Marine Insurance Policies

The marine insurance policy is issued only when the contract has been finalized and it would be legal documents of evidence of the contract. The form of marine insurance policies has been taken from pretty old times.

There has been a slight change in the wordings of the policies, For example, ‘Be it known that’ is substituted for the words ‘In the name of God, Amen.’

The old form of policy has been practised today due to its practicabilities which took after a numerous legal decisions during the past centuries.

It has also been practised that only form of policy is standardized and different clauses are added for applying to various types of policies.

The standard policy generally contains the following information:

  • Name of insured or his agent.
  • Subject matter insured. It may be ship (hull) cargo and freight.
  • Risks insured against.
  • Name of vessel and officers.
  • Description of voyage or period of insurance.
  • Amount and term of insurance.
  • Premium

There are various clauses which are suitably inserted according to the nature and type of policies. Hull, cargo and freight policies have different standard clauses.

In case of hull insurance, the clauses provide that if the insured vessel at the expiration of the policy is at sea, or at a port of refuge.

Generally the ship may be covered until arrival at port of destination. In case of cargo policies – with Average, Free of particular Average, or All Risks are generally used.

There are standard clauses which are invariably used in marine insurance. Firstly, policies are constructed in plain, ordinary and popular sense, and later on, specific, clauses are added to them according to terms and conditions of the contract.

Clauses attached to the policy would override the printed wording in the policy.

Different Types of Marine Policies

Different classes of policies are used in marine insurance.

1. Voyage Policy

The policy is issued to cover a particular voyage from one port to another and from one place to another.

The policy mentions the port of departure and the port of destination, between which the risks are generally underwritten. This policy is not suitable for hull insurance as a ship usually does not operate over a particular route only.

However, this policy may include time factor also as from Bombay to London for one year.

In this case the risk may be covered from one place to another covering a period of one year.

The policy is used mostly in case of cargo insurance. The goods remain covered even when the ship halts at intermediate ports. The risks at the port of departure and at the port of destination may be covered by incorporating suitable, clauses in the policy.

The liability of the insurer continues during landing and re-shipping of the goods.

2. Time Policy

Under this policy, the subject-matter is insured for a definite period of time, e.g., from 6 a.m. of 1st January, 1976 to 6 a.m. of 1st January, 1977.

The policy is generally taken for one year although it maybe for less than one year. This policy is commonly more used for hull insurance than for the cargo insurance.

The policy, may cover, while navigating the vessel or while under construction. Risks covered under construction are far more than 12 months. There are standard clauses in relation to freight, premium, interests, etc. which are added to this policy.

The time policy may be taken in case of goods and other movable vessels.

3. Voyage and Time Policy or mixed Policies

In this policy, the elements of voyage policy and of time policy are combined in under this policy. The reference is made certain period after completion of voyage. For example, 24 hours after arrival. It may be beneficial to hull as well as to cargo insurance.

4. Valued Policy

Under this policy the value of loss to be compensated is fixed and remains constant throughout the risk except where there is fraud and excessive over-valuation.

The value of the subject-matter is agreed between the insurer and the assured at the time of taking the insurance. It is also called insured value or agreed value.

It forms the measure of indemnity at the time of loss. The insured value is not necessarily the actual value.

It may be total of invoice, e.g., cost of goods, freight; shipping charges, insurance and a certain percentage of margin (generally 10 per cent) to cover anticipated profits.

5. Unvalued Policy

When the value of policy is not determined at the time of commencement of risk but is left to be valued when the loss takes place.

6. Floating Policy

This policy describes the general terms and leaves the amount of each shipment and other particulars to be declared later on. The declaration is made in order of despatch of shipment.

The policy is taken for a round large sum which is specified at each declaration and is attached to each shipment. With each declaration the amount will be reduced till it is exhausted when the insured sum is said to be ‘closed’ and the policy is ‘fully declared’ or, ‘run off’.

The most popular form of contract is ‘Open Cover’. It is an agreement between the insured and the insurer by which the assured on his part agrees to declare, and the insurer on his part agrees to accept al the shipments falling within the scope of the ‘open cover’ which is merely an original ship.

It is not a legal contract of marine insurance and suffers from the same legal disability as the ‘original ship’. However the insured and the insurers are honour bound. To give ‘Open Cover’ a legal form, a policy is issued for the purpose.

Separate policies are not issued in case of each shipment but only one policy is issued at the time of entering into contract. All declarations are written on the back of the policy.

A classification clause is usually inserted in ‘open cover’ to provide the agreed rates of premium. Similarly, valuation clauses are also inserted to provide the basis for valuation in the event of loss taking place.

This policy is suitable for a cargo-owner who makes regular shipments of cargoes. All his shipments are automatically covered as soon as the declarations are made. The floating policies are mostly used in the age of gigantic trade.

7. Blanket Policy

The policy is taken to cover losses within the particular time and place. The policy is taken for a certain amount and premium is paid on the whole of it in the beginning of the policy and is re-adjusted at the end of the policy according to the actual work at risk.

If the actual coverage of risk is less than the total amount of insurance, the premium related to the excess amount is returned to the insured. On the other hand, if the amount of shipments are greater than the insured sum, additional premium is charged over the excess protection.

8. Named Policy

Under this policy, the name of the ship and the amount of insured cargo are mentioned. These policies are specific policies.

9. Single Vessel and Fleet Policy

A ship or a fleet of ships is insured in a single policy. When one policy is assured, it is called single vessel policy and when a fleet of ship is insured in single policy, it is called fleet insurance policy.

The advantages of the fleet policies are that even old and weak ships are also insured. This insurance facilitates easy and smooth functioning of insurance benefits.

10. Block Policy

This policy insures incidental inland risks ,too, along with the marine perils. For example, cotton is insured from the time of processing to the time when it was delivered at the point of destination.

11. Currency Policy

Policy issued in foreign currency is called currency policy, where the sum assured is stated in foreign currency. This policy avoids the fluctuation in foreign currencies because the claim amount is determined in the foreign currency and the fluctuations in the exchange rates of the inland and foreign currencies up to the period of the policy are meaningless.

12. P.P.I. Policy

The policy is issued to avoid the complication of the principle of insurable interest. This is called ‘Policy Proof of Interest’ and are honoured by the insurer even in absence of insurable interest.

This policy is based on mutual understanding, so, it is called honoured policies. This is also called wagering policies because insurable interest is not required; consequently, it cannot be legally enforceable.

13. Special Declaration Policy

A special declaration policy (SDP) is a from of floating policy issued to clients who have a large turnover with many and frequent dispatches of goods. The minimum annual estimates despatches shall be Rs.3 crore for the individual company concerned.

Issue one of SDP to transport operators/agents or forwarders is prohibited.

The policy shall not be issued in joint names. However, financial interest of a bulk or the financial institution may be recorded in the policy. Special declaration policy is not assignable or transferable. The sum insured shall be on the basis of the previous year’s turnover.

Mid-term increase in the sum insured may be allowed once only during the currency of the policy. Insurance may be renewed subsequently  for an amount not less than the total amount of the expiring year turnover.

Annual turnover means total insured value of goods in transit. It may include all incoming and outgoing consignments comprising capital goods, raw materials, stores, finished and semi finished products.

Total value of the goods shall be declared at periodical intervals but at least once on completion of each quarter in the form of certified statement.

14. Annual Policy

The Annual Policy is insured for a period of 12 months to cover goods belonging to the assured or held in trust by the assured.

The policy is not assignable or transferable. The policy is not allowed to be issued to transport operators/contractors, clearing, forwarding and commission agents or to freight forwarders.

Nor can this policy be issued in Joint Names. The sum insured is the aggregate maximum estimate value on rail/road at any one time of all the insured goods in respect of a specified transit.

The policy shall be subject to condition of average stipulating in respect of that specified transit, the assured shall be considered as being his own insurer for the difference and shall bear a rateable proportion of the loss accordingly.

Sum assured under the Annual Policy shall stand, reinstated as from the time of the happening of an event giving rise to a valid claim and the assured shall remain responsible for pro-rata additional premium for the remaining period of the policy on the amount reinstated continuing from the date of the loss.

15. Inland Transit Cargo Policy

Inland Transit Policy covers all risk for inland transit for rail and road. It may cover only a few risks such as fire or theft or strikes, riots, civil commotion.

The cover may be extended up to 7 days after arrival at destination. It may be extended per week additional premium for a subject to note exceeding 8 weeks.

This extension apply to goods only which is lying in railway or road carrier’s premises or in clearing and forwarding agents’ warehouse in bonded warehouse at the destination.

16. Inland Vessel Policy

Inland vessel policy covers all cargoes carried on rivers, canals or other smooth waters including F.O.B. shipment.

General average sacrifice and jettison are not included in the risk covered. The rate of premium is based on age, propelled engine, steel, wooden boats, etc.

17. Indian Coast Ports Policy

This policy covers cargo on coastal voyage, covered by self propelled vessels of iron or steel construction which are not over 15 years of age and not under 450 tons GRT/Rates depend upon Voyage between different category of ports.

For timber stored in deck, insurance shall be limited to Free of all Average (FAA) and Institute Cargo Clauses (ICC) covers both including jettison and washing over board.

18. Free and Board Policy

The policy is arranged by the buyer overseas for his own account and benefit. Risks under the buyer’s policy commence on loading of the cargo on the overseas vessel, because it is at the juncture of transit that the risk passes from the seller to the buyer.

The covers start from the time the cargo leave the warehouse till such goods are loaded on the ship. The policy also cover loss/damage reasonably attributable to craft, raft or lighter being stranded, grounded, sunk or capsized.

19. Sailing Vessels Policy

Sailing vessels include country craft total and/or constructive total loss of the subject-matter insured attributable to fire or sinking or stranding.

Loss/Damage are also covered of subject-matter insured caused by jettison due to stress of weather stranding, sinking or burning or collision at sea.

20. Package Policy

This policy has been devised under the tariff to cater to the special requirements of certain categories of business such as tea estates, coffee estate and Export Promotion under Duty Exemption Scheme.