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The World Shipping Council (WSC) estimated that approximately 130 million, fully loaded containers, valued more than $4 trillion were transported internationally in 2016. The safe and successful transportation of goods across vast ocean distances relies heavily on accurate weight declaration, as well as the correct packing, stowing and securing of containers. However, even with expert packing and loading of goods and containers, severe weather and catastrophic events such as collisions and groundings can result in the loss of valuable cargo at sea. In Oct 2011 MV Rena ran aground on the Astrolabe Reef, in the Bay of Plenty, New Zealand en route to Touranga, eventually succumbing to the elements and splitting in two in Jan 2012. The New Zealand Environment Minister Nick Smith declared the incident the worst maritime disaster in the country’s history.

In their 2017 update, the WTC estimated that there were approximately 568 containers lost at sea per year between 2008 and 2016 to events that were not considered to be catastrophic. The WTC also estimated that 1,582 containers were lost at sea each year, during the same period, due to catastrophic events. The number of containers lost at sea is relatively minimal compared to the amount that successfully reaches their destination, but the loss of cargo can be financially devastating to small and large businesses alike and hence the importance of marine insurance for importers and exporters.

Marine cargo insurance provides coverage against the physical loss or damage of goods and livestock during import or export, to and from Australia. There are a multitude of policies available and choosing the insurance policy that best suits your requirements can be a complex process. It pays to seek expert advice as oversights in the level of coverage provided can be costly, especially in the event of a disaster. While every care is taken to manage and handle shipments with care, accidents and natural disasters can and do happen. Importers, exporters and handlers that do not obtain marine insurance for their international shipments are exposed to high financial risks.

As industry-recognised experts, Avion International Freight Forwarders understand the importance of insurance and refer clients to a reliable and trusted insurance company who are eager to help with any Marine insurance requirements. As per Standard Trading Conditions (STC), freight forwarders typically have limited liability for claims for damage or loss of goods while in their care. Separate cargo insurance is therefore essential and should be obtained prior to booking the shipment of any cargo. Marine insurance policies can cover the entire transportation process-over land and sea, and the type of coverage depends on your business needs, trading patterns and type of cargo.

The Future of International Shipping

International shipping is set to be revolutionised with the first autonomous, unmanned vessel launching in 2020. The Norwegian vessel will operate close to the Norwegian coastline as unmanned ships are not permitted in international waters at present. However, the United Nations (UN) International Maritime Organisation (IMO), initiated discussions to allow unmanned cargo ships to traverse the oceans. While this move could lead to job losses in the maritime sector, it would also result in cheaper shipping with fewer accidents and hence less expensive Maritime insurance.