The BOC Blast 334 – Cargo Insurance

A Challenge to Shippers Who Would Never Dream of Controlling the Insurance

Shippers who rely on suppliers to furnish cargo insurance or who rely on their carriers to take responsibility for losses may be in for a big surprise. Protecting your investments by insuring your goods provides peace of mind.

Buying CIF: Who’s really responsible if your product is lost or damaged in transit? According to internationally accepted trade terms, referred to as Incoterms, suppliers selling “CIF” (Cost, Insurance, Freight) are responsible for arranging cargo insurance. But just because your supplier has the obligation to arrange insurance under CIF terms, it doesn’t mean that they are ultimately responsible if your product is lost or damaged during transit. The ultimate burden of loss falls upon you, the buyer. This is why many experts recommend importers change their buying terms to EXW, FOB, FCA, CFR or similar terms in order to control the selection, and thereby the quality, of insurance coverage.

How much is that insurance really costing you? Foreign suppliers and their forwarding agents often tack on placement fees to the insurance costs. Those added fees often inflate the cost of insurance well beyond market pricing for the same coverage purchased in the United States. Find out how much you’re really paying and then compare quotes received from BOC International.

Is the coverage your supplier purchased for you adequate? Importers relying on their suppliers to arrange insurance run the risk of having inadequate insurance coverage. Cargo insurance policies can vary widely in levels of coverage, deductibles and special restrictions. Ask your supplier for a complete copy of the insurance policy or for a certificate of insurance detailing all the policy terms and conditions

What’s the financial health of your supplier’s insurance company? Recent financial and catastrophic events have exposed the vulnerability of insurance companies to sudden economic devastation. Importers are encouraged to make certain their suppliers use insurers with a favorable financial rating supplied by a respected financial rating service. A.M. Best, Standard & Poor’s and Moody’s are among some of the world’s most respected. BOC’s insurance company, underwriters at Lloyd’s of London, has an A.M. Best financial rating of A (Excellent).

How will your claim be handled? If insurance is arranged overseas, will you be forced to  deal with an inexperienced, sub-contracted independent adjuster unfamiliar with the assessment of transportation related losses? Ask your supplier for a list of insurance claims adjusters contracted by the insurance company. Adjuster and surveyor networks approved by Lloyd’s of London and AIMA are among the most credible. BOC has a vested interest in your insurance needs and will directly handle cargo claim documentation requirements to ensure prompt processing and timely settlement.

Every Shipper Needs Cargo Insurance

Global trading involves risk; however, broad insurance coverage minimizes your financial risk. Don’t leave your livelihood up to chance! Statistics show that one ship sinks each day and you will experience a General Average loss every eight years. If you are depending on the carrier to cover losses, their responsibility is limited by law as follows:

Ocean Carriers           $500 per shipping unit

                                    A shipping unit may be defined as one ocean container.

Air Carriers                  $9.07 per pound

Truckers                      $.50 per pound

The insurance we offer is competitively priced and insures approved merchandise against physical loss or damage from external causes. By purchasing cargo insurance, you can avoid inconvenience and frustration. Contact your BOC Representative at 617-345-0050 for your free quote.

Are you familiar with GENERAL AVERAGE?

2019, year to date, there are a number of notable fire cases, with many resulting in General Average!

  • Sincerity Ace – January 2019
  • Maersk Honam – March 2018
  • Maersk Kensington – March 2018
  • Barcelona Ferry Excellent – October 2018
  • Hyundai Auto Banner – May 2018
  • MOL Prestige – February 2018
  • Caribbean Fantasy – June 2018
Yantian Express
Year built 2002, 100,003 dwt
Date of loss: 1/3/19 Part loaded with 4,000 teu
(capacity 7,551 teu.) 198 total loss, 462 damaged required survey LOF salvage – security 32.5% GA – security estimate 28%  
APL Vancouver
Year built 2013, 115,060 dwt
Date of loss: 1/31/19 Part loaded with
(capacity  9,200 teu.) 947 containers affected LOF salvage – security 15-20% GA – security  
ER KOBE
Year built 2001, 68,196 dwt
Date of loss: 2/24/19 GA declaration on
March 12, 2019 NO SEPARATE
SALVAGE CLAIM GA – security estimate 10%



General Average – The Concept

  • Formulated by the Ancient Greeks to deal with situations where cargo has been jettisoned.
  • Basic principle – that which has been sacrificed for the benefit of all shall be made good by the contribution of all.
  • Applies to maritime claims only.
  • Is declared by the captain when there is imminent danger to the vessel, voyage or crew.
  • You are contractually obligated, via the Bill of Lading, for unknown and undetermined costs. 

How does it work?

  • Value of the voyage is determined (vessel value plus value of all cargo on the vessel.)
  • Participation is determined by the percentage that the value of your cargo bears to the overall value of the voyage.
  • The loss amount is determined, and participation percentage is applied to the loss amount to determine security deposit.
  • Shipper or their cargo insurer pay twice – first for the initial contribution, then for a bond covering future adjustments to that estimate.

Hidden Costs

  • The great unknown (is my cargo OK?); delays – finding a port, unloading & sorting; has my shipment missed deadlines?
  • LCL Freight – has everyone in my container paid? Freight is not released until all payments received.


Difficulties of preventing and extinguishing fires on the open sea, include:

  • Ships are larger with more varied cargo.
  • Crew are ill equipped to deal with these fires.
  • Fire-fighting tugs are often days or weeks away.
  • Prevention is difficult, with rising problems with mis-declared cargo.
  • IMDG Code is evolving to impose stricter rules on dangerous goods (DG.)

Problems Facing the Industry

  • Stricter rules on DG will lead to higher costs and more incentive on the part of shippers to avoid proper declarations
  • Ship owners and shipbuilders need to improve fire-fighting capabilities with CO² systems being shown to be inadequate – cost benefit analysis – are potential losses greater than the prevention costs?
  • National Cargo Bureau in NY found in 2017 that of 1,721 stowage plans inspected, 20% showed errors with DG

General Average will never go away, so how do we make that less painful?

  • Awareness across all business units that losses & delays are part of any supply chain. Mission-critical shipments need more risk analysis to determine transport mode.
  • Understanding of what to do when General Average occurs. This is best led by your cargo insurance provider meeting with your ‘team,’ not just the risk manager or CFO.

When was the last time your insurance provider did this for you?

Do they know how to handle a GA claim?

  • Have a contingency plan or at least an understanding of how the event will unfold.