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Three types of insurance policies

Fiche d'information

Le Marché français est spécialisé depuis plusieurs siècles dans l'assurance des marchandises transportées et il a mis au point des polices et clauses facultés bien adaptées aux besoins des industriels et des commerçants.

assurance marchandises transportées

The French market has specialised in the insurance of cargo for centuries, and has developed cargo insurance policies and clauses that are well-adapted to the needs of manufacturers and merchants.

They can choose from among three basic types of insurance cover:


  • Voyage policies, which cover the transit of cargo for a specified trip.

  • Open cover, for specified cargo over an unspecified period of time.

  • Floating policies, for unspecified cargo over a specified period of time.



For many years, the French market has offered a standard policy for this form of cover. Because this type of policy provides insurance for specific goods for a specified voyage, it is suitable for occasional deliveries. The cargo, its value, the name of the ship, and the ports of loading and discharge are known. The risk is therefore well delineated.

This type of policy is particularly well adapted to the performance of commercial contracts that call for deliveries spread over an unspecified period of time. Instead of purchasing a policy for each individual shipment, the insured can take out an open cover policy, in which the total value of the cargo and the number of scheduled shipments are simply specified. Prior to each shipment, the insured informs the insurer of the exact nature, composition and value of the cargo.

The main purpose of this policy, which is concluded in advance for a given period of time, is to provide automatic cover for all shipments made by the same insured


  • regardless of the cargo, means of transport or point of departure or destination,

  • or sometimes within specific limitations set by the insured.

This practical and commonly-used policy is ideal for companies that import or export goods of different kinds frequently, to or from ports located in different countries.

The advantage of this policy is that it spares the insured the trouble of having to take out a new policy for each shipment. The open cover or floating policy provides automatic cover for all consignments sent by the insured, without the need for prior declaration or even knowledge of the consignments made by employees or authorized agents. Cover attaches immediately upon departure of the goods.

The insured has only to file the details of any shipments made on its behalf at a later date, within a specified deadline.

This declaration does not trigger insurance cover; it only formalizes a pre-existing obligation on the part of the insurer.

The floating policy is automatically renewable from year to year, and both parties are free to terminate, generally by giving one month's notice.

This policy offers significant practical benefits: few required formalities, automatic renewal, time and money saved. Since the open/floating policy is a binding contract grounded on the insured's good faith, the latter agrees to declare every item that falls within the scope of the cover. Failure to do so entitles the insurer to cancel the policy and seek the penalties set forth in the policy.

The insurer grants automatic cover to goods it has not inspected. Accordingly, liability is limited to an amount specified in the policy (i.e., an agreed maximum value per shipment and per vessel).

The open/floating policy, which is designed to meet the numerous and varied needs of international maritime trade, can be easily adapted to special circumstances and situations. One example is revenue based insurance, which is becoming more frequent in connection with open polices.

For operators (shipping companies, carriers and forwarding agents, etc.), open policies can be drafted in their name. At the request of their clients, these policies provide insurance cover for goods in addition to other services requested (carriage or the arrangement of carriage).

This open policy does not provide automatic insurance cover, since the named insured is only obliged to contract cover at the request of clients for specific shipments.