Marine insurance is a contract. The contract is made to indemnify the assured for the marine losses and other losses incidental to marine adventure. The parties to the contract agree about the manner and the extent of indemnification in the event of loss. The subject matter of the agreement or the contract of marine insurance includes: cargoes, vessels of any description, freights and other interest in relation to such vessels, cargoes. Property of whatever description can be assured for any transit by land or water or by both; may exclude or include warehouse risks or similar risks in addition or as incidental to transit.
The purpose of marine insurance has been to enable the ship owner and the buyer and seller of goods to operate their respective business while relieving themselves, at least partly, of the burdensome financial consequences of their property’s being lost or damaged as a result of the various risks of the high seas. Thus, in other words, marine insurance adds the necessary element of financial security so that the risk of an accident occurring during the transport is not an inhibiting factor in the conduct of international trade. The importance of marine insurance, both to assureds, in terms of the security it provides and its cost element in the overall economics of running a ship or transporting goods, and to countries, particularly developing countries, in its impact on their balance of payments position, cannot be overemphasized.
It is well known that in India, until the coming into operation of the Indian Act of 1963, the courts used to follow the principles of English law and decisions based on such principles as well as the provisions of the English Act, viz. the Marine Insurance Act, 1906. The Indian law is a direct take- off from its English counterpart, and so, whenever it is not self-evident, case law spanning over two centuries is to be looked into to arrive at the true position. Moreover, the Marine Insurance Act itself being a codification of previous case law, an appreciation of past authorities is not only an essential requirement to the understanding of the legal concepts generally, but also of paramount importance when wishing to gain an insight into the very constitution of the sections within the Act.
Thus, Marine Insurance which has a risk of 100%, is one of the most important area which needs to occupy a prominent role in the Marine Sector, when there is increase in maritime activities ahead, among the nations- especially in the era of Globalisation.