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HomeBill of LadingImpact of insurance on Express Bill of Lading

Impact of insurance on Express Bill of Lading

image for reader questionDo you have an idea about the impact upon insurance, in case of loss, when the insured use the Express BL.

I’m an insurance agent in Tunisia and I have a client who wants to replace the original BL by the Express BL in case of loss. The insurer doesn’t want to accept because, in his opinion, he can’t recover his outlay.

Technically speaking there is no “Express Bill of Lading” but only an “Express Release”..

Express Release is a form of release used for the release of cargo covered under a Sea Waybill of Lading..

As I have mentioned in my article about What is a Bill of Lading, a bill of lading fulfills 3 roles

  1. Evidence of Contract of Carriage
  2. Receipt of Goods and
  3. Document of Title to the goods

Sea Waybill of Lading – only satisfies roles 1 & 2 of a bill of lading and does not satisfy role 3 (Document of Title) as the document is not negotiable or transferable..

The core question is whether cargo insurance will be affected if a Sea Waybill is used and Alexander Robertson of Robertson’s Cargo Consultancy opines as below :

Image for Insurance PolicyNo matter what carriage document is used by the carrier for the carriage of cargo, the carrier is still obliged to “carry, care for and deliver” the cargo in good order.  No carrier can opt out of liability because the transport document is a Sea Waybill.

Liability is set not only by the law of the country of destination, but is sometimes also set by the country of origin (in this case Tunisia who is a signatory to the Hamburg Rules).

Many countries insist that their Carriage of Goods by Sea Act (COGSA) has precedence, for example, in all instances, cargo to and from the USA is always subject to the USA COGSA.

Under the USA COGSA, any liability would be limited to a maximum of USD500.00 per package, whereas under the Hamburg Rules, maximum liability would be equivalent to 835 units of account per package or other shipping unit or 2.5 units of account per kilogram of gross weight of the goods lost or damaged, whichever is the higher.

This Unit of Account is what is known as Special Drawing Rights (SDR).  The exchange rate can be obtained from the International Monetary Fund website (  The rate applicable shall be that ruling at the time of settlement.

Some of the Sea Waybill stationery may not have any clauses, but the carrier still has to comply with the COGSA of the country exporting or importing the cargo.

So the short answer to the question is : Sea Waybill of Lading will not affect any recovery prospects in any way in case of a claim.

robertsonsAbout Robertson’s Cargo Consultancy (Pty.) Limited

Robertson’s Cargo Consultancy is a TETA accredited training provider in South Africa with a combined staff experience of over a 100 years, offering training courses in

  • Logistics
  • Cargo Insurance (endorsed by the Insurance Institute of South Africa)
  • Letter of Credit
  • Incoterms ® 2010 (SA ICC accredited)
  • Trade Documentation, among other topics

For further details Alexander Robertson maybe contacted via email


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Hariesh Manaadiar
Hariesh Manaadiar
I am Hariesh Manaadiar, the Founder of Shipping and Freight Resource.. I have been in the dynamic shipping and freight industry for over three decades and have worked in several sectors.. I share my experiences and knowledge of the industry through this blog for those looking for help in the industry.. Stay subscribed for more free useful content about shipping, freight, maritime, logistics, supply chain and trade..


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