Vanderbilt Law Review


Jerald H. Sklar

First Page



The doctrine of substantial compliance, and other rules of construction such as the rule calling for an interpretation of warranties as being promissory rather than continuing, are familiar and frequently applied. When applied in favor of the insured, the usual result is to find that the insured has not breached the warranty. This note deals with a less frequently employed tool of beneficent interpretation and one whose thrust is different, the divisibility of warranties. The doctrine of divisibility does not result in a finding of "no breach"; instead it admits the breach, but deems it immaterial because it is not related to the risk of that type of loss which has taken place. This note begins with a brief review of the nature of warranties in insurance policies, and a discussion of beneficent interpretations other than divisibility, so that the reader can understand the operation of the divisibility doctrine in its true context. The bulk of the note then sets out those cases in which the doctrine is properly employed, in an attempt to demonstrate and articulate an underlying theme which is both unified and coherent.

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