Getting ahead of marine liability risks

March 29, 2023

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When goods and machinery are produced on one side of the world and shipped to another, challenges arise.

After a loss, there are documents to review, shipping regulations to navigate and liability issues to uncover. Whether a company is shipping perishable goods from Peru to the Netherlands or steel throughout Europe, there are laws and compliance requirements to consider. The supply chain has not fully recovered from years of factory closures, border restrictions and overcrowded ports — making it even more challenging to conduct business as usual post-loss and determine liability.

Valuable and vulnerable loads

Imagine a company is dealing with particularly valuable and/or vulnerable loads. During transportation of these goods, there are several touchpoints that often require a second set of eyes before determining possible liability. On behalf of customers, we frequently review the handling process of these goods to inspect their condition and verify lashing/securing measures, as well as subsequent loading/unloading methods. By playing a role in the supply chain, the state of the goods is clear before any potential risk or transfer of responsibility takes place.

After all, at various touchpoints, different handlers with different agreements are in progress. Confirming that all goods are in proper order before they are transferred to the next party in the chain can make a significant difference during a potential claim in the future — saving time and money. Assessing the condition at various ports before, during and after shipping is key to identifying any losses or damages that may have occurred.

Bulk goods

The role we have in this point of the supply chain is unique, as usually only loading or unloading surveys tend to be carried out. Consider the example of common practices with bulk goods. At Sedgwick, we have expertise to carry out surveys at various stages of the supply chain, as well as for very different loads such as breakbulk goods, containers and air cargo. Our vast network is ready at a moment’s notice to arrive at terminals and take part in each requested transfer stage. If goods are damaged when they arrive, our experienced colleagues quickly assess the damages on site and assist with mitigation. To calculate the exact loss, it is crucial for our team to understand how the goods are processed, the state of the goods after production, the intended end product and where it is marketed.

Documentation and awareness

In addition to being present on the ground to assess the condition of goods, our team can investigate the stream of information and documentation that is involved. This way, we can detect possible hick-ups in the supply chain before they get the chance to develop into full blown delays or other inconveniences that might lead to monetary losses. Moreover, we intend to generate awareness for all parties involved about the consequences that might result from the manner in which documentation is being drawn up. In the unfortunate event of damage to goods, there’s potential to complicate or hinder effective resolutions if documentation is not completed properly. Maximizing the chances to successfully recover from a financial loss is a key area of focus when investigating the stream of information and documentation.

Carrying out surveys

No matter the type of cargo or complexity of a marine liability claim, a comprehensive survey should be completed. Many shipping agreements are made via email or telephone and there is a chance that contract details are missed. Reviewing all documents, agreements and regulations, and generating a thorough report helps support the claims resolution process. Beyond the loading survey of goods, having a partner to assist with the investigation ensures smooth supply chain operations that can just as easily be carried out at other stages of transport, storage or handling.

In an unpredictable environment, companies must anticipate future challenges and be prepared to take early action. Before supply chain disruptions occur, make sure your organization has a clear plan in place and a partner they can trust. Whether you need support with determining liability during shipment, tracking the production process, assisting with forwarding issues, reviewing packaging requirements, investigating thefts or identifying issues involving perishables — Sedgwick’s global team can support. For more information, please contact us at [email protected] or [email protected].