What Is Inland Marine Insurance?

What Is Inland Marine Insurance?

It sounds contradictory, but it’s a very helpful form of insurance.

Here’s what inland marine insurance is and why you need it.


As you may recall from our “History of Insurance” video, marine insurance was the first type of insurance available.

Back in the 1300’s, “shipping” was a very literal term. In order to get things from place to place, people relied on marine transportation—namely, ships. And because of the risk of storms, piracy, and other dangers, merchants needed coverage for the expensive cargo on those ships.

As time went on, however, larger cities began popping up much further away from the coast. These inland locations faced a completely different set of risks and therefore required a similar, but unique, type of insurance.

Thus, inland marine insurance was born.

If you’re a business owner, you might have heard this term from your insurance agent. But in case you haven’t, let’s take a look at this contradictory-sounding coverage and find out what inland marine insurance is all about.


What Is Inland Marine Insurance?

Inland marine insurance provides coverage for equipment, materials, and products being transported over land.

No, there is no “marine” transportation involved. This term arose from a similar type of coverage, ocean marine insurance, which covers goods being transported by sea. (There is also a third type—air cargo insurance—which covers goods being transported by air.)

Inland marine insurance is a valuable form of coverage.

Thankfully, inland marine policies have expanded to cover a vast number of property types:

  • Property transported over land (e.g. pallets of soda in an 18-wheeler);
  • Property temporarily stored by a third party (e.g. items held in customs);
  • Property permanently stored in a moving vehicle (e.g. an ice cream truck);
  • Infrastructure (e.g. cell phone tower or bridge);
  • Another person’s property stored at your fixed location (e.g. a Pepsi vending machine at your bookstore).

Inland marine insurance generally does not cover:

  • Vehicles
  • Earthquake and/or flood damage (water damage, however, is covered)
  • Damage that occurs prior to shipping
  • Property transported by sea or air.

It’s worth noting, however, that every policy is different and there are always exceptions to the rule. For more specific advice on your exact coverage, check or policy and/or speak to your insurance agent.

You might also be surprised to know that inland marine coverage isn’t just for businesses with their own fleet. Items that are shipped by a third party service (such as FedEx, UPS, or the postal service) can be covered by an inland marine policy as well.

If you ship things regularly, inland marine coverage can be cheaper than purchasing insurance for each individual package you mail.

Fine art is also covered by inland marine insurance.

Types of Inland Marine Coverage

There are five different categories of risk that inland marine insurance protects against.

  • Bailee’s customer coverage protects you from liability if a client’s property is damaged in your care.
  • Builder’s risk protects structures, materials, and equipment during construction.
  • Exhibition and fine art coverage protects valuable artifacts during exhibition and transit.
  • Installation floater coverage protects materials from the moment they are loaded onto a truck to the moment they are installed.
  • Motor truck cargo coverage protects goods being transported or delivered to a client.

Understanding each type of coverage will better help you and your independent insurance agent determine the best policy for you.


Who Needs It?

Anyone who regularly sends or transports goods, materials, or equipment over land can benefit from inland marine insurance.

When given this definition, most people tend to think of construction or trucking companies, but think outside the box!

Here is just a small sample of businesses that can (and should!) have inland marine coverage:

  • Business that attend trade shows, conventions, and exhibits
  • Retail stores (including e-commerce)
  • Party rental companies
  • Restoration companies
  • Museums/Art galleries
  • Mechanic shops
  • Landscapers
  • Food trucks
  • Caterers

Items shipped by a third party are eligible for inland marine coverage too.

What Does Inland Marine Insurance Cost?

No blog post can give you an accurate estimate of any insurance policy (and you shouldn’t trust the ones that try!).

As with any insurance premium, costs depend on a number of factors:

  • What’s being insured
  • Your coverage type and limits
  • The size and nature of your business
  • How the property is transported

One important thing to discuss with your insurance agent is whether you want an “all risks” or a “named perils” policy.

All risk policies cover damage and loss caused by anything that isn’t specifically excluded. Named peril policies only cover damage and loss caused by the risks specifically named in your contract.


Harry Levine Insurance Delivers

Inland marine insurance is far from a one-trick pony. Whether you’re shipping a pallet of soda across the state or attending a trade show, this valuable form of coverage can make sure you’re protected when you’re on the move.

But adequate protection requires more than a single policy.

To make sure you have the coverage you need, meet with an independent insurance agency, such as Harry Levine Insurance.

For more than 30 years, HLI has provided Central Florida businesses with top-quality customer service. We fully vet the insurance companies we work with to ensure that you receive only the best coverage while still respecting your budget.

Call today to see how we can help you!

About the Author

Jason received a Masters of Science & Management in Risk Management & Insurance from Florida State University. He has been with Harry Levine Insurance for 9 years and handles the leadership of daily operations. He was the 2013-2014 Florida Association of Insurance Agents Young Agent Council's Agent of the Year. Currently serves on FAIA Board of Directors.

Leave a Reply