Commercial property insurance generally provides protection for supplies, products, and equipment while they’re on a company’s property. Whenever these items are in transit and not on a company's property, though, commercial property insurance policies usually don’t provide much protection. Instead, Massachusetts businesses usually need another type of insurance to insure inventory and supplies that are in transit. This is just what inland marine insurance is designed to do.
Inland marine insurance is a specialized form of property coverage. It’s specifically designed to insure items while they’re being shipped over land. A policy might be used to insure small or large items (e.g. product samples or construction equipment). A policy may cover items while they’re being transported by a business itself or by a third-party carrier.
“Inland marine” was originally used to distinguish inland marine coverage from ocean marine coverage. In the days before trucks, trains, and airplanes, goods were often sent by boat. Ocean marine policies provided protection for items while they were on ships crossing the sea, while inland marine policies offered protection once items were transported onto boats that traversed inland waterways.
Many different types of businesses may benefit from the protections that inland marine coverage offers. For instance:
(Whether a specific policy would provide protection for these types of incidents depends on that policy’s terms, conditions, and exclusions. Many inland marine policies, however, offer coverage for incidents similar to these examples).
Additionally, some Massachusetts residents might want an inland marine policy. Online shoppers, in particular, can often benefit from the protections that a policy affords. Products bought online often aren’t insured by homeowners policies until they’re received. An inland marine policy may offer protection for purchases until they’re received.
Even though third-party carriers often provide some insurance, businesses sometimes should still purchase an inland marine policy. Unless a business pays for additional coverage, the protection offered by a carrier’s insurance policy is often minimal. In many cases, an inland marine policy offers better coverage than a carrier’s basic insurance and is cheaper than purchasing additional coverage from a carrier for each shipment.
Businesses and residents in Massachusetts who are interested in inland marine insurance should contact their independent insurance agent. Agents don’t advertise inland marine coverage as much as some other types of insurance, but most independent agents are able to help businesses and individuals find inland marine policies.