Marine insurance covers the loss or damage of ships, cargo, terminals, and any transport or cargo by which the property is transferred, acquired, or held between the points of origin and the final destination. Cargo insurance is the sub-branch of marine insurance, though Marine insurance also includes Onshore and Offshore exposed property, (container terminals, ports, oil platforms, pipelines), Hull, Marine Casualty, and Marine Liability. When goods are transported by mail or courier, shipping insurance is used instead.
Marine insurance was the earliest well-developed kind of insurance, with origins in the Greek and Roman marine loan. Separate marine insurance contracts were developed in Genoa and other Italian cities in the fourteenth century and spread to northern Europe. Premiums varied with intuitive estimates of the variable risk from seasons and pirates. Modern marine insurance law originated in the Lex mercatoria (law merchant). In 1601, a specialized chamber of assurance separate from the other Courts was established in England. By the end of the seventeenth century, London's growing importance as a centre for trade was increasing demand for marine insurance. In the late 1680s, Edward Lloyd opened a coffee house on Tower Street in London. It soon became a popular haunt for ship owners, merchants, and ships' captains, and thereby a reliable source of the latest shipping news.
Lloyd's Coffee House was the first marine insurance market. It became the meeting place for parties in the shipping industry wishing to insure cargoes and ships, and those willing to underwrite such ventures. These informal beginnings led to the establishment of the insurance market Lloyd's of London and several related shipping and insurance businesses. The participating members of the insurance arrangement eventually formed a committee and moved to the Royal Exchange on Cornhill as the Society of Lloyd's. The establishment of insurance companies, a developing infrastructure of specialists (such as shipbrokers, admiralty lawyers, bankers, surveyors, loss adjusters, general average adjusters, et al.), and the growth of the British Empire gave English law a prominence in this area which it largely maintains and forms the basis of almost all modern practice. Lord Mansfield, Lord Chief Justice in the mid-eighteenth century, began the merging of law merchant and common law principles. The growth of the London insurance market led to the standardization of policies and judicial precedent further developed marine insurance law. In 1906 the Marine Insurance Act codified the previous common law; it is both an extremely though and concise piece of work. Although the title of the Act refers to marine insurance, the general principles have been applied to all non-life insurance. In the 19th century, Lloyd's and the Institute of London Underwriters (a grouping of London company insurers) developed between them standardized clauses for the use of marine insurance, and these have been maintained since. These are known as the Institute Clauses because the Institute covered the cost of their publication. Out of marine insurance, grew non-marine insurance and reinsurance. Marine insurance traditionally formed the majority of business underwritten at Lloyd's. Nowadays, Marine insurance is often grouped with Aviation and Transit (cargo) risks, and in this form is known by the acronym 'MAT'.
It is common for marine insurance agencies to compete with the offerings provided by local insurers. These specialist agencies often fill market gaps by providing cover for hard-to-place or obscure marine insurance risks that would otherwise be difficult or impossible to find insurance cover for. These agencies can become quite large and eventually become market makers. They operate best when their day to day management is independent of the insurers who provide them with the capital to underwrite risks on their behalf. In Australia, an example of a market failure is Associated Marine Insurers (Agents) Pty Ltd who for decades were jointly owned by insurers, Zurich Australia and CGU Insurance (an offshoot of Commercial Union Insurance). Following a change in CGU's ownership structure Zurich took over ownership of Associated Marine 100%. That marked the downfall of Associated Marine who found  their strategy dictated by an insurer who was ignorant of the nuances of an specialist agency. In its heyday, Associated Marine provided much needed specialist insurance to the Australian Marine market. Today, the company has all but been absorbed into Zurich Australian operations and, following restructure upon restructure and many staff redundancies it is a shadow of its former self to the point where it is of very little significance in the market.
The Marine Insurance Act includes, as a schedule, a standard policy (known as the "SG form"), which parties were at liberty to use if they wished. Because each term in the policy had been tested through at least two centuries of judicial precedent, the policy was extremely thorough. However, it was also expressed in rather archaic terms. In 1991, the London market produced a new standard policy wording known as the MAR 91 form using the Institute Clauses. The MAR form is simply a general statement of insurance; the Institute Clauses are used to set out the detail of the insurance cover. In practice, the policy document usually consists of the MAR form used as a cover, with the Clauses stapled to the inside. Typically, each clause will be stamped, with the stamp overlapping both onto the inside cover and to other clauses; this practice is used to avoid the substitution or removal of clauses.because marine insurance is typically underwritten on a subscription basis, the MAR form begins: We, the Underwriters, agree to bind ourselves each for his own part and not one for another [...]. In legal terms, liability under the policy is several and not joint, i.e., the underwriters are all liable together, but only for their share or proportion of the risk. If one underwriter should default, the remainder are not liable to pick his share of the claim. Typically, marine insurance is split between the vessels and the cargo. Insurance of the vessels is generally known as "Hull and Machinery" (H&M). A more restricted form of cover is "Total Loss Only" (TLO), generally used as a reinsurance, which only covers the total loss of the vessel and not any partial loss. Cover may be on either a "voyage" or "time" basis. The "voyage" basis covers transit between the ports set out in the policy; the "time" basis covers a period, typically one year, and is more common.
A marine policy typically covered only three-quarter of the insured's liabilities towards third parties (Institute Time Clauses Hulls 1.10.83). The typical liabilities arise in respect of collision with another ship, known as "running down" (collision with a fixed object is a "allision"), and wreck removal (a wreck may serve to block a harbour, for example). In the 19th century, shipowners banded together in mutual underwriting clubs known as Protection and Indemnity Clubs (P&I), to insure the remaining one-quarter liability amongst themselves. These Clubs are still in existence today and have become the model for other specialized and noncommercial marine and non-marine mutuals, for example in relation to oil pollution and nuclear risks. Clubs work on the basis of agreeing to accept a shipowner as a member and levying an initial "call" (premium). With the fund accumulated, reinsurance will be purchased; however, if the loss experience is unfavourable one or more "supplementary calls" may be made. Clubs also typically try to build up reserves, but this puts them at odds with their mutual status.Because liability regimes vary throughout the world, insurers are usually careful to limit or exclude American Jones Act liability.
These two terms are used to differentiate the degree of proof where a vessel or cargo has been lost. An actual total loss occurs where the damages or cost of repair clearly equal or exceed the value of the property. A constructive total loss is a situation where the cost of repairs plus the cost of salvage equal or exceed the value. The use of these terms is contingent on there being property remaining to assess damages, which is not always possible in losses to ships at sea or in total theft situations. In this respect, marine insurance differs from non-marine insurance, where the insured is required to prove his loss. Traditionally, in law, marine insurance was seen as an insurance of "the adventure", with insurers having a stake and an interest in the vessel and/or the cargo rather than simply an interest in the financial consequences of the subject-matter's survival.
The term "constructive total loss" was also used by the United States Navy during World War II to describe naval vessels that were damaged to such an extent that they were beyond economical repair. This was most often applied to destroyer-type ships in 1945, the last year of the war, many which were damaged by kamikazes. By this time enough ships were available for the war that some could be disposed of if severely damaged.
Average in Marine Insurance Terms is "an equitable apportionment among all the interested parties of an such an expense or loss."
General Average stands apart for Marine Insurance. In order for General Average to be properly declared, 1) there must be an event which is beyond the shipowners control, which imperils the entire adventure; 2) there must be a voluntary sacrifice, 3) there must be something saved. The voluntary sacrifice might be the jettison of certain cargo, the use of tugs, or salvors, or damage to the ship, be it, voluntary grounding, knowingly working the engines that will result in damages. "General Average" requires all parties concerned in the maritime venture (Hull/Cargo/Freight/Bunkers) to contribute to make good the voluntary sacrifice. They share the expense in proportion to the 'value at risk" in the adventure. "Particular Average" is the term applied to partial loss be it hull or cargo.
Average – is the situation where an insured has under-insured, i.e., insured an item for less than it is worth, average will apply to reduce the claim amount payable. An average adjuster is a marine claims specialist responsible for adjusting and providing the general average statement. An Average Adjuster in North America is a 'member of the association of Average Adjusters' To insure the fairness of the adjustment a General Average adjuster is appointed by the shipowner and paid by the insurer.
An excess is the amount payable by the insured and is usually expressed as the first amount falling due, up to a ceiling, in the event of a loss. An excess may or may not be applied. It may be expressed in either monetary or percentage terms. An excess is typically used to discourage moral hazard and to remove small claims, which are disproportionately expensive to handle. The term "excess" signifies the "deductible" or "retention".
A co-insurance, which typically governs non-proportional treaty reinsurance, is an excess expressed as a proportion of a claim in percentage terms and applied to the entirety of a claim. Co-insurance is a penalty imposed on the insured by the insurance carrier for under reporting/declaring/insuring the value of tangible property or business income. The penalty is based on a percentage stated within the policy and the amount under reported. As an example: a vessel actually valued at $1,000,000 has an 80% co-insurance clause but is insured for only $750,000. Since its insured value is less than 80% of its actual value, when it suffers a loss, the insurance payout will be subject to the under-reporting penalty, the insured will receive 750000/1000000th (75%) of the claim made less the deductible.
These are both obsolete forms of early reinsurance. Both are technically unlawful, as not having insurable interest, and so were unenforceable in law. Policies were typically marked P.P.I. (Policy is Proof of Interest). Their use continued into the 1970s before they were banned by Lloyd's, the main market, by which time, they had become nothing more than crude bets. A "tonner" was simply a "policy" setting out the global gross tonnage loss for a year. If that loss was reached or exceeded, the policy paid out. A "chinaman" applied the same principle but in reverse: thus, if the limit was not reached, the policy paid out.
Various specialist policies exist, including:
A peculiarity of marine insurance, and insurance law generally, is the use of the terms condition and warranty. In English law, a condition typically describes a part of the contract that is fundamental to the performance of that contract, and, if breached, the non-breaching party is entitled not only to claim damages but to terminate the contract on the basis that it has been repudiated by the party in breach.
By contrast, a warranty is not fundamental to the performance of the contract and breach of a warranty, while giving rise to a claim for damages, does not entitle the non-breaching party to terminate the contract. The meaning of these terms is reversed in insurance law. Indeed, a warranty if not strictly complied with will automatically discharge the insurer from further liability under the contract of insurance. The assured has no defense to his breach, unless he can prove that the insurer, by his conduct, has waived his right to invoke the breach, possibility provided in section 34(3) of the Marine Insurance Act 1906 (MIA). Furthermore, in the absence of express warranties the MIA will imply them, notably a warranty to provide a seaworthy vessel at the commencement of the voyage in a voyage policy (section 39(1)) and a warranty of legality of the insured voyage (section 41).
The term "salvage" refers to the practice of rendering aid to a vessel in distress. Apart from the consideration that the sea is traditionally "a place of safety", with sailors honour-bound to render assistance as required, it is obviously in underwriters' interests to encourage assistance to vessels in danger of being wrecked. A policy will usually include a "sue and labour" clause which will cover the reasonable costs incurred by a shipowner in his avoiding a greater loss.
At sea, a ship in distress will typically agree to "Lloyd's Open Form" with any potential salvor. The Lloyd's Open Form (LOF) is the standard contract, although other forms exist. The Lloyd's Open Form is headed "No cure — no pay"; the intention being that if the attempted salvage is unsuccessful, no award will be made. However, this principle has been weakened in recent years, and awards are now permitted in cases where, although the ship might have sunk, pollution has been avoided or mitigated.
In other circumstances the "salvor" may invoke the SCOPIC terms (most recent and commonly used rendition is SCOPIC 2000) in contrast to the LOF these terms mean that the salvor will be paid even if the salvage attempt is unsuccessful. The amount the salvor receives is limited to cover the costs of the salvage attempt and 25% above it. One of the main negative factors in invoking SCOPIC (on the salvor's behalf) is if the salvage attempt is successful the amount at which the salvor can claim under article 13 of LOF is discounted.
The Lloyd's Open Form, once agreed, allows salvage attempts to begin immediately. The extent of any award is determined later; although the standard wording refers to the Chairman of Lloyd's arbitrating any award, in practice the role of arbitrator is passed to specialist admiralty QCs. A ship captured in war is referred to as a prize, and the captors entitled to prize money. Again, this risk is covered by standard policies.
The examples and perspective in this section may not represent a worldwide view of the subject. (October 2016) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)
The most important sections of this Act include::§4: a policy without insurable interest is void.:§17: imposes a duty on the insured of uberrimae fides (as opposed to caveat emptor), i.e., that questions must be answered honestly and the risk not misrepresented.:§18: the proposer of the insurer has a duty to disclose all material facts relevant to the acceptance and rating of the risk. Failure to do so is known as non-disclosure or concealment (there are minor differences in the two terms) and renders the insurance voidable by the insurer.:§33(3): If [a warranty] be not [exactly] complied with, then, subject to any express provision in the policy, the insurer is discharged from liability as from the date of the breach of warranty, but without prejudice to any liability incurred by him before that date.:§34(2): where a warranty has been broken, it is no defence to the insured that the breach has been remedied, and the warranty complied with, prior to the loss.:§34(3): a breach of warranty may be waived (ignored) by the insurer.:§39(1): implied warranty that the vessel must be seaworthy at the start of her voyage and for the purpose of it (voyage policy only).:§39(5): no warranty that a vessel shall be seaworthy during the policy period (time policy). However, if the assured knowingly allows an unseaworthy vessel to set sail the insurer is not liable for losses caused by unseasworthiness.:§50: a policy may be assigned. Typically, a shipowner might assign the benefit of a policy to the ship-mortgagor.:§§60-63: deals with the issues of a constructive total loss. The insured can, by notice, claim for a constructive total loss with the insurer becoming entitled to the ship or cargo if it should later turn up. (By contrast an actual total loss describes the physical destruction of a vessel or cargo.):§79: deals with subrogation, i.e., the rights of the insurer to stand in the shoes of an indemnified insured and recover salvage for his own benefit. Schedule 1 of the Act contains a list of definitions; schedule 2 contains the model policy wording.
Marine insurance is always written on an occurrence basis, covering claims that arise out of damage or injury that took place during the policy period, regardless of when claims are made. Policy features often include extensions of coverage for items typical to a marine business such as liability for container damage and removal of debris.
A deductible is the first amount of a claim that the policy holders bears themselves. There can occasionally be a zero deductible but in most cases a deductible applies to claims made under a policy of marine insurance.