Does your small business ship valuable items? Do you have a work vehicle that carries specialized equipment? Do you have goods in a warehouse run by a third party?

Then you may need inland marine insurance in order to keep your business and its belongings safe.

Similar to its counterpart—ocean marine insurance—inland marine insurance is a specific type of policy that protects a business’s goods, materials, and equipment during transportation and storage. The main difference is that it covers products that go over land, not by sea.

But how does inland marine insurance work and what does it cover? Let’s dive in!

The term “marine” tends to throw off most people who aren’t intimately familiar with the inner workings of insurance. This is an understandable mistake, since it’s easy to confuse it with ocean marine insurance coverage.

As the name implies, ocean marine insurance protects transported goods and equipment that are carried overseas. It provides additional coverage from:

  • Lost cargo
  • Lost revenue
  • Legal liability
  • General liability
  • Vessel damage

Inland marine insurance coverage was created as a counterpart to ocean marine. Prior to inland marine insurance, protection on goods lasted as far as the ports. But those goods still had further to go over land or by inland waterways before they reached their final destinations.

So, it made sense for insurance companies to offer protection for those losses as well. That insurance became known as inland marine insurance. It eventually evolved to the coverage we know today – coverage for property that regularly leaves an insured premises in the custody of the insured or entrusted by the insured to a third party.

When deciding what insurance you need, consider how your goods will be transported or where they may be located. It may be that you require both inland marine and ocean marine insurance in order to fully protect your business’s goods and equipment.

What does inland marine insurance cover?
Inland marine is what’s known as a “floater” policy: its coverage follows the insured property wherever it goes.

Inland marine coverage can help cover the cost of replacing or repairing equipment, whether it was stolen, lost, or damaged.

You might be thinking that your equipment is covered because you have commercial property insurance. However, a commercial property policy only insures items that were kept at the specifically listed location. Inland marine covers some of your exposure gaps by protecting your items when they’re on the go. This extends to various transportation methods, such as:

  • Air
  • Rail
  • Truck
  • Car
  • On Non-Owned Premises, such as when you are on the job

In addition to a standard policy, there are other types of inland marine add-ons and endorsements that provide specialized coverage, including:

  • Installation floater – Covers materials from the instant they are loaded onto a truck or van until they’re installed or used, usually in a newly renovated or constructed building.
  • Builder’s risk – Covers structures and materials during the course of construction or remodeling.
  • Exhibition and fine art coverage – Protects valuable items that are loaned, exhibited, or in transit to an exhibition.
  • Bailee’s customer coverage – Safeguards clients’ property if it’s temporarily left in your care, usually for repair or storage.
  • Motor truck cargo coverage – Keeps your clients’ items protected as you handle them for transportation and delivery to another location.
  • Contractor’s tools and equipment – Protects contractor’s tools whether they’re in storage, in transit, or on the job site.

If you have an inland marine policy, you won’t have to worry about the financial cost as a result of loss or damage to your or your client’s goods or equipment or tools while on the go.

Almost every company can benefit from inland marine insurance. Whether it’s for smaller items like laptops, cameras, and office hardware, or you need to insure heavy machinery and equipment, an inland marine policy is a wise investment for any business that moves its belongings from place to place.

That said, there are certain types of businesses that absolutely need it. Businesses typically suited for this type of policy include those that:

  • Have assets that move between business locations
  • Frequently ship property over land
  • Have property in a commercial vehicle that’s always on-the-go (like a food truck)
  • Ship expensive property

Common examples of professions that obtain inland marine include photographers, artists, contractors, landscapers, food trucks, and interior designers.

What about my equipment once I get to the jobsite?

Covered. Inland marine covers the business equipment (of the named insured) while away from the insured’s premises.

Equipment that is used for doing the job – both owned and rented equipment is covered. For example, if a landscaper’s lawn mower that is stolen while at a jobsite, with an inland marine policy his equipment – the lawn mower, is covered.

Great, so all my work equipment is covered right?

Not quite. Traditionally, inland marine coverage is sold on a “scheduled coverage” basis, which means coverage only extends to items specifically listed in the policy. As you can imagine this creates a number of gaps that could result in unforeseen costs.

That’s why at Thimble we decided to not only rename inland marine: so it makes sense to non-insurance folks but also to simplify and improve it. Meet Thimble’s Business Equipment Protection – insurance for your equipment.

As with other inland marine policies, certain types of equipment such as vehicles and watercraft are excluded. However, with Thimble, equipment is covered on a per item coverage limit. For example, the named insured has a $2,500 limit and in January, a $2,000 camera is stolen and then in March, a $900 lens is destroyed in a fire, both losses would be covered, because both are less than the $2,500 limit. For items worth more than $2500, you’ll need to schedule their coverage by listing their make and model, but there is no annual policy limit cap. That’s insurance that works for you.

Doesn’t my business insurance already cover my equipment?

You may have read through this and wondered: Aren’t I already protected from these circumstances by another business insurance policy?

While they may cover your property in some instances, odds are, there are additional coverage gaps you may not be aware of.

For instance:

Commercial property insurance – This type of property coverage guards your business’ assets that are located in a specifically named location (one that’s listed on the actual policy). People wrongly assume that their commercial property insurance covers their equipment when it leaves the office. In most instances, you need inland marine to cover your belongings when they and you are on the go.

General liability insurance – Taking out a general liability insurance policy is one of the most effective ways you can safeguard your business should an injury or property damage occur to a third party. However, it protects your client’s property—not your own.

Professional liability insurance – A professional liability insurance policy shields you from liability claims related to errors, omissions, or mistakes arising from your professional services that resulted in your client’s financial loss. That doesn’t cover the mistakes related to shipping and handling.

If you want to be safe, be sure to read through your existing policies and speak with your insurance agent or broker about the scope of your coverage. By doing your due diligence, you can make sure that your bases (and your belongings) are covered.

Protect your small business

What’s the best way to protect the assets of your small business and bolster your business’s long-term success?

By taking out business insurance!

With Thimble, getting the policy you need is fast and easy. In less than 60 seconds, you can get an affordable and flexible policy by the month, from an hour to a year. It’s insurance that works when you do, so you don’t have to spend a dime when you’re off the clock.

Click “Get a Quote”, input a few details about your business, and a free quote will be generated immediately.

We make insurance convenient, hassle-free, and affordable. With Thimble, it’s simple.

If you regularly ship items or bring costly work equipment to your job sites, then you want to protect your belongings.

Whether you bring them with you to a job or ship them abroad, shield your business items with Thimble’s Business Equipment Protection policy.