|1.4.2 Containers and cargo insurance|
|In principle, cargo insurance only covers claims relating to material damage to goods.
Exceptionally, the proprietor's interest in the container as packaging may also be insured if a special agreement is reached or through inclusion thereof in the damage liability invoice value. Interest in a leased container is not in principle insured.
The purpose of packaging is to allow transport of goods and to protect them from possible damage. If the above aim has been fulfilled, it is most common for only the packaging to be damaged, and not the goods.
ADS 1919 or ADS 1973/1994 (ADS = Allgemeine Deutsche Seeversicherungsbedingungen [General German Marine Insurance Conditions]) and the DTV - Güterversicherungsbedingungen [Association of German Transportation Insurers - Cargo insurance conditions] do not include any particular provisions in this respect. The following may be inferred from the general principles of transport insurance law*:
If the packaging does not have any separate, intrinsic value, no independent loss may occur. Packing paper, which is discarded after the arrival of the cargo and suffers wear during transport, cannot therefore form the basis of a claim for damages. If the goods have reached their destination, the only relevant question is whether the goods have suffered loss and not whether the packaging is damaged. This also applies to cases.
Consideration can only be given to any such claim if the goods have depreciated in value solely as a result of the damage to the packaging. This is the case for example with preserved foods and certain branded goods. Another example is cement, which retains its normal commercial value only in its original bags. If cement which is in itself sound is sold in unmarked bags because the original bags have been damaged, it automatically suffers depreciation. In such cases, compensation may be paid despite the damage being limited to the bags.
Otherwise, compensation may only be paid for packaging damage if a separate value is assigned to the packaging either in the policy or in the invoice (e.g. barrels or containers). This only applies if the packaging is expected to have a longer service life than the duration of one transport operation.
A different matter entirely is the cost of repairing or replacing packaging, if this has to be performed en route. It may be possible to claim compensation for these costs, though not in the form of packaging losses but as loss minimization costs, which are expended to return the goods to a transportable state and to prevent losses on the remaining insured journey. For such a claim to be allowable, the packaging must have been satisfactory at the start of the journey. If the journey is complete or the remainder of the journey is uninsured, the insurer will not meet such costs, because, the insurance contract having expired, no more insured losses can be incurred.
Because of the uncertainties involved in using cargo insurance to insure a container as packaging, it is better to provide separate hull insurance by way of special conditions for container insurance. As far as the proprietor's interest is concerned, double insurance cover may then be provided by the cargo insurance and the container & hull insurance.
*Hans-Joachim Enge: Transportversicherung [Transport Insurance], 3rd edition 1996, pages 203/204
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