must use reasonable care not to issue a life insurance policy to one with no insurable interest and murder of the insured by the “no insurable interest” beneficiary may accordingly be found to be a foreseeable consequence of failing to exercise such care. (Liberty Life Insurance Company v. Weldon, 267 Ala. 171, 100 So.2d 696 )
The court’s reliance on the law of insurance to support its holding on foreseeability seems misplaced. While statements can be found to the effect that the law of insurable interests is to some extent premised on a “temptation to murder” rationale, certainly its central basis is not temptation to murder but the public policy against gambling. This is evident not only from the many holdings that insurance policies are freely assignable but from judicial approval of other interests involving tendencies quite as fatal to human life—life-tenant-remainderman and testator-legatee relationships, for example.
Richard E. Petrie,
Insurance—Company Liability for Wrongful Death When Insured Murdered by Purchaser with No Insurable Interest,
38 Neb. L. Rev. 830
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