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What the Heck Is Inland Marine Insurance?


Inland marine insurance is a type of small business coverage designed to protect business property while it’s transported over land. Read on to learn the details of what it can cover and whether you should consider an inland marine policy for your business.

Inland Marine Insurance: Protection for Property Transported Over Land

A brief history lesson: although inland marine insurance isn’t meant to cover goods transported over water, the name has its roots in “ocean marine insurance.” In the insurance industry’s early days, maritime transport was still the fastest – and riskiest – way to move goods. But the invention of trains and automobiles created attractive new ground shipping capabilities, which came with their own risks. Thus the inland marine insurance product was born.

An inland marine policy typically covers property that’s…

  • Actively in transit.
  • Used to facilitate transportation (e.g., bridges or air traffic towers).
  • On vehicles – even if the vehicle isn’t currently moving
  • Stored off site.

Take, for instance, a company using trucks to ship wind turbines to a new wind farm. If a turbine falls off on the highway and gets damaged, the damage could likely be covered by an inland marine insurance policy.

What other kinds of property might be covered? For your business, covered materials and products might include…

  • Computer parts.
  • Raw or refined metals.
  • Medical supplies or vaccines.
  • Construction materials.
  • Restaurant supplies.

Depending on your business activities, you may also want to look at specialty inland marine coverage. Many inland marine insurance policies have add-ons like…

  • Bailee’s customer coverage: Covers clients’ property under your watch.
  • Builder’s risk: Mitigates risk for buildings under construction and materials used in the process, like the supplies in your portable storage container.
  • Exhibition and fine art coverage: For museum or gallery collections.  

What Inland Marine Insurance Doesn’t Cover

Inland marine coverage can mitigate risk for many types of transported property, but there are some standard exclusions. A few to keep in mind:

  • Property stationed at your primary business location (which would likely be covered by commercial property insurance).
  • Property transported by plane, helicopter, or boat (which would need air cargo or ocean marine insurance).
  • Vehicles transporting your property (which would require commercial auto insurance).

Besides the types of property inland marine insurance doesn’t cover, it’s important to know that  there are also certain perils that this policy excludes. Many include “act of God”-type events and other dangers that aren’t typical of the ground transport process. Typically, inland marine policies exclude the following:

  • Earthquake damage
  • Flood damage
  • Wildfire damage
  • Property damage that occurred before transit

If you’re a business owner moving inventory through disaster-prone regions, you should consult your insurance agent to find the best available protection.

How Do I Know If I Need Inland Marine Coverage?

Inland marine insurance could be right for your business, but what’s the best way to find out?

Start by talking with an agent who understands inland marine insurance. They’ll be able to assess your business’s situation to help you determine whether inland marine insurance adequately mitigates your risks.

To provide the best guidance, your agent will likely ask a number of questions about your business activities and associated risks. Ahead of your consultation, ask yourself:

  • How often do I transport my own or others’ property over land? If you move goods infrequently, your property may be lower risk in aggregate – and may require less coverage.
  • How much cargo do I regularly transport? Larger quantities may require more coverage.
  • What risks do my or my clients’ inventory face in transit? You’ll want to make sure your risks match up with the listed perils for each available policy.
  • How valuable is the property in transit? If it’s high, you may need to consider policies with higher coverage limits or specialty add-ons.

Your answers to these questions can help you and your agent paint a better picture of the risks and needs associated with your property transport.

Talk to an Agent to Determine whether You Need Inland Marine Insurance

Researching inland marine insurance on your own is a good starting place, but it’s not enough. With professional guidance, you can gauge your coverage needs and determine whether inland marine insurance is necessary to help you mitigate the risks you face.

That’s where WE can help. Our agents offer you the insights you need to make the best decision for your business. And with over 100 carrier partners, you’ve got plenty of options to choose from.

Interested in learning more? Chat with one of our agents today.

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The information contained in this page is provided for general informational purposes only and may not be applicable to all situations. We Insure makes no guarantees of results from the use of this information.