DEFINITION of Voyage Policy

A voyage policy, also known as marine cargo insurance, is a marine insurance policy that covers unforeseen risks on the cargo on a ship on a particular voyage. It is thus not time-based, like most insurance policies. When the insured voyage ends, so does the policy. It does not cover the ship itself, but only the specified cargo on it.


A voyage policy covers unforeseen risks. Because it does not provide cover against preventable risks, in order for a voyage policy to be valid, the vessel transporting the cargo must be in good condition and capable of making the journey, and the vessel's crew must be competent. Voyage policies will generally cover against accidental damages and collisions as well as natural disasters. Losses due to delays can be covered as well. Voyage policies usually exclude losses caused by willful misconduct, ordinary leakage, ordinary wear and tear, improper or inadequate packaging and labor strikes. Acts of war and terrorist activity will also usually be excluded. The policyholder may need to purchase additional insurance to cover the cargo during the entire transport process, because voyage policies usually exclude losses that occur during loading and unloading of the cargo onto and off the ship.

The policy will be in place for the duration of the specified voyage, irrespective of the time it takes (for example, if there are unanticipated delays en route, coverage remains in place until the voyage ends.) This allows for factors such as inclement weather at sea, or unavailability of docking at the destination port.

Importance of Voyage Policies

Voyage policies are particularly important for exporters to insure their goods before they reach their destination seaport. Because each policy is specific to a particular cargo and voyage, all details of which need to be recorded in the policy contract, voyage policies tend to be more useful for small or more infrequent exporters. Large exporters with frequent cargo journeys would prefer open cover marine insurance, which is time-based and covers all cargo shipped by a company during the period of cover.