Forensic Assistance for Marine Claims

Forensic Services Newsletter

Some steel shipments are so severely corroded that it is apparent that most damage occurred before the policy was even issued. The photo show steel from an east European country.
Steel damaged by contact with water during transit. Cold rolled steel is particularly susceptible to damage in this way.

A good many accidents occur to machinery and goods during shipment from country to country. Additionally, marine policies can continue to apply up to 60 days after arrival. In fact, a significant proportion of the accidents we are asked to look at occur in the country of destination after unloading from the ship, perhaps while goods are on the road, or sitting in a warehouse or compound or even in a jungle-like setting. When some accidents are described to us by marine adjusters, it is often apparent that our motor vehicle accident engineers have the most appropriate skills for the investigation.

In many respects, the technical investigative skills that are developed in non-marine work are directly applicable to marine cargo claims. In short, this area of insurance claims is very amenable to forensic input.

A small amount of water in a crate can cause much damage to all exposed surfaces of equipment inside the crate Plates of steel from a vessel that caught on fire, with the fire being fought with seawater and the plates coming into contact with seawater for six weeks. We were asked if there was actual damage. A crate used to hold an electronic control cabinet. After reaching its destination, the crate was left outdoors for one month.

Irrespective of where along the transport route the accident occurs, the questions we are asked usually fall into one or more of these categories.

  • When?
  • How?
  • Why?
  • Packaging?
  • Severity?
  • Restoration?
  • Storage yard next to jungle at a construction site. Crates were left outdoors for months. Typical of damage to contents of a crate stored outdoors. This bearing was about 6 feet in diameter, intended for a cement mill. Rolls of hot rolled steel stored on swampy ground for weeks after arrival in the country.

    These are the common everyday questions we are asked in respect of particular claims. In terms of describing the type of work that we do, it is useful to describe the jobs in insurance terms such as follows :

    Exploded, burnt container in the hold of a ship. Batteries that have self heated during transit.

    - Before/during/after voyage
    - Contamination
    - Poor Packaging
    -Storage Conditions
    *Dangerous Cargo
    *Inherent Vice
    *Falls & Spills
    *Staged Accidents
    *Manufacturing Fault
    *Extent of damage/possibility of restoration

    Some damage to coils of steel, said to have occurred during transit, actually occurred during manufacture. Defect in a plastic bag, resulting in spillage incorrectly attributed to handling. When a container catches on fire, there is much damage to surrounding containers, with resulting arguments about the extent of damage.

    If you have a query you may contact us in any of the following ways.

    Telephone Fax
    +60 3 2145 2022 +60 3 2145 1022

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