Insurance for exporting and importing

Insuring goods in transit when exporting and importing


Cargo insurance covers loss of or damage to goods while in transit by land, sea and air.

Insurance for exports

Many exporters arrange insurance and freight but pass on the cost to the buyer. Where this is the case, your agreed terms are likely to be Cost Insurance Freight to a named destination port - in other words you are charging your customer for the cost of goods as well as insurance and freight to the port or airport of their choice.

The benefits of insuring goods to be exported:

  • you have greater control over the risk as the UK insurance industry is highly regulated
  • you could win business from competitors who do not offer insurance

Remember that if you leave your buyer to arrange insurance, they will do so before paying for the goods. You may not be paid in full if there's a problem and they're not adequately insured.

In addition, if the goods are rejected when they get to the port of entry or to the customer's premises, they won't be covered by insurance, and the responsibility will be back with you.

Insurance for imports

You will minimise your risks if you arrange insurance of goods that you import. You'll know how much you are paying and what's included. Your supplier might not be able to give you full details of insurance cover they arrange, or if they do, the information may not be entirely reliable.

The following types of cover are available:

  • open cover - for all journeys
  • specific (voyage) policy - for one-off shipments
  • seller's interest contingency - back-up for physical loss or damage where you have not arranged the cargo insurance

Where to get cargo insurance

A specialist cargo insurance broker will find you a good price, ensure the cover suits your needs and help you with claims. Search for a cargo insurance broker with the British Insurance Brokers Association (BIBA) .

You need to be aware that carriers, freight forwarders or third-party service suppliers will not automatically insure goods that are under their care or control. They can only do so if instructed in writing.

Insurance intermediaries must be registered with the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). This applies to freight forwarders and others who provide insurance of goods in transit.

See international transport and distribution.