Importance of documents in Marine Hull claims

From the age of Lloyds, who have introduced the Marine branch as one of the branches of General Insurance Business, most of the Insurers do not prefer to underwrite Marine Hull business because of their claim experience. In most of the Marine Hull claims, the claims are not settled promptly because of inadequate documents collected from the insureds. From the starting point – underwriting of marine hull business, the proposal forms are not printed in vernacular language. Marine Hull business is mostly promoted in the fishermen community who are illiterate or not enthusiastic to develop their awareness in knowing the terms and conditions of this insurance business. On the other part, the insurers are also not providing proper details to them because of their lack of interest in the development of this business. Given the different nature of developments, operations and hazards encountered in various types of Marine Hull Claims, the gist of the important documents for Marine Hull Claims is given below:- Generally, there are the following types of Marine Hull Claims are reported to the insurers.
  1. P. A.
  2. Total Loss / Constructive Total Loss
  3. General Average
  4. Salvage charges
  5. Sue & Labour Charges
  6. Collision Liability / T.P. Liability
  7. P & I Section
On receipt of intimation of the loss from the insured, at the first stage, one has to see that the ill-fated vessel is covered under the policy and premium is paid in advance by the insured. Because, most of the Marine Hull policies are issued on installment basis and now, the automatic renewal clause has been removed from the tariff and it is replaced with the premium installment clause which is applicable if the insured has paid the installment before the expiry date of installment under the policy. Clause proximity is also to be noted with the acceptance of risk. Above all, one has to see is there any changes in the ownership of the vessel? Like motor insurance, the effects of automatic transfer in the ownership are not given. In Marine Hull Claims, the surveyors are appointed to do the job of the survey as well as an investigation but, in case of total loss as well as missing of the insured vessel the investigation will be helpful in the veracity of the claims.

Important documents required for the settlement of claims are as under:-

For the convenience, the entire Marine Hull Claims may be decided as per the following:-
  • Ocean-going vessels
  • Builders risks
  • Sunday vessels like fishing vessels, sailing vessels, inland vessels, etc. The requirements and importance of documents for fishing vessels as well as sailing vessel claims which are mainly reported are discussed here.
For fishing vessels, the following documents are very important and it should be collected invariably:
  1. Registration certificate of the fishing vessels. It is just like the RC Book as used for the vehicles.
  2. Copy of creek pass effective on the date of loss. It is just like Driving license as used by the owners of the vehicles.
  3. The weather report on the relevant place, date and time issued by the competent person.
  4. Affidavits and/or statements recorded by the competent person like Notary Public, Port Officer, etc.
  5. In case of the total loss of the fishing vessel-certificate of cancellation of Registration Certificate
  6. Marine Casualty Certificate issued by the competent person notifying the loss of life and/or total loss of the fishing vessel.
  7. For repairing the job as well as salvaging of the ill-fated vessel the copies of documents of rescuing vessels and its payment vouchers must be collected in original. So also in case of sue and labor charges, salvage charges, all the bills/receipts in support of such claims must be collected in original.
  8. Survey/investigation report with photographs, if, any
  9. Passbook /Log Book, as at many places the port/custom authorities’ issues passbook/logbook in which the details of the trips are recorded.
Whereas in the case of the sailing vessel the following documents are required,
  • A certified copy of the Sindel’s note of protest or declarations made before a Notary Public, a magistrate or any custom/port authorities.
  • Weather report from the meteorological department on weather condition at the time of the casualty at the relevant place
  • Certificate of inspection
  • Certificate of registration, in case of TL, it should be canceled
  • Freeboard certificate before commencement of the voyage
  • Cargo manifest
  • Port clearance certificate
  • Marine Casualty form issued by MMD in case of TL
  • Preliminary as well as the final survey report along with the photographs.

After receipt of all required claim documents, one has to see the following things also:-

  • In case of individual policy the claim may be paid to the insured but, if there is any assignment then after collecting “NOC” from the said agency thereafter claim may be disbursed.
  • An original insurance policy must be collected duly discharged by the insured, in case of TL/CTL claims
  • In the case of TL/CTL, the number of remaining installments must be deducted from the claim amount.
In the end, like any other claims, in case of Marine Hull claims, one should pay attention to the date of acceptance of the risks to avoid the proximity, and also the type of the reported loss and the perils giving rise to the loss is the same as covered under the policy. These two things will also help to support the recovery rights if any. NB: The underwriting aspects may differ from company to company. Please refer to terms & conditions for details.


Mr.N. D. Vaishnav

Published in The Insurance Times, February 2009

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