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Changing the port of discharge

It is common for companies to transport goods from one place to another. The process usually involves different parties, such as forwarders, airline companies or shipping agents, etc. and every party expects the transportation to be as smooth as possible. However, incidents sometimes occur which are not anticipated. If a stevedore strike happens, carriers will assess the risk and may decide to change the discharging port, say from Hong Kong to Yantian port. Is the cargo policy still in force?

According to sub-clause no. 10 of the Institute Cargo Clauses 1982, if the insured changes the destination/discharging port which is different from the destination port specified in the policy, with immediate notice given to the insurance company, coverage can be extended with conditions and the payment of an additional premium. If immediate notice is not given, the existing cargo insurance may not provide coverage.

However, the Institute Cargo Clauses was revised in 2009. According to sub-clause no. 10.1 of the Institute Cargo Clauses 2009, if the destination is changed by the assured from the original port, the insured still needs to notify his insurance company promptly to agree the terms and rates to continue the coverage. But under sub-clause no. 10.2, it extends protection for the assured. The assured can still enjoy the coverage of the original cargo policy even if he does not inform his insurance company about the change of discharging port, but only in the case that he is not notified about the change. This extended protection is also the same concept set under Marine Insurance Ordinance, Section 49, “Excuses for deviation or delay” (1) (d) “where reasonably necessary for the safety of the ship or subject-matter insured;”.

In conclusion, in expressing the duty of the assured on change of port of discharge, sub-clause no. 10.2 of Institute Cargo Clauses 2009 is clearer and offers more protection than the 1982 version.

If a strike does occur, it is advised that the insured keep in close contact with the forwarder or carrier. If there is any change in the voyage or the port of discharge, it is crucial to inform the insurance company immediately to ensure that comprehensive cargo insurance cover can be obtained.

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