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The weird and wonderful commodities AM&T have insured under various marine insurance policies.

April 8, 2021

Insurance underwriting has often been described as part science, part art, and that can certainly be the case when it comes to Marine policies.

Over the last 9 years, our expert team of underwriters have been asked to consider some weird and wonderful commodities and have certainly needed a degree of understanding and occasionally some imagination when designing the policy.


Here are just a few examples of the types of commodities we’ve been asked to underwrite over the years at AM&T;

1. Windfarm turbine blades

Renewable energy has been a booming sector in recent years, thanks to some hefty government incentives. This has led to a proliferation of new windfarm projects around Australia. The equipment itself is almost entirely imported, usually from Europe or Asia. The trickiest part to transport is usually the blades. At up to 50 metres long they require delicate and specialist packing and handling. Oversize load protocols need to be followed and the remoteness of most windfarm locations adds a further complication with twisty rural roads needing to be navigated. Accidents – either contact with buildings, other vehicles or objects (trees, rockfaces, bridges etc) and rollovers are unfortunately common.

An example of this very situation occurred in 2019 in Tasmania when a truck caring a 70-metre wind turbine overturned on route to its final destination in the rural Tasmanian town of Bothwell. The 60-tonne truck rolled over and left the wind turbine blade across the road.

2. Artwork and artefacts

AM&T does not typically get involved in the insurance of artwork and artefacts but there are exceptions to every rule and a couple of years ago we participated in the insurance of “The Jade Buddha for Universal Peace”. The Buddha is carved from the world’s largest gemstone of rare translucent jade, is 2.5 metres high and weighs around 4 tonnes.
We insured the sculpture when it was on a world tour from its permanent home at The Great Stupa of Universal Compassion in Bendigo. Particular handling and security requirements were imposed, and valuation is a difficult issue with a cargo which is considered by its owners to be priceless.

3. Wild animals

While not a regular feature of our work at AM&T, we have been asked to insure various wild animals in transit from time to time including lions, polar bears and pandas being relocated between zoos. From an insurance perspective (Giraffes aside!) the physical risks of transporting these beasts are not substantially different to those for other more routine livestock. A big challenge however can be valuation…. understanding just how much a lion is worth and where you would source a replacement is certainly a challenge.

4. Hull insurance on tall ships and historic vessels

On the hull side, tall ships and historic vessels present interesting and unusual challenges. With such wonderful and bespoke craft as these, valuation can be an issue as can the availability of parts, materials and expertise for repairs. Many of these vessels are maintained and managed by volunteer societies which means that some of the normal commercial practices which would apply for the insurance of “production craft” don’t translate.

5. Tunnel boring machine

Tunnel boring machines capable of cutting a tunnel to accommodate three lanes of traffic can weigh in at around 4,000 tonnes each and stand 15.6 metres in diameter – as tall as a five-storey building – and can be up to be 90 metres long. This machinery is used for major road and rail projects across Australia. The insurance is usually a one-way trip because the machines literally dig their own graves and are buried at the completion of the project.

Marine Insurance Specialists

There is a vast array of commodities that need to be transported every day across Australia and the world, some of these commodities are irreplaceable, some are cumbersome and difficult to transport.

When it comes to marine cargo insurance, most brokers would not deal with this sort of thing every day. That is why brokers rely on us at AM&T for their marine insurance needs. No matter the nature of the cargo – whether it’s fresh or frozen food; bulky goods, manufactured or imported consumer goods – our experienced underwriters can help get the right cover by assessing clients’ individual needs, recommending the best value marine cargo insurance solution.

If you require marine insurance, contact our team of experts at AM&T, we deal with this type of insurance all day, every day. If you have something unusual to transport – give our team a call. We are up for the challenge.