Nobile v. Travelers Indem. Co. of Hartford, Conn.

Decision Date25 June 1958
Citation4 N.Y.2d 536,152 N.E.2d 33,176 N.Y.S.2d 585
Parties, 152 N.E.2d 33 Angelo NOBILE, Respondent, v. TRAVELERS INDEMNITY COMPANY OF HARTFORD, CONNECTICUT, Appellant.
CourtNew York Court of Appeals Court of Appeals

John G. Donovan, New York City, for appellant.

Howard E. Levitt and Sidney N. Zipser, New York City, for respondent.


This suit was brought by plaintiff Nobile to have it determined that an automobile liability insurance policy issued to him by defendant Travelers Indemnity Company was in effect when, at 12:45 a. m. on October 17, 1955, plaintiff's automotive tractor and trailer collided with another automobile, the driver of which was killed and others were injured. Effective September 16, 1955, Travelers had issued to Nobile a one-year liability policy. Plaintiff was represented in the transaction by his broker Bowkley. On October 10, 1955, only a few days after he received the policy, Nobile told broker Bowkely by telephone that he (Nobile) no longer needed the policy since his tractor and trailer were now insured through a company for which he was doing hauling and, also, because he considered the premiums to be too high. Broker Bowkley in the same telephone conversation told plaintiff that the policy could not be cancelled until plaintiff should return it to the broker's office and until the broker should in turn forward it to defendant for cancellation. Nothing more definite was said in that telephone conversation about a cancellation date. Nobile did send the policy to the broker who received it by mail on either October 12th or October 13th. Nobile testified at the trial that he had sent the policy to Bowkley 'to be cancelled'. At Bowkely's direction a clerk in his office wrote in ink across the face of the policy at the top 'Cancel 10/14/55'. On Bowkley's office copy of the policy his clerk wrote 'Cancelled 10/14/55'. Then, on October 14th (Friday), the broker mailed to Travelers the policy so marked 'Cancel 10/14/55' with a letter which said: 'As per the request of Mr. Nobile, I am herewith enclosing the above mentioned automobile policy for cancellation'. That letter and the policy with the 'Cancel' legend thereon were received at defendant's office on Monday, October 17th, at about 9:00 a. m. A few hours earlier (just after midnight that same morning) Nobile's tractor-trailer was in the collision above described. Later on that same morning Nobile notified his broker of the accident and, still on the same day, the broker passed the information to Travelers and was told by a company representative that the policy and letter had arrived and that 'the policy was being processed for cancellation as of October 14'. The company had already calculated the amount of unearned premium as of October 14th and had put on its own office record of this policy the notation: 'Canc 10/14/55'. On October 20th, at the insurer's request, Bowkley sent the insurer an accident report which had been made out by plaintiff. On October 21st the insurer sent to the broker a check made out to the broker for the unearned premium computed by the company as of October 14th, which check the broker sent on to Nobile who cashed it after holding it for about a month. Meanwhile, on October 31st, Nobile himself had sent on to defendant a summons in a lawsuit brought against him for damages caused by the collision. Travelers, however, returned this summons to plaintiff with a statement saying that there was no policy coverage since the policy had been 'cancelled previous to the date of the accident'. Nobile then brought this suit for a judgment to declare whether or not the cancellation had become effective before the time of the accident.

The trial court found for plaintiff and judgment was rendered accordingly. The Appellate Division unanimously affirmed without opinion and we granted leave to appeal. The trial court's opinion, delivered orally at the close of the trial, recited the facts and held that the cancellation had not taken effect prior to the accident. The court's reasons were two: first, that 'the notice in which the policy was returned did not state when thereafter the cancellation shall be effective', and second, 'That in any event, until the actual receipt of the notice and policy by the defendant, there can be no cancellation'. But in so holding the court failed to give effect to the language of the policy itself, Condition 24 of which is in full as follows:

'This policy may be canceled by the named insured by mailing to the company written notice stating when thereafter the cancelation shall be effective. This policy may be canceled by the company be mailing to the named insured at the address shown in this policy written notice stating when not less than ten days thereafter such cancelation shall be effective. The mailing of notice as aforesaid shall be sufficient proof of notice. The effective date and hour of cancelation stated in the notice shall become the end of the policy period. Delivery of such written notice either by the named insured or by the company shall be equivalent to mailing.

'If the named insured cancels, earned premium shall be computed in accordance with the customary short rate table and procedure. If the company cancels, earned premium shall be computed pro rata. Premium adjustment may be made either at the time cancelation is effected or as soon as...

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14 cases
  • Schroeder v. Horack, 60828
    • United States
    • Missouri Supreme Court
    • December 6, 1979
    ...insured that he had acquired new insurance covering the same risk and wished to cancel his policy); Nobile v. Travelers Indemn. Co., 4 N.Y.2d 536, 176 N.Y.S.2d 585, 152 N.E.2d 33 (1958) (holding that where letter and policy put in mail on October 14 and endorsement of broker gave same date ......
  • Country-Wide Ins. Co. v. Wagoner
    • United States
    • New York Supreme Court — Appellate Division
    • May 27, 1977
    ... ... date prior to the date on which notice is sent (Nobile v. Travelers Indem ... Co., 4 N.Y.2d 536, 176 N.Y.S.2d ... & M. Jewelry Creations, Inc. v. Hartford" Fire Ins. Co., 26 A.D.2d 816, 274 N.Y.S.2d 330) ...    \xC2" ... ...
  • Hayes v. Hartford Acc. & Indem. Co., 198
    • United States
    • North Carolina Supreme Court
    • June 14, 1968
    ...stating when thereafter such cancellation shall be effective, 8 A.L.R.2d 203 (1949). In Nobile v. Travelers Indemnity Co. of Hartford, Conn., 4 N.Y.2d 536, 176 N.Y.S.2d 585, 152 N.E.2d 33 (Ct.App.), on 16 September 1955, the defendant issued to the plaintiff an automobile liability policy. ......
  • Allstate Ins. Co. v. Doody, 66--136
    • United States
    • Florida District Court of Appeals
    • January 17, 1967
    ...Ins. Co., 178 Misc. 312, 34 N.Y.S.2d 238.10 Kudrna v. Great Northern Insurance Company, supra; Nobile v. Travelers Indem. Co. of Hartford, Conn., 4 N.Y.2d 536, 176 N.Y.S.2d 585, 152 N.E.2d 33; Contra, Suennen v. Evrard, 254 Wis. 565, 36 N.W.2d 685, 8 A.L.R.2d 200 (1949), holding provision m......
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