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Cargo Owner’s Liability

Insurance for cargo owners covering legal and/or contractual liability costs and expenses during ocean transportation and storage of goods during transit.


Enhances cargo, general, and pollution liability policies by providing protection during ocean transportation.


Reduces ambiguity in policy language for waterborne liabilities.


Addresses third-party property damage or bodily injury liability claims.

Cargo owners can be exposed to liability risks for property damage, bodily injury to third parties, or even as a result of pollution from a cargo event in ocean transit. New risks — from transporting products with lithium-ion batteries to the increased size of container ships — are generating greater demand for more comprehensive liability coverage solutions.

Cargo owner’s liability insurance is designed for cargo owners, controllers, shippers, consignees, and traders of cargo. The policy provides cover for your legal and/or contractual liability, including legal expenses while your cargo is onboard a vessel, in port drayage (transporting of goods a short distance overland at a port or terminal), or in shoreside storage while in ordinary course of transit.

Key benefits

  • Affirmative coverage for a cargo owner’s liability exposures.
  • Potential liability limits of more than US$100 million.
  • Robust global marketplace of insurers to access competitive insurance quotes.
  • Tailored insurance from leading global insurers that dovetails with general liability and pollution legal liability policies that may be limited in scope.

In addition, our dedicated marine cargo claims advocacy team offers a range of services beyond traditional claims handling. We can help you reduce costs and maximize efficiencies in casualty and property claims before, during, and after a loss. Through our range of claims services, we have the skills and resources you need to meet your claims scenario, however large or complex.


A cargo owner’s liability risk stems from the possibility of being exposed to a claim for property damage (including loss of use) and/or bodily injury liability from:

  • A third party with the resultant defense-related costs.
  • Pollution of/from the cargo where you as a cargo owner are legally or contractually liable.

The key coverages offered under a cargo owner’s liability policy are: third-party bodily injury, death, property damage, pollution-related cleanup costs, loss of use, and defense and litigation costs. Lastly, the policy provides coverage for demurrage (charges levied against the cargo owner for delaying vessel operations) arising from bodily injury or property damage liability from your cargo. 

Purchasing a cargo owner’s liability policy provides more seamless coverage by reducing ambiguity and responding more effectively to third parties’ liabilities arising from your transportation of goods onboard vessels, conveyances, and while in storage and during transit.

The International Maritime Organization’s Dangerous Goods Code provides lists of individual substances, materials, and articles that are dangerous, and details on packing, container traffic, and stowage. There is additional information on goods that should be segregated during transportation. 

Why Marsh

At Marsh, we have a deep history in transport supply chain models and risk mitigation. Our industry and placement specialists can offer you their expertise and long-established relationships across global markets to identify the optimal market solutions tailored to your unique business needs.

With our team, you not only gain an in-depth understanding of your existing risk profile and potential gaps, but also can establish a plan for emerging challenges in your industry. And, in the event you need to pursue third parties in recourse of insured (subrogated) or uninsured (recovery) losses, our in-house reclaim services team is here to help.

Transporting lithium-ion batteries: Know your risk

Given fire hazards associated with shipping lithium-ion batteries, cargo owners can help manage this risk by following our three key steps. 

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