Freight Insurance – What is it & How to Get It

Freight Insurance. Have you ever wondered how companies keep their stuff safe when sending it across the world? Picture all the things moving through the global supply chain, like phones, food, and cars. Making sure these things arrive safe and sound is super important. That’s where freight insurance comes in. In this article, we’ll dive into freight insurance, what it is, why businesses need it, and how it’s different from carrier liability. But first, let’s check out some cool facts:

Freight Insurance - What is it & How to Get It

Freight Insurance Cool Facts

Did you know that by 2025, the global freight insurance market could hit $12.5 billion? That’s a huge amount of money. On average, businesses spend about 0.5% to 1.5% of their shipment’s value on insurance. It’s like paying a small fee for peace of mind. But freight insurance isn’t just about money. According to the National Cargo Security Council, cargo theft costs companies around $30 billion every year. And get this, 1 in 10 shipments get damaged or lost during travel, says the International Chamber of Commerce.

These numbers show how tough shipping can be for businesses. The FBI says cargo theft is getting worse, with about 1,000 thefts happening each month in the U.S. What is the average cost of fixing damage or replacing lost stuff? Around $10,000. Accidents, theft, and natural disasters are the top reasons why stuff gets damaged. That’s why having good insurance is super important.

So, in this article, we’ll dig into freight insurance. We’ll talk about what it is, why it matters for businesses, how it’s different from carrier liability, types of coverage, and factors affecting premiums. Also, we’ll look at how to get it, eligibility and requirements, and choosing the right insurance. We’ll also cover some fascinating facts, money facts, trends, and statistics related to freight insurance.

What is Freight Insurance?

Freight insurance, also known as cargo insurance, is a type of insurance that provides coverage for loss or damage to goods and merchandise while they are in transit. The purpose of freight insurance is to protect businesses from financial losses that may occur due to unforeseen events such as theft, accidents, natural disasters, or other perils during the transportation of goods.

Businesses engaged in shipping and logistics frequently depend on freight insurance to safeguard their shipments and ensure they receive compensation for any losses or damages occurring during transit. This insurance helps businesses manage the risks associated with transporting goods over long distances and through various modes of transportation, including by sea, air, road, or rail.

Brief History of Freight Insurance

Freight insurance has a long history that dates back to ancient times when merchants sought ways to protect their goods during transportation. However, the modern concept of freight insurance began to take shape in the 17th century. Here’s a quick look at how freight insurance has evolved:

  • Early Beginnings (1000 BC – 14th Century AD):
    • Ancient civilizations like Babylon and Greece had ways to share the risk of lost cargo, like “general average” and “maritime loans.”
  • Rise of Marine Insurance (14th Century AD):
    • As trade grew, so did the need for formal protection.
    • In the 1300s, merchants in Genoa, Italy, started using written contracts to insure their goods during sea voyages.
  • Lloyd’s of London (17th – 18th Century AD):
    • In London, coffee houses became meeting spots for merchants and risk assessors (called underwriters) to talk about cargo insurance.
    • Lloyd’s Coffee House, which opened in 1688, later became Lloyd’s of London, a famous insurance marketplace.
  • Standardization and Growth (18th – 20th Century AD):
    • Rules for marine insurance and standard policies were set in the 1700s and 1800s.
    • As transportation improved with trains and planes, insurance expanded to cover goods on land and in the air.
  • Modern Times (20th Century – Today):
    • The 1900s saw more international trade, leading to a bigger and more complex freight insurance industry.
    • Today, freight insurance keeps changing to deal with new risks like cyber threats and pandemics.

This quick history shows how freight insurance has developed with transportation. It proves that even as trade grows, there’s always a need to transport goods safely and securely around the world.

How Does it Differ from Carrier Liability?

Freight insurance and carrier liability differ in several key ways. Shippers purchase freight insurance to protect their goods during transit, covering risks such as damage, loss, and theft. The shipper purchases freight insurance, which offers comprehensive coverage for the full value of the cargo and allows customization based on the type of cargo and mode of transportation. The insurance company compensates the shipper for the actual value of the goods if the cargo is damaged or lost.

On the other hand, carrier liability is the legal responsibility of the carrier (like a shipping line or trucking company) for the cargo they transport. The carrier automatically assumes liability for the cargo they handle, and carrier liability coverage often limits compensation per kilogram or package. Carriers have a legal obligation to compensate the shipper for any damage or loss, up to the specified limits, but carrier liability may not cover events like natural disasters or insufficient packaging. The main differences lie in the scope of coverage, customization options, financial protection, and legal basis of each.

Importance of Freight Insurance for Businesses

Freight insurance acts as a vital shield, protecting companies from financial losses due to unexpected events that damage or destroy goods during transportation. Here’s why it’s essential for businesses:

  1. Risk Management: Freight insurance helps businesses manage the risks associated with shipping goods, including damage, theft, or loss during transit. This protection is especially important for high-value or delicate items.
  2. Financial Protection: Insurance provides financial security by covering the cost of lost or damaged goods, ensuring that businesses are not left with significant financial losses.
  3. Customer Confidence: Offering freight insurance can increase customer confidence in a business. Customers are more likely to choose a shipping service that provides insurance, knowing their goods are protected.
  4. Compliance: In many cases, freight insurance is required by law or by contracts with suppliers or customers. Maintaining insurance coverage ensures compliance with these obligations.
  5. Competitive Advantage: Providing insurance can give businesses a competitive edge in the market. It shows a commitment to customer satisfaction and provides added value compared to competitors that do not offer insurance.
  6. Peace of Mind: Insurance provides peace of mind to businesses, knowing that their goods are protected against unforeseen events during transit.

Overall, freight insurance is essential for businesses to protect their financial interests, comply with legal requirements, and maintain customer satisfaction and trust.

Types of Freight Insurance

There are several types of freight insurance that businesses can consider depending on their specific needs and the nature of their shipments. Some common types of freight insurance include:

  1. Marine Cargo Insurance: Covers goods transported by sea against risks such as sinking, fire, theft, and damage caused by rough handling.
  2. Air Cargo Insurance: Provides coverage for goods transported by air against risks such as damage, loss, or theft during air transit.
  3. General Liability: This type of freight insurance offers broad coverage for various risks associated with freight transportation.
  4. Land Cargo Insurance: Includes coverage for goods transported by road, rail, or inland waterways against risks such as accidents, theft, and damage.
  5. Freight Forwarder’s Liability Insurance: Covers the liability of freight forwarders for loss or damage to goods while in their care, custody, or control.
  6. Warehouse-to-Warehouse Insurance: Provides coverage for goods from the time they leave the seller’s warehouse until they reach the buyer’s warehouse.
  7. Project Cargo Insurance: Designed for large, complex shipments that require specialized handling and coverage for risks specific to the project.
  8. Excess Liability Insurance: Provides additional coverage beyond the limits of primary insurance policies, offering increased protection for high-value shipments.
  9. Reefer Cargo Insurance: Specifically designed for refrigerated cargo, providing coverage for damage caused by temperature fluctuations or equipment failure.
  10. Single Shipment Insurance: Offers coverage for individual shipments on an ad-hoc basis, providing flexibility for businesses with occasional shipping needs.
  11. All Risk Insurance: Comprehensive coverage that protects against a wide range of risks, including theft, damage, and loss, unless specifically excluded in the policy.

These are just a few examples of the types of freight insurance available. Businesses should carefully consider their shipping needs and consult with insurance providers to select the most appropriate coverage for their specific requirements.

Types of Freight Insurance Coverage

Freight insurance coverage can vary depending on the type of insurance policy and the specific terms and conditions outlined in the policy. However, some common types of coverage include:

  1. Loss or Damage: Coverage for loss or damage to goods during transit, including theft, accidents, natural disasters, and other perils.
  2. Theft: Protection against theft of goods while in transit or storage before or after transportation.
  3. Accidental Damage: Coverage for damage caused by accidents, such as collisions, overturns, or other unforeseen events.
  4. Fire and Explosion: Protection against damage caused by fire or explosion during transit.
  5. Natural Disasters: Coverage for damage caused by natural disasters such as earthquakes, floods, hurricanes, or tsunamis.
  6. Riot and Civil Commotion: Coverage for damage caused by riots, civil unrest, or political disturbances.
  7. General Average: Coverage for costs incurred due to a general average event, where all parties involved in a sea voyage share the losses.
  8. Salvage and Recovery: Coverage for costs associated with salvaging and recovering goods after a loss or damage event.
  9. Sue and Labor: Coverage for costs incurred to prevent or minimize a loss, such as expenses for emergency repairs or temporary storage.
  10. Rejection Insurance: Coverage for costs incurred if goods are rejected by the buyer due to damage or non-conformity with the order.

These are just a few examples of the types of coverage that may be included in a freight insurance policy. Businesses should carefully review the terms and conditions of their insurance policy to understand the specific coverage provided.

Factors Affecting Freight Insurance Premiums

Several factors can affect the premiums of freight insurance. Understanding these factors can help businesses manage their insurance costs more effectively. Some key factors include:

  1. Nature of Goods: The type of goods being shipped can significantly impact insurance premiums. High-value goods or goods that are prone to damage or theft may result in higher premiums.
  2. Value of Goods: The total value of the goods being shipped is a major factor in determining insurance premiums. Higher-value shipments typically require higher premiums to adequately cover the potential loss.
  3. Mode of Transport: The mode of transport used for shipping can affect insurance premiums. Some modes of transport, such as air freight, may have higher premiums due to the perceived lower risk of damage or theft.
  4. Distance and Destination: The distance the goods will be transported and the destination can impact insurance premiums. Longer distances or destinations with higher risks of theft or damage may result in higher premiums.
  5. Security Measures: The security measures in place during transit can affect insurance premiums. Businesses that implement strong security measures, such as GPS tracking, secure packaging, and secure storage facilities, may be able to negotiate lower premiums.
  6. Claims History: The claims history of a business can impact insurance premiums. Businesses with a history of frequent or large claims may face higher premiums due to their perceived higher risk.
  7. Insurance Deductible: The deductible amount chosen by the business can impact premiums. A higher deductible typically results in lower premiums, but businesses should consider their ability to cover the deductible in the event of a claim.
  8. Coverage Limits: The coverage limits selected by the business can affect premiums. Higher coverage limits will result in higher premiums, but businesses should ensure they have adequate coverage for their needs.
  9. Market Conditions: Market conditions, including supply and demand for insurance, can impact premiums. Businesses should monitor market conditions and be prepared to adjust their insurance coverage accordingly.

By understanding these factors and working with an experienced insurance provider, businesses can effectively manage their freight insurance premiums and ensure they have adequate coverage for their shipping needs.

How to Get Freight Insurance

Getting freight insurance involves several steps to ensure that you have the right coverage for your shipping needs. Here’s a general guide on how to get freight insurance:

  1. Assess Your Needs: Determine the value of the goods you are shipping and the level of coverage you require. Consider the risks associated with the mode of transportation and the destination.
  2. Research Insurance Providers: Research insurance providers that offer freight insurance. Look for providers with experience in insuring shipments similar to yours and check their reputation and customer reviews.
  3. Get Quotes: Contact insurance providers to get quotes for freight insurance. Provide them with details about your shipment, including the type of goods, the mode of transportation, the destination, and the value of the goods.
  4. Compare Coverage and Costs: Compare the coverage options and costs offered by different insurance providers. Consider factors such as the coverage limits, deductibles, and additional coverage options.
  5. Purchase Insurance: Once you have selected an insurance provider, purchase the freight insurance policy that best suits your needs. Ensure that you understand the terms and conditions of the policy, including any exclusions or limitations.
  6. Provide Documentation: Provide the insurance provider with the necessary documentation, such as the bill of lading, commercial invoice, and packing list, to process your insurance policy.
  7. Monitor Your Shipment: Keep track of your shipment during transit and report any loss or damage to the insurance provider as soon as possible. Provide them with the necessary documentation to file a claim.
  8. File a Claim if Necessary: If your shipment is lost or damaged, file a claim with the insurance provider. Provide them with all the necessary documentation, such as photos, invoices, and reports, to support your claim.

By following these steps, you can obtain freight insurance to protect your shipments and ensure that you have coverage in case of any unforeseen events during transit.

Eligibility and Requirements for Freight Insurance

The eligibility and requirements for freight insurance can vary depending on the insurance provider and the specific policy. However, there are some common eligibility criteria and requirements that businesses may need to meet to qualify for freight insurance:


Freight insurance is primarily available to businesses involved in shipping and logistics. However, some insurers might extend coverage to individuals shipping high-value personal goods. Here are some common eligibility factors:

  • Business Entity: Most insurers require you to be a registered business entity (sole proprietorship, LLC, corporation, etc.) involved in the regular transportation of goods.
  • Shipping Activity: You should have a demonstrable history of shipping goods or a clear plan for future shipments.
  • Legal Compliance: Your business should operate legally and comply with relevant shipping regulations.


To secure freight insurance, you’ll typically need to provide the following information:

  • Business Information: Basic business details like name, address, and contact information.
  • Shipping Activity: Details about your typical shipping volume, frequency, and routes used.
  • Type of Goods: Information about the types of goods you typically ship, including their declared value.
  • Loss History: Your claims history with previous freight insurance providers (if any).
  • Risk Management Practices: Details about any security measures you take during packaging, storage, and transportation.

By meeting these eligibility criteria and requirements, businesses can qualify for freight insurance to protect their shipments during transit.

How to Choose the Right Freight Insurance

Choosing the right freight insurance is crucial to ensuring that your shipments are adequately protected against loss or damage during transit. Here are some steps to help you choose the right freight insurance for your needs:

  1. Assess Your Insurance Needs: Determine the type and amount of coverage you need based on the value and nature of your goods, the mode of transportation, the shipping route, and any specific risks associated with your shipments.
  2. Research Insurance Providers: Research insurance providers that offer freight insurance. Look for providers with experience in the shipping and logistics industry and a good reputation for customer service and claims handling.
  3. Compare Coverage Options: Compare the coverage options offered by different insurance providers. Consider factors such as coverage limits, exclusions, deductibles, and premium rates.
  4. Consider Additional Coverage: Depending on your shipping needs, you may need additional coverage for specific risks, such as theft, damage, or loss of goods during transit. Consider whether these additional coverages are necessary for your shipments.
  5. Review Policy Terms and Conditions: Carefully review the terms and conditions of the insurance policy, including any exclusions or limitations. Make sure you understand what is covered and what is not covered by the policy.
  6. Check Claims Process: Look into the claims process of the insurance provider. Ensure that it is straightforward and that the provider has a reputation for processing claims efficiently.
  7. Consider Cost: While cost should not be the only factor in your decision, it is important to consider the cost of the insurance policy. Compare quotes from multiple providers to ensure you are getting a competitive rate.
  8. Seek Recommendations: If possible, seek recommendations from other businesses in your industry or network that have experience with freight insurance. Their insights can help you make an informed decision.
  9. Review Customer Feedback: Look for customer reviews and feedback about the insurance provider. Pay attention to any customer complaints or issues, as this can indicate the level of service you can expect.
  10. Consult with an Insurance Broker: If you are unsure about which freight insurance policy is right for you, consider consulting with an insurance broker who specializes in shipping and logistics insurance. They can help you navigate the options and find the best policy for your needs.

By following these steps, you can choose the right freight insurance for your business and ensure that your shipments are protected against loss or damage during transit.


In conclusion, freight insurance is like a safety net for businesses shipping goods around the world. It helps protect against the risks of damage, loss, and theft during transit. By understanding what freight insurance is, why it’s important, and how it works, businesses can make informed decisions to protect their shipments and manage the risks of shipping. With the global freight insurance market growing and the costs of cargo theft and damage increasing, having the right insurance coverage is more important than ever. So, whether you’re shipping phones, food, or cars, freight insurance can help ensure that your goods arrive safely and securely.