All imports must have local Marine insurance

A large cargo container ship out to sea.

By Charles Ansong DANKYI & Justice Peprah AGYEI

Have you considered the potential risks and hazards that could damage your imported goods? Importing goods often involves significant capital investment, and many merchants rely on bank loans to purchase and transport these goods to the country.

For instance, let’s discuss the scenario of the cargo ship that allided with the Francis Scott Key Bridge. The Francis Scott Key Bridge, a steel arch-shaped continuous truss bridge, stood as the second-longest in the United States and the third-longest globally. Spanning 1.6 miles (2.6 km; 1.4 nautical miles), this bridge opened in 1977, extending northeast from Hawkins Point, Baltimore, to Sollers Point in Dundalk, Baltimore County, Maryland. Such incidents highlight the importance of considering potential risks and ensuring appropriate insurance coverage for imported goods[1].

Numerous hazards pose threats to vessels and containers transporting our goods during loading, transit, and offloading. These perils encompass: Fire or Explosion, Stranding, Grounding, Sinking or Capsizing, Overturning or Derailment, Collision or contact of vessel craft or conveyance with any external object other than water, discharge of cargo at a port of distress,  Jettison, Earthquake, volcanic eruption or lightning, Water damage by entry of sea/river water, Washing over board,  Total loss of package dropped during loading and unloading, Wilful misconduct of the Assured, Ordinary leakage, ordinary loss in weight or volume or ordinary wear and tear, Inadequate sufficiency or unsuitability of packing or preparation of packing of the subject matter, insured, Inherent vice or nature of the subject matter insured, Delay, Insolvency or financial default of Carriers [2].

In reality, many merchants have experienced losses on their goods, but they often lack clarity regarding the insurance coverage for their shipments. Even when they are aware of the insurance provider, they may not understand the procedures and documentation required to file a claim. Furthermore, for those who do attempt to make a claim, navigating delays in payment adds to the challenge. Moreover, determining where to report grievances and seek resolution becomes another obstacle in the process.

Marine Insurance stands as one of the oldest and most extensively developed forms of insurance, boasting a global reach. Governed by the Marine Insurance Act 1906, an esteemed UK parliamentary act, this legislation serves as the cornerstone of marine insurance law, widely embraced by many jurisdictions worldwide [3].

This insurance provides Importers/Exporters with crucial protection against potential loss or damage arising from insured perils, whether by sea, air, or land, including inland transit. Mandated by Section 222 of the Insurance Act 2021 (Act 1061), all imports into the country must be insured locally, excluding personal effects [4].

Opting for local cargo insurance yields manifold benefits. It offers a sense of security, ensuring safeguarding of investments and business continuity. Moreover, it ensures value for money, with ample coverage, access to professional guidance, streamlined claims processing, and regulatory support. Additionally, it fosters more accurate import duty estimations, instills investor confidence, and facilitates easier access to funding for investment and expansion endeavors. It gives the importer peace of mind and address the issues of language barriers in the event of claim. Premiums for marine cargo insurance are payable in local currency, leading to foreign exchange savings and alleviating pressure on the national currency. Moreover, accessing insurers locally is convenient, bolstered by a robust regulatory framework and competitive pricing.

It’s imperative that the Bank of Ghana mandates local cargo insurance cover for all importer credit facilities, with the banks’ interests duly noted on the certificates. This move will catalyze the growth of Ghana’s insurance industry, generating substantial premium income and consequently fostering employment opportunities.

In terms of financial and technical capacity, the local insurance market is well-equipped. It boasts significant reinsurance support in the international market and possesses the requisite expertise for risk assessment, advise of the appropriate type of cover for the goods being imported into the country, underwriting, claims processing, and loss adjustment. Furthermore, there is a wealth of professionals eager to contribute their expertise, ensuring comprehensive coverage for the risks associated with imports and exports.

The following entities work with the importers to ensure their goods arrive safely to them; Carriers/Transporters, Clearing and Forwarding Agents, Stevedores, Freight forwarders and Commission Agents. Most Marine policies are written on “agreed value” policy? It is difficult to determine at which stage of the transit the loss may occur and what will be the value of cargo at the time of the loss. In order to eliminate such dispute, Sec 29(2) of Marine Insurance Act provides that a valued policy is a policy which specifies the agreed value of the subject matter insured and subsection (3) of the section enacts that in the absence of fraud, the value fixed by the policy is, as between the insurer and assured, conclusive of the insurable value of the subject intended to be insured, irrespective of loss being total or partial [5].

The purpose of cargo insurance is to indemnify the cargo owner in the event of losses proximately caused by a peril insured against. Processing of any claim involves examination/verification of the following: An insured peril, An uninsured peril and an excluded peril.

Claim documents for processing the cargo claim

Evidence of Insurable Interest – The original copy of the policy or the certificate of insurance and all original shipping documents relating to a particular claim. It is to be noted that the insurable interest can not be changed or transferred after the occurrence of the loss.

Evidence of shipment/ dispatch – The original/printed copy of bill of lading and/or AWB and/or Consignment note issued by the carriers.

Evidence of loss or damage – The original survey report for Total and Partial loss. Certificate of non-delivery, damage/shortage certificate issued by carriers, joint survey report with the carriers, copy of note of protest issued by the master of the vessel etc.

Evidence of Charges involved – Bills, cash memos, certificates, money receipts towards expenses incurred reasonably and prudently for the purpose of minimising the losses in respect of damage to cargo.

Evidence of Insured Value – Original invoice along with the packing list and /or any other document evidencing the actual insured value of the commodity.

Evidence of Preservation of rights of recovery against carriers, bailees and other third Parties – A copy of the delivery slip duly qualified by the insured/ consignees for acceptance of the goods in doubtful condition. Damage/ shortage/ non delivery certificate issued by the carriers, copy of notice of claim lodged on the carriers along with their acknowledgement within the stipulated time period.

The National Insurance Commission (NIC) has created a digital platform called the Marine and Aviation Insurance Database (MAID) where the three parties to the Protocol (NIC, GRA and the Ghana Shippers Authority) would check and validate Certificates of Marine Cargo Insurance issued to importers.


Charles is a Associate of Chartered Insurance Institute of Ghana and United Kingdom

  +233208498571 |  [email protected]


  1. “Named for ‘Star-Spangled Banner’ author, Francis Scott Key Bridge was part of Baltimore’s identity”. Associated Press. March 26, 2024. Archived from the original on March 28, 2024. Retrieved March 28, 2024.
  3. Palmer, Sarah (October 2007). “Lloyd, Edward (c.1648–1713)”Oxford Dictionary of National Biography(online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:1093/ref:odnb/16829. Archived from the originalon 15 July 2011. Retrieved 16 February 2011. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  4. The Insurance Ghana Act 2021, Act 1061
  5. “The Civil Law, Volume I, The Opinions of Julius Paulus, Book II”org. Translated by Scott, S.P. Central Trust Company. 1932. Retrieved June 16, 2021. TITLE VII. ON THE LEX RHODIA. It is provided by the Lex Rhodiathat if merchandise is thrown overboard for the purpose of lightening a ship, the loss is made good by the assessment of all which is made for the benefit of all.

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