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  • Writer's pictureVSI

Q. What is Transit insurance?

A. Transit insurance covers goods and/or merchandise while in ordinary transit from one location to another.

Q. If my transit carrier provides Insurance, why do I need to buy separate insurance?

A. Your own insurance policy can be designed to meet your specific needs. It can be tailored to ensure sufficient limits of liability, relevant types of coverage and also provides consolidated claims handling. It may also be a less expensive alternative to insurance provided by the transit carrier.

Q. What is the difference between inland transit and ocean cargo coverage?

A. Inland transit covers domestic transits via land conveyances and/or air shipments (domestic vessel transits are usually insured under an Ocean Cargo Policy). Ocean Cargo Insurance often provides coverage for international ocean and/or air shipments on a warehouse to warehouse basis (including the land connecting conveyance transits).

Q. What does warehouse to warehouse mean?

A. Coverage for Transit Insurance is often referred to as Warehouse to Warehouse. It is important to note however that coverage is actually determined by the terms of sale used in each transaction (F.O.B., etc.). Coverage is warehouse to warehouse only when the Insured is responsible to provide such coverage based on the sales terms. This coverage attaches at the point at which transit commences and terminates when the cargo is delivered to the final destination. Both the attachment and termination points may be far inland, many miles from the ports of loading and discharge.

Q. What is an "Open" marine cargo policy?

A. An "Open" marine cargo policy is designed for clients who have a regular turnover of Goods in Transit. The contract will cover all transits that come within the scope of the insurance. Premiums are debited monthly, quarterly or annually. The chief advantage of this type of policy is that the client does not need to report each shipment individually to ensure cover is in place. Instead, they declare shipments as required, or in bulk for a set period, on a set date. The policy is generally written on a wide basis to cover all goods and merchandise usual to the operation of the Insured. The Insured must present the Insurer with all the specific details of their business, including the type of goods involved, limits, and destinations. Shipments outside of the norm, or in excess of limits or geographic allowances, etc. must be reported in advance.

Q. Why are Certificates of Insurance for Cargo shipments different from an "Accord Form" certificate of insurance?

A. Ocean Marine Cargo Insurance Certificates which often accompany shipment documentation to third parties, are negotiable documents which entitle the bearer to collect claim settlement. Banks frequently request them in letter of credit transactions. An Accord Form Certificate of Insurance simply provides evidence of coverage in place.

Q. Why do I need War Risks Insurance?

A. Marine cargo policies always contain a FC&S (Free of Capture & Seizure) clause, which excludes war risks, strikes, riots and civil commotions and similar risks. A specific agreement must be made for an additional premium to be paid if these perils are to be insured. There are three Institute War Clauses covering cargo, air cargo, and postal shipments. War Risk rates are set by the London Market War Risks Rating Committee or the American Market War/SR&CC Schedule. The political and social climates of a given country determine the rates. The aforementioned committees keenly monitor these forces, and update the war rates frequently as conflicts often arise suddenly.

Q. What is a General Average?

A.A loss arising through a voluntary sacrifice of any part of the ship or cargo, or an expenditure to safeguard the ship and the rest of the cargo. When the vessel owner declares a general average, the vessel owner and all the cargo interests will share the expenses associated with the general average on a pro-rata basis. These expenses are covered under your Marine Cargo Policy. Such losses can be significant and may require letters of guarantee to have the cargo released. A letter of guarantee would be issued by the cargo underwriters and is an agreement to meet the Insured's liability for contribution.

Q. What is a "free of particular average" (FPA) policy ('C' Clauses)?

A. An FPA policy is probably the most restrictive type of cargo insurance available. An FPA policy covers goods against total loss by marine perils. Partial losses, other than General Average losses, are recoverable only in certain cases. There are two FPA clauses in Canada, the American conditions and the English conditions. Each covers different partial losses, depending on the peril which caused the loss. This coverage is now generally referred to as Institute Cargo Clauses (C), or 'C' Clauses.

Q. What is a "with average" policy ('B' Clauses)?

A. This type of policy offers broader coverage than an FPA policy and covers partial losses caused by perils of the sea when they reach a certain percentage of the insured value. This is called a "franchise" and is usually about 3%. This coverage is now generally referred to as Institute Cargo Clauses (A), or 'A' Clauses.

Q. What is an "all risks" policy ('A' Clauses)?

A. An all-risks policy covers all transportation risks. However, unless specifically included, it will not cover loss of market, loss or damage caused by delay, inherent vice of the goods, war, strikes, riots or civil commotions. This coverage is now generally referred to as Institute Cargo Clauses (A), or 'A' Clauses.

Q. What is a bill of lading? A.A bill of lading is the most common form of affreightment which serves three purposes: it is the contract of carriage between the shipowner and shipper, outlining the liability of carrier, the shipowner's receipt for the goods; and the document of title to them (as a negotiable document, interest can be assigned to a third party through the bill of lading).

Q. What are the "Incoterms"?

A. Incoterms precisely define the responsibilities of the buyer and the seller and are recognized as the international standard by custom authorities and courts in all the main trading nations. They are standard trade definitions and are issued by the International Chamber of Commerce. Incoterms reduce the risk of misunderstandings and legal disputes. Incoterms also specify the loading and unloading responsibilities of the buyer and seller. There are 13 Incoterms, each denoted by a 3-letter code. The terms are grouped in four categories based on the first letter in the three-letter abbreviation.

  • Under the "E"-term (EXW), the seller only makes the goods available to the buyer at the seller's own premises. It is the only one of that category.

  • Under the "F"-terms (FCA, FAS and FOB), the seller is called upon to deliver the goods to a carrier appointed by the buyer.

  • Under the "C"-terms (CFR, CIF, CPT and CIP), the seller has to contract for carriage, but without assuming the risk of loss or damage to the goods or additional costs due to events occurring after shipment or dispatch.

  • Under the "D"-terms (DAF, DES, DEQ, DDU and DDP), the seller has to bear all costs and risks needed to bring the goods to the place of destination.

Q. What information does the underwriter need to provide a fair and accurate quote?

A. An underwriter with few facts is a pessimist. The more information one is able to provide about one's insurance needs, the more optimistic an underwriter is likely to be. To enable an underwriter to assess the risk and give a competitive set of rates, the following information is essential:


A history of the Insured's business operations.



Destinations, Ports.


Information pertaining to any Inland Transit before loading and after discharge, particularly if of long duration and transport facilities are poor.

Questions that the underwriter will assess are the susceptibility of the goods to:


Damage through breakage, leakage, sweating, spontaneous combustion, rapid deterioration due to wetting, climate conditions, etc.


Theft and pilferage.

Also, if one is an importer/exporter arranging his own insurance the following points will apply:

A) Age, tonnage and ownership of the vessel. In recent years, one of the main concerns has been in respect to sub-standard vessels, bad management and flag of convenience vessels.

B) Packing and method of transit, i.e., Full Container Loads.

C) Length of voyage and time of year.

D) Moral hazard of buyer and seller.

Q. What does "uberias fides"(utmost good faith) mean?

A. Mutual trust in negotiating an insurance contract. The Insured must fully disclose all aspects of their request for coverage completely and truthfully. A breach of good faith by one party entitles the other to avoid the contract.

Q. What happens if I under-value a shipment for insurance purposes?

A. The value of the shipment declared for insurance must reflect the true value of a shipment. If a loss occurs and the amount declared is found to be less than the true value, the claim settlement may be pro-rated to a lesser amount. It is as if the insured is acting as a co-insurer of the shipment.

Q. What do I do when I discover a loss or damage to a shipment?

A. Follow the instructions outlined on your Certificate of Insurance. Report the loss to the carrier in writing and notify them that you intend to claim for the loss. Contact the surveyor at the destination that is usually shown on the Certificate of Insurance who will attend and establish the cause and extent of the loss. Advise your broker, who will assist with managing the claims process.

Q. How should an insured act in the event of a claim for loss or damage?

A. The assured must at all times act in the same manner as they would if they were uninsured. They must act as a "prudent uninsured". This is the basis on which all insurance is governed.

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