Has your business ever lost money due to property being lost or damaged while in transit? As it turns out, many have. Some estimates claim that between 2% and 11% of goods arrive damaged at distribution centers. The companies that own lost or damaged items may be disappointed to find out their commercial property insurance policy doesn’t cover these losses. The only way to recover damages is through an inland marine policy.
Inland marine insurance is hundreds of years old with roots that go back to historic shipping times. Groups of merchants began self-insuring by sharing the financial risk of losing ships at sea with marine insurance.As ground transportation became more popular, the concepts behind these policies were applied to inland routes and inland marine insurance was born.
Inland marine policies may have been born out of shipping needs, but today they cover much more. Modern inland marine insurance can refer to any type of policy used to insure property that isn’t fixed or is regularly transported. Many different industries benefit from inland marine insurance–often without even knowing it.
If you’re wondering how inland marine insurance could benefit your business, this list is a great place to start. We reviewed 20 different companies that offer inland marine policies and picked the frontrunner in each category, weighing coverage, cost, and service to choose the best of the best.
The 7 Best Inland Marine Insurance Companies of 2021
Best Overall: The Hartford
The Hartford offers unrivaled scope, coverage, and terms through its broad spectrum of inland marine policies and is best overall in our review.
Wide range of inland marine policies
Comprehensive policy terms
24/7 customer service
Can only be purchased through an agent
Quotes not available online
Some small businesses excluded
Modern inland marine insurance is a loose categorization of many different types of policies, and The Hartford offers just about all of them. The provider groups its inland marine coverage into five categories: construction, technology, transportation, equipment, and miscellaneous inland marine, which includes items from collectibles to vending machines. Within each category, you’ll find highly specific policies that target industries at a micro level. Just to name a few: renewable energy companies, vending machine operators, and musical instrument collections all get their own inland marine policy with The Hartford.
As a well-known business insurance provider, The Hartford offers its clients 24/7 customer phone service and easy online claims. The company didn’t fare well in the 2020 J.D. Power U.S. Small Commercial Insurance Study. It does, however, hold solid A+ ratings from both AM Best and the Better Business Bureau.
Although The Hartford’s robust inland marine policies can be purchased on their own, you can also choose inland marine coverage as an add-on to certain policies such as a business owner policy. You can also create a custom policy by combining inland marine coverage with business property insurance, workers’ compensation, commercial auto coverage, and more. Pricing for business policies through The Hartford depends on company size and type of coverage, but the average monthly premium for basic general liability coverage is very affordable. Adding inland marine coverage will increase the premium based on the total value of the property you want to insure.
Unfortunately, The Hartford doesn’t advertise inland marine policies for certain small businesses that commonly need them, such as food trucks. Policies are better geared toward established small businesses with at least a few employees all the way up to larger companies.
Best Bailee Insurance: Great American Insurance Group
If you regularly have customers’ property in your possession, Great American Insurance Group provides the most comprehensive policy options to protect you from being held liable if they are damaged or stolen. For this reason, Great American was picked as best bailee insurance in this review.
Bailee insurance tailored to B2B and B2C companies
Can be purchased alone or with other policies
Available in all 50 states and Canada
Limited policy information available online
Must call to purchase
Flood and earthquake requires additional coverage
Bailee’s customers’ insurance, or simply bailee insurance, is a crucial type of inland marine insurance for any type of business that takes temporary possession of customers’ property. A few common examples are dry cleaners, valets, storage units, and electronics repair shops. This type of policy protects you from financial responsibility if a customer’s belongings are damaged or stolen while in your care, a liability that is excluded from your commercial property insurance policy.
While many commercial insurers offer bailee insurance as optional riders to other policies, Great American Insurance Group stands out with both standalone and combined coverage. The provider offers two different types of bailee insurance: Bailee Legal Liability Coverage, which applies to B2B companies, and Bailees’ Customer Coverage for businesses that offer retail and consumer services.
Each policy covers a long list of perils not included in all comparable policies from competitors, such as property that can’t be returned due to misidentification and property that must be moved to a third-party location in an emergency. One thing to note is that floods and earthquakes aren’t automatically included as named perils and must be added separately. If for some reason your specific need isn’t covered under Great American Insurance Group’s bailee policy, the provider’s inland marine miscellaneous floater probably will.
Great American Insurance Group is a longstanding insurance company that has been in business for nearly 150 years and currently holds an A+ (Superior) financial stability rating from AM Best. The provider has a dedicated property and inland marine division staffed with nearly 30 experts who have an average of 20 years experience. Policies are available in all 50 U.S. states and Canada.
Best for Contractors: Chubb
Through every step of the building process, Chubb policies offer the most complete coverage for structures, equipment, and tools, and Chubb ranks as our top pick for contractors in need of inland marine protection.
Covers individual contractors and major construction firms alike
Equipment coverage for owned, leased, and employee property
Specialized policies include risk management services
Can only be purchased through an agent
Combining with bodily injury liability requires customization
Limited options for data and technology
We know the term “contractor” is a wide umbrella that covers general contractors, tradesmen, major construction firms, and everyone in between. But each of them can benefit from inland marine insurance, and they’ll all find it with Chubb. In fact, Chubb first opened its doors in the late 18th century as an issuer of marine insurance policies and later became one of the first to offer what we now call inland marine insurance during the California Gold Rush.
Chubb’s inland marine policies cover a variety of different needs for contractors. Builder’s risk insurance is available for both residential and commercial contractors as well as small single-location builders, designed to protect structures as they are being built or renovated. An additional policy is available for contractors’ tools, which covers owned equipment, leased equipment, and employees’ personal tools. For major infrastructure projects, Chubb offers engineered risk insurance to protect against property damage and lost revenue due to human error or catastrophic events. All customized inland marine policies include basic risk management services with their premiums.
In terms of industry ratings, Chubb does better than most competitors across the board. The company holds the topmost A++ financial stability rating from AM Best. Chubb narrowly took first place in the 2020 J.D. Power U.S. Small Commercial Insurance Study. Chubb is currently the largest publicly traded property and casualty insurer in the world.
Best for Accounts Receivable: Nationwide
Selected as best for accounts receivable in our review, Nationwide’s inland marine policies cover a broad range of perils to help you protect your cash flow and grow your business faster.
Provides extensive accounts receivable coverage
Industry-leading business insurance provider
Good online tools
Only available as a policy add-on
Not included in online quote tool
Unavailable in Alaska or Hawaii
Accounts receivable coverage is a perfect example of how inland marine insurance has evolved throughout the years. This type of policy covers losses typically caused by damage to accounts receivable records. While accounts receivable insurance is a fairly common type of coverage for businesses to carry, many people don’t know that it technically falls within the inland marine family.
Nationwide offers an inclusive accounts receivable policy that covers not just damaged records, but also additional named perils like unexpected cancellation of import/export permits or contracts and refusal of clients to accept goods. This coverage is offered as part of a top-rated lineup of business insurance products, which is good news since this particular insurer won’t allow you to purchase an accounts receivable policy on its own. Nationwide typically offers accounts receivable as optional coverage that can be added to a business owner policy.
Unfortunately, Nationwide falls a bit short in failing to include accounts receivable coverage in its online quote tool. Most businesses can get an instant quote through the Nationwide website for basic types of coverage, but you’ll have to call to get pricing information on accounts receivable. You should also know that Nationwide business insurance is only available in the continental United States.
Best for Jewelry: Jewelers Mutual
Jewelers Mutual’s policies provide more thorough coverage than homeowners insurance riders and commercial property insurance, which is why the company's inland marine protection is best for jewelry.
Policies for both individuals and businesses
Individuals can get an instant online quote
No online tools for business customers
Only sells Jewelry related insurance
Requires an appraisal
Businesses aren’t the only inland marine insurance customers. Individuals also take out these types of policies, albeit frequently without realizing it. Jewelry is a great demonstration of this; since most homeowners insurance policies don’t cover fine jewelry, many homeowners have to purchase an inland marine policy to make sure their high-value pieces are protected.
Jewelers Mutual is a dedicated jewelry insurer that underwrites both individual and business inland marine policies for jewelry. Individual customers can get instant quotes online by simply providing the type of jewelry, replacement value, and location. The company estimates that coverage costs approximately 1% to 2% of the piece’s value each year. When we asked for a quote on a $10,000 ring, we were given a wide variety of reasonable price options based upon how much deductible you want to have. Deductibles ranged from $0 to $5,000. Note that you’ll need to get an appraisal before your quote is finalized.
Businesses can also take advantage of an impressive range of jewelry insurance options through Jewelers Mutual. These include policies for jewelers and pawn shops, shipping coverage, and customer care plans. Unfortunately, online tools are limited for business customers. Coverage can only be obtained through an agent and there’s no online claims process.
Jewelers Mutual is an established insurance underwriter that has been around since 1913. The company has earned an A+ financial stability rating from AM Best and is trusted by major carriers such as Geico as an official jewelry insurance partner.
Best for Photographers: Allstate
Allstate has the best understanding of photographers’ unique insurance needs, including inland marine coverage for transporting equipment, making Allstate our top inland marine insurance pick for photographers.
Full-service insurance package for photographers includes transit
Can’t be purchased alone
Average customization options
Limited information without speaking to an agent
Photographers are among the professionals who often travel with their equipment, and an inland marine policy can help make sure their business assets are protected. Allstate’s policies for photographers include inland marine combined with additional types of coverage to make sure there are never any gaps. Equipment including cameras, lenses, computers, lighting kits, and more are all covered under the policy, and inland marine coverage ensures that protection is extended wherever your next shoot takes you.
Allstate’s policies for photographers are incredibly affordable. For a home-based photography business with $50,000 in equipment to insure, we were quoted a very low monthly rate. That includes general liability and commercial property in addition to inland marine elements such as accounts receivable and property off-premises. The only drawback is that coverage isn’t as customizable as some competitors allow. In our quote, we were only given three different coverage levels to choose from without the option to change the amount of coverage on specific line items.
Allstate is a well-established insurer mainly known for its home and auto policies. The company has been around since 1931 and currently holds an A+ rating from AM Best. Allstate is frequently recognized for its online tools and was awarded second place for service in the 2020 J.D. Power U.S. Insurance Digital Experience Study.
Best for Food Trucks: Food Liability Insurance Program
Food trucks need highly specified insurance policies that combine inland marine coverage with traditional food service coverage. The Food Liability Insurance Program is the leading industry expert in these policies and our choice as best for food trucks.
Underwritten by Great American Insurance Group
Easy online quote tool
Policies start at $299 per year
Limited options for coverage limits
Less than a decade in business
Food trucks are booming in popularity; just between 2018 and 2019, the total industry grew by 20% from $800 million to $950 million in the United States. But food trucks are unique businesses to insure as their assets don’t remain in the same location. An inland marine insurance policy is needed to protect the contents of a food truck as it operates throughout various locations. The Food Liability Insurance Program offers specialized food truck insurance policies that include inland marine coverage as a core component.
The Food Liability Insurance Program’s policies include two options for inland marine coverage: $5,000 per item and $10,000 per policy year or $10,000 per item and $50,000 per policy year. Each has a $250 deductible per claim. Premiums start at $299 per year, although our policy price doubled when we chose the higher inland marine limit option. Annual payments must be made upfront, and the company doesn’t offer refunds if you cancel before the end of the term.
Although the Food Liability Insurance Program was created somewhat recently in 2012, policies are underwritten by Great American Insurance Group, a well-established insurer that appears as its own contender on this list. Great American Insurance Group has been in business since the mid-19th century and has an A+ financial stability rating from AM Best.
What Is Inland Marine Insurance?
Inland marine insurance refers to a type of insurance coverage for property that isn’t kept in a fixed location. This type of policy might apply to goods that are being shipped across land, customer property that is in your possession, structures and equipment at a construction site, and your business’ property while it is stored in a third-party location. It’s also often used to insure high-value items that are excluded from commercial property and homeowners insurance policies.
Why Is It Called Inland Marine Insurance?
The concept of inland marine insurance first originated from marine insurance, one of the earliest types of insurance policies that were used as early as the middle ages to distribute financial risk among sea ventures. Once goods started being transported over land, inland marine insurance was born, with some of the first advertised policies appearing in the mid-1800s. In the years since, insurers have found new ways to apply inland marine insurance to any type of property that is transported or frequently changes locations.
What Perils Does Inland Marine Insurance Cover?
Similar to commercial property insurance, inland marine insurance covers perils such as water damage, fire, theft, and vandalism. However, inland marine insurance differs from commercial property insurance in how property is viewed. The latter is designed to protect your property while it is located at your named business address, while the former can protect both customer property in your possession and your property while it is located elsewhere.
What Does Inland Marine Insurance Typically Exclude?
Inland marine insurance typically won’t cover neglect or intentional acts carried out by you or your employees. Bodily injury is not covered, nor is liability that would fall under a general commercial liability policy. For some types of inland marine coverage, there may be additional prerequisites. For example, improperly packed items that are damaged in transport are unlikely to be covered.
How Much Does Inland Marine Insurance Cost?
Inland marine insurance is most often offered as an add-on or rider to other commercial insurance policies, most commonly a business owner policy. Business owner policies can cost as little as $299 per year for small businesses, although adding inland marine coverage will typically increase that price. The biggest determining factor in the cost of inland marine insurance is the total value of items you want to protect.
How We Chose the Inland Marine Insurance Companies
We examined 20 different inland marine insurance providers in order to choose the best companies overall. The most important factor we took into consideration was the scope of coverage available, such as which industries were covered, the type of coverage offered, and any specific items or perils that were excluded. We also looked at price, taking overall policy pricing into consideration in cases where inland marine insurance couldn’t be purchased on its own. Finally, we looked to industry resources on financial stability and customer satisfaction, such as J.D. Power, AM Best, and the Better Business Bureau.
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