What is Inland Marine Insurance?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Inland marine insurance is an insurance instrument designed to protect property while in transit, along with high-value mobile items like silverware and tools. Despite the rather peculiar name, this is actually a very useful type of insurance, and it is commonly recommended to business owners, especially people who need to travel for work or people who work with high-value items. Many insurance companies offer this type of policy, and can discuss options with their clients. It is typically purchased as a supplement to an existing insurance policy.

Woman posing
Woman posing

The origins of this type of insurance allegedly started with Lloyd's of London, a venerable provider of insurance that dates back to the 17th century. Lloyd's initially insured the cargo of ships, holding policyholders responsible for whatever happened to their goods on land. Eventually, coverage expanded to include cargo after it had been offloaded, with inland marine insurance covering cargo in transit, storage, or holding, providing more complete coverage to policyholders. Today, this insurance is often used by people who are nowhere near the ocean and have no intention of carrying anything by ship.

Commercial insurance usually covers a specific premises. This type applies to the goods and property associated with someone's job, wherever that person might be. When a contractor's tools are stolen out of a truck or off a work site, they would be covered. Likewise, goods damaged in transit across dry land could be covered by this type of insurance. People can also cover individual buildings and other types of property.

Insurance agents may recommend inland marine insurance to fill gaps in coverage, ensuring that a client is totally covered in the event of a problem. For example, many things covered by this type of insurance are specifically excluded in conventional insurance policies, like jewelry, for example. Having this additional insurance as a “floater” policy can protect people from such losses. It is also not restricted to commercial customers.

When shopping for any kind of insurance policy, people should take note of the deductible and any restrictions on the policy. They can choose between named peril policies, in which everything covered by the policy is specifically cited by name, or all-risks insurance, in which anything excluded from the policy is specifically stated. For example, an all-risks policy might indicate that it would not cover losses caused by negligence, suggesting that it will cover everything else, from hurricanes to fires.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a wiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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Discussion Comments


My husband and I are looking to start a construction company, and this sounds like a great way to protect our equipment.

With this kind of company, we will constantly have our equipment traveling around to different work sites, and I've heard of people having their tools stolen out of the back of a work truck.

We definitely need to purchase an inland marine insurance policy!


I can't believe that inland marine insurance coverage dates all the way back to the 17th century! I thought insurance was a more modern practice. It definitely explains the name though. I think it's very interesting that it originated from the days when goods had to be transported by ship in order to come from other countries.

In my opinion, it's pretty neat that the name has stuck around, even though our methods of transport have changed greatly.

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