Not only are all the companies whose goods were in the 18,000 containers of the EVER GIVEN affected, but also those whose goods were transported by the 400 cargo ships that reached their destination only after a considerable delay due to the traffic jam.

The container ship MS EVER GIVEN ran aground in the Suez Canal a year ago. The delays in delivery caused by the accident are still noticeable today – and are also shaking up the insurance market.

This picture went around the world on 23 March 2021: The stranded giant freighter MS EVER GIVEN – with a length of almost 400 metres and a width of 60 metres, one of the largest container ships in the world – lies transversely in the Suez Canal, blocking one of the most important trade routes. Fully packed cargo ships are jammed in front of the canal entrance and forced to wait seven days to continue their journey.

The shipping accident in the Suez Canal has far-reaching consequences for supply chains. Not only are all the companies whose goods were in the 18,000 containers of the EVER GIVEN affected, but also those whose goods were transported by the 400 cargo ships that reached their destination only after a considerable delay due to the traffic jam. Ultimately, this also pushes transport insurance to its limits.

High-risk transport

On the busy sea route between Asia and Europe, cargo ships are usually loaded to their maximum capacity, which poses a safety risk for the crew and the cargo, especially in bad weather. For example, crosswinds can cause very large container ships like the EVER GIVEN to run aground on a sandbank in a narrow waterway. The ever-increasing size of cargo ships also increases the risk and makes salvage operations more difficult in the event of an accident.

Supply chain mess

Even before the blockade of the Suez Canal, industries were struggling with supply bottlenecks. Incidents like that of the EVER GIVEN are the last straw. There are dramatic interruptions in the supply chain or even a production standstill but any case delays. In Europe, the automotive, chemical and pharmaceutical industries were particularly affected by the Suez Canal disaster, as were large discount retailers that source their goods from Asia.

Transport insurance and its limits

In the area of classic goods transport insurance, damage, as well as additional costs incurred for goods that are directly on the affected means of transport, can be insured to a large extent. This also includes the so-called general average, which exists when the captain arranges for extraordinary expenses to be incurred to rescue the vessel from an immediate and common peril, such as the sea throwing of goods, the flooding of holds in the event of a fire, or tugging and dredging operations, as in the case of EVER GIVEN.

Especially in the case of general average, the insurance cover enables the goods on the damaged vessel to be released. Those who are not insured have to pay themselves – a not inconsiderable cost risk. In the case of the EVER GIVEN, claims payments in the high three-digit millions were made by the insurers and reinsurers.

The situation is different for goods on ships that are only indirectly affected by the time delay. The mere delay of the voyage does not trigger a claim under conventional transport insurance policies, and this is precisely what is now bringing a new insurance company onto the scene.

New insurance for trade disruption and its limits

To provide a solution for indirect risks such as travel delays, a so-called “Trade Disruption Insurance” (TDI) has been developed on the London market. Unlike traditional business interruption insurance, this parametric solution covers those costs, expenses and lost profits that result from events that do not cause physical damage.

To stay with the specific case of the shipping accident, the blockage of waterways can be chosen as the coverage trigger. If the insured event occurs, payment of the agreed limit (less the deductible taken) is made. In this way, losses caused by delays or non-arrival of goods can also be covered.

The new TDI insurance is designed for major loss scenarios and can be customised. It can also be extended, for example, to cover loss of earnings, contractual penalties, liquidated damages or other costs and expenses such as additional financing costs. It thus offers a comprehensive solution for a complex risk that is becoming ever higher due to global development.


This article is a part of our latest Spotlight publication focusing on supply chain issues. Read the publication and learn more about how you can protect your business from changes and unpredictable supply chain disruptions.

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Herbert Mayerhofer

Competence Center Manager Transport

T +43 5 04 04 – 276