Marine Insurance

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The marine industry serves as an important connection bridge in international trade, and the cargo vessels are the most efficient, and probably the only means to transport large volumes of finished goods and commodities. In a global economy, bulk carriers are crucial, as they cover a huge range of products. For instance, Coal, Sulphur, Cement, Grain, Iron ore, Fertilizers, and Sugar are the commonly supplied dry bulk materials.
Generally, these raw materials are not packaged individually but shipped in bulk. So it is always important to opt for marine cargo insurance to get a cover against such hazards.  Most of the dry loads are known as ‘hazardous goods.’ Hence, they need special care and attention in loading, unloading, and transportation. The carriage of solid cargoes has common hazards that every importer and exporter should know.

Cargo Falls from Height

Cargoes such as quartz, iron ore, and steel scraps have high densities. Hence, cargo may fall from a height while performing cargo operations. It may either fall from discharging grab or conveyor belt to the ship deck. Workers may incur injury on deck if a lump hits them. It can even cause death. So, responsible supervisors should always monitor the cargo operation. Make sure no one is present in the working area during operations. Make sure the persons in the loading service wear safety gear like safety shoes, helmets, and highlighting vests.

Cargo Shift

It is one of the greatest threats to bulk cargo shipments, especially when it comes to carrying grain cargo. Grain settles on around 2% of volume. Small void spaces are present on the top of the surface. The grain may shift in these vacant spaces. So, it is important to conduct trimming to reduce the risk of cargo shifting. Grain is free-flowing, which can affect the vessel’s stability.

Dust from Cargo

In bulk carriers, dust is another common hazard. Most bulk cargoes have dust. Inhaling these fine dust particles may take a toll on worker’s health due to the exposure. Dust can cause eye irritation and sneezing. So while loading or unloading cargo, it should be made sure that everyone wears a respirator. Make sure deck machinery is safe from dust. Renew the filters when soiled.


Preparing cargo for the next carriage is an important part of carrier operations. Lack of preparation can cause problems in cargo quality like water ingress, contamination, or cargo loss. The dust and residues of the last cargo may contaminate the loaded bulk cargo and cause stains. When contaminated by the remains of the last cargo, cement may lose its binding strength.
If unrefined sugar is stored above or near refined sugar, it can cause damage with draining syrup. Water ingress may cause leakage in hatch covers, leaking manhole lids, backflow with bilge systems, and improper care.


It is yet another common hazard in bulk cargoes. Several bulk cargoes are likely to heat because of the oxidation process in the voyage. Some of the general cargoes like sulfur, coal, fishmeal, and cotton may cause consistent heat. Coal also emits flammable gas like methane. It can form an explosive blend when mixed with air. Certain cargoes like Sulphur create dust, which may ignite and explode. So, it is important to take fire precautions strictly on bulk carriers. Even better, you may look for a marine insurance policy, which also covers fire hazards during shipment.

Loss of Oxygen

Organic cargoes like paper pulp, wood, and agricultural goods may cause severe and constant oxygen depletion and release carbon dioxide. Though it seems safe, these shipments may take a toll on workers’ life. The confined spaces in bulk carriers may develop a toxic atmosphere.  It can cause various fatal accidents. Some of the cargoes that deplete oxygen are coal, sponge iron, fertilizers based on ammonium nitrate, sulfide concentrates, direct reduced iron, and lint cottonseed, etc. These goods also release gasses like carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, hydrocarbons, and Hydrogen Sulphide. Ensure proper testing and ventilation of the atmosphere before allowing entry of personnel in such enclosed spaces.

The ship, as a carrier, should take proper care of the cargo to ensure safe loading and discharge. Consult the IMSBC code to ensure safe cargo transport and shipment. Adopt good seamanship and precautions to reduce and overcome risks due to bulk shipments.

For a better understanding of the risks your cargo can be exposed to and insure it against all such risks, you can connect to the online insurance advisor SecureNow. SecureNow provides comparable quotes from various insurers in India and offers policy management and claim settlement support as well.