An analysis of the effect of an insured person's criminality upon claim in indemnity insurance contracts in Zambia

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Banda, Ansberto Ngoyi
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This study dubbed 'An Analysis of the Effect of an Insured Person's Criminality upon a Claim in Indemnity Insurance Contracts in Zambia' is aimed at analysing some principles of insurance law vis a vis indemnity contracts. One of the principles of insurance law is that one should not benefit from his criminal acts. This is a common law principle stated in the Latin phrase 'ex turpi causa non actio'. But questions arise as to whether there is a consistent effect of a person's criminal acts upon a claim in an insurance contract of indemnity. Some scholars have noted that even persons who are found guilty of some criminal acts under some statutes may succeed in a claim for indemnity under insurance law. One good example is when an insured person takes a policy for indemnity of a third party, even if the insured commits a crime negligently under the Road Traffic Act. In ordinary parlance, it is difficult to appreciate why at times, criminal acts are put into contemplation when considering a claim under an indemnity insurance contract while in other instances, a claim may be given without such considerations. This seems to be a source of controversy, and this research will constantly bear this in mind and focus on finding a better understanding of the insurance law principles surrounding indemnity contracts. Insurance is in essence a risk sharing devise. However, insurance law is one branch of the law that has too many rules to comprehend as each type of insurance has its own peculiarities. The principles surrounding indemnity insurance contracts in England greatly influenced the enactment of the Roads and Road Traffic Act there (and later in Zambia), which also imposes a statutory obligation on all motorists to insure their legal liability for causing death or bodily injury to third parties. However, the Act does not state if a person's criminal liability under the Act has any bearing upon any policy of insurance taken by the alleged wrongdoer. This situation leaves out a lacuna. This gap comes up because of the lack of pragmatism with the public policy under insurance law which upholds that no man should be allowed to recover over what are the fruits of the crime of the insured. And there is no proper guideline as regards the disparities between the effects of different crimes upon a claim in indemnity insurance. This paper will therefore endeavour to clarify such blurry areas of this branch of the law. Finally, recommendations will thus be made for the better understanding of this area of insurance law.
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