Scroll to the top

Section 4: Right of the insurer to take over the object insured upon payment of a claim

  • Clause 5-19. Right of the insurer to take over the object insured

    Sub-clause 1 confirms the principle that, upon payment of compensation, the insurer is subrogated to the assured’s rights in the object insured or such parts thereof as he has indemnified. The rule applies to damage as well as to total loss, and entails that the insurer takes over all the objects which are comprised by the sum insured or the compensation which is paid, cf. first sentence.

    In the case of damage, the greatest practical significance of the principle is in hull insurance, where repair work will often result in a quantity of scrap iron becoming available, in addition to damaged parts of a certain value. However, in a number of cases such parts will be left with the repair yard, either in return for the assured being credited for the value of the material in the repair settlement, or because a clause is incorporated in the repair contract to the effect that everything that is scrapped during the repairs will accrue to the repair yard without compensation, cf. Brækhus/ Rein: Håndbok i kaskoforsikring (Handbook of Hull Insurance), p. 604. This will normally reduce the repair invoice for the insurer, and this means that there shall be no transfer to him under Cl. 5-19. However, the rule becomes applicable if the remaining parts do not accrue to the repair yard, but are sold to a third party. In that event, the proceeds must accrue to the insurer, or possibly be divided between the insurer and the assured under Cl. 5-13, cf. below.

    In the event of a total loss, the insurer is subrogated to the title to the wreck. The title comprises the wreck with all appurtenances that were covered under the insurance at the time the total loss occurred.

    The insurer is entitled to waive ownership if he has explicitly made a statement to that effect no later than upon payment of the compensation. The insurer is therefore able to protect himself against the burdens that may be associated with owning what is left of the object insured or parts thereof and disposing of same. Under the 1964 Plan, this rule applied only to total losses; now it also covers the damage situation. This right will, however, be particularly relevant in the event of a total loss, where wreck-removal and pollution liability may be imposed on the owner of the wreck. In hull insurance, where the question is most relevant, the risk is admittedly limited by Cl. 5-20, sub-clause 1, which states that the insurer shall not bear the costs of removal that are not covered by the sale of the wreck. However, the position as owner of the wreck may expose the insurer to the risk of incurring liability for damages to third parties.

    In practice, there have been cases where the insurer has wanted to take advantage of the value of the wreck without taking over the title to the wreck, inter alia for fear of potential pollution liability, cf. below. The Plan does not open the door to such a solution. If the insurer wants to take advantage of the value of the wreck, he will also have to take over ownership. There is, however, nothing to prevent the insurer and the assured from agreeing to the assured selling the wreck to a third party and having the proceeds deducted from the total loss compensation, or paid to the insurer if the total loss compensation has already been paid to the assured. However, the insurer does not have any right to demand this procedure if the assured refuses to co-operate.

    If the insurer takes over the vessel, a change of ownership will in principle take place, with the consequence that the vessel’s insurances will cease, cf. Cl. 3-21. If the vessel subsequently causes pollution liability, this will accordingly be the insurer’s own risk, cf. below in Cl. 5-20, unless the risk of a pollution liability had already struck the vessel at the time when the title to the vessel passed to the insurer.

    In practice, it is conceivable that the wreck is sacrificed (is sunk or bombed) in order to avoid pollution liability. If the wreck had a certain value when it was sacrificed, it may be alleged that the hull insurer’s interest in the wreck value of the vessel was sacrificed in order to safeguard the interests of the assured and the P&I insurer in avoiding pollution liability. In that event the assured, and subsequently the P&I insurer, should be liable for the wreck value in relation to the hull insurer. If the hull insurer has taken over the wreck after having paid total-loss compensation, or having clearly indicated before the vessel was sacrificed that he is willing to take over the wreck, he must accordingly have a claim against the assured. However, the hull insurer will normally hesitate to do this because of the risk of having to cover pollution liability. Thus, if the hull insurer has adopted a wait-and-see approach before the wreck is sacrificed, he is only entitled to claim a refund for the wreck value from the assured or the latter’s P&I insurer, if he establishes that he would have taken over the wreck.

    The insurer is only subrogated to the right to the whole or parts of the object insured to the extent that he has covered the loss. In case of a total loss, the sum insured becomes payable without any deductions or deductibles. The insurer then takes over the full title to the wreck, unless there is under-insurance, cf. the reference to Cl. 2-4. Such a situation will rarely arise in hull insurance for ocean-going vessels when using agreed insurance contracts, but in exceptional cases it is reasonable that the assured is entitled to his proportionate share of what is left. Under the 1964 Plan, the reference to Cl. 9 concerned only total losses - after the merger of the two provisions, it also comprises cases of damage.

    In the event of damage, however, the assured will often have to bear a portion of the loss himself in the form of deductions and deductibles, in which case he will have to retain a corresponding portion of the value of the parts or objects which have been replaced or compensated. The apportionment must be effected in the same way as when the assured has a claim for damages against a third party in connection with the damage, cf. the reference to Cl. 5-13 in sub-clause 3.

    View Clause Go to Plan page

    Clause 5-19. Right of the insurer to take over the object insured

    Upon payment of compensation for damage or total loss, the insurer is subrogated to the assured's rights in the object insured or such parts of the object insured as it has indemnified, unless it , no later than the time of payment, waives this right. Cl. 2-4 shall apply correspondingly. In the...

  • Clause 5-20. Charges on the object insured

    Sub-clause 1 regulates the position where the insurer is ordered to remove objects (wreck, equipment) which he has taken over. In the 1964 Plan, the rule applied only to the insurer’s take-over of the wreck; now it also applies to damage, e.g., where the insurer has taken over ownership of a lost anchor or other parts according to Cl. 5-19 and has later been ordered to remove them.

    Under Section 18, third sub-clause, cf. Section 20, of the Norwegian Act of 8 June 1984 No. 51 relating to port authorities (Havne- og farvannsloven), the port authorities may remove a wreck which constitutes an inconvenience to the port or impedes general traffic. The costs of removal may be covered by the wreck and, if this is not sufficient, by the owner who will, however, normally have only limited liability. Similar rules apply in most countries.

    The hull insurer does not cover the assured’s liability in these cases, cf. Cl. 4-13. However, liability for the removal of the wreck may arise after the insurer has taken over title thereto under Cl. 5-19. Given that the hull insurer is entitled under the Plan to waive title to the wreck, one might think that he should also be fully liable for the costs of removal in the cases where he has decided to take over the wreck. However, there is a long-standing tradition in marine insurance law that the assured (in reality his P&I insurer) shall refund the insurer the portion of the costs which exceeds the value of the removed wreck. In practice, an order to refund the costs of removal will only be issued where the wreck is worthless and the responsibility for the removal could appear to be a trap for the hull insurer if he has failed to waive title to the wreck.

    If the wreck founders after the insurer has taken it over, but as a consequence of the same casualty which resulted in the payment of the total-loss claim, the assured (his P&I insurer) shall pay the removal costs, if any. The liability must here be regarded as having arisen as a consequence of a casualty that occurred while the insurance was in effect. If, however, the wreck founders in consequence of a new casualty which occurs after it was taken over by the hull insurer, the assured (his P&I insurer) will not be liable for the removal costs under sub-clause 1. A hull insurer who takes over a wreck that is afloat should therefore consider taking out separate P&I insurance for the wreck-removal risk. As regards what constitutes a “new casualty”, reference is made to the comments in Cl. 4-18.

    If the wreck suffers a new casualty after the insurer has taken it over, and the impaired condition of the vessel after the first casualty is a contributory cause, the wreck-removal liability should nevertheless lie entirely with the hull insurer, cf. also Brækhus/Rein: Håndbok i kaskoforsikring (Handbook of Hull Insurance), p. 605.

    Under certain P&I insurance conditions, the insurance coverage ceases in the event of a casualty. In practice, such provisions have been applied as an authority for the P&I insurer to withdraw from the insurance contract before the details of the casualty have been finally clarified. The question then arises whether the hull insurers by taking over the wreck risk also taking over increased liability for the removal of the wreck, possibly also a pollution liability, as owners of the wreck. If the Plan has been used as background law for the P&I insurance, such a clause cannot exempt the P&I insurer from liability. A deciding factor must be when “the peril struck”, not when liability arose and, as regards wreck-removal liability and pollution liability resulting from a total loss, the peril will have struck when the casualty occurred. Consequently, the fact that the insurance ceases before the wreck has to be removed or the actual pollution occurs is irrelevant to the P&I insurer’s liability.

    If the P&I insurance is effected on conditions with a background law other than the Plan, other solutions may well be reached as regards the P&I insurer’s liability. However, it is difficult to see how the liability of the hull insurer as owner of the wreck can be increased even if the P&I insurer withdraws. If liability for the wreck-removal and potential pollution is a foreseeable consequence of the casualty that triggered the total loss, this must basically be the liability of the assured as the person causing the damage. The fact that the P&I insurer refuses to cover this liability means that the assured is left without insurance cover, but it cannot imply that liability is transferred to the new owner, viz. the hull insurer. Another matter is that it may be difficult to decide what are foreseeable consequences of the total loss and what constitutes a new casualty. The solution to this question must follow the general principles for the distinction between one and several casualties, cf. above.

    Charges that do not concern the insurance, e.g. maritime liens for claims not covered by the insurance, do not concern the insurer, cf. sub-clause 2. The assured must cover such charges, regardless of whether or not he is personally liable for the claim.

    The provision concerns only charges that have arisen before the title to the object insured passed to the insurer. If the wreck, after having become the property of the insurer, causes damage for which the owner becomes liable, it is the insurer, and not the assured, who must cover this liability. Nor will the insurer be entitled to claim cover under the assured’s P&I insurance.

    Under the laws of some countries, the owner of the wreck has the right to abandon it to cover his liability for damages to a third party. If the owner is held liable after the title to the wreck has passed to the hull insurer, the owner must nevertheless be able to exercise his right to limit liability in the event of abandonment. A rule to this effect is explicitly stated in sub-clause 3. The rule of abandonment entails that the hull insurer loses the proceeds from the wreck, but it must apply even if the hull insurer does not cover the liability which attempts are made to limit, cf. Brækhus/Rein: Håndbok i kaskoforsikring (Handbook of Hull Insurance), p. 602.

    The provision presupposes that the vessel is “abandoned”. If the vessel is sunk as a measure to avoid pollution liability, this does not constitute “abandoning the vessel”. Such loss shall therefore be charged to the P&I insurer as costs of measures taken to avoid pollution liability.

    View Clause Go to Plan page

    Clause 5-20. Charges on the object insured

    If the insurer, after having taken over all or part of the object insured pursuant to Cl. 5-19, becomes liable for the costs of its removal, the assured shall reimburse the insurer the costs which exceed the value of what is removed. If there is a charge on the object insured in respect of...

  • Clause 5-21. Preservation of the object insured

    Under Cl. 3-30, it is the assured’s duty to take measures to avert or minimise loss, and under Cl. 4-12 the insurer shall cover the costs involved in such measures. However, it may be doubtful whether these rules are applicable if it has already been established that a total loss has occurred, e.g., that the vessel will be condemned. The sub-clause therefore establishes that it is the assured’s duty to preserve the wreck for the insurer’s account until the insurer gets the opportunity to safeguard his own interests, irrespective of whether or not the total-loss claim has been paid. This also applies if it takes time to decide the total-loss question, and considerable costs are incurred in keeping watch, paying port fees, etc. If, however, the insurer has accepted liability for the total loss vis-à-vis the assured, but stated that he is not willing to incur costs involved in preserving the object insured, the assured must respect this decision. Any expenses incurred will, in that event, be his risk.

    If the assured fails to perform his duties, he may, depending on the circumstances, incur liability for damages to the insurer.

    If the insurer refuses to take over the wreck, he will not be liable for costs involved in measures that are subsequently taken.

    View Clause Go to Plan page

    Clause 5-21. Preservation of the object insured

    The insurer is liable for costs of necessary measures to preserve the object insured incurred after a casualty that entitles the assured to compensation for total loss. The assured shall also implement such measures after the object insured has been taken over by the insurer, if the latter is...

  • Clause 5-22. Right of subrogation of the insurer in respect of damage to the object insured

    When the insurer takes over the object insured, the question arises as to what will happen to the claims for damages the assured has against third parties in connection with damage to the object insured. If a claim has arisen from the casualty that has resulted in a total loss, the matter is clear. The insurer will be subrogated to the claim under the general rules contained in Chapter 5, Section 3, of the Plan. However, it is conceivable that the vessel has some older damage for which a third party is wholly or partly liable, or that new damage occurs after the occurrence of the casualty entitling the assured to a total-loss compensation, but before the compensation has been paid. In those cases, it may be doubtful whether the insurer can also be considered to have compensated the damage when he pays the total-loss claim, so that the rules in Chapter 5, Section 3, may become applicable. To avoid any misunder­standing, it is therefore stated explicitly in the first sentence that the insurer shall also take over such claims.

    However, the insurer cannot make any deductions in the total-loss claim if the assured has already received compensation in advance from a third party. The financial results may therefore vary, depending on whether or not the assured at the time of the loss has received compensation from a third party. Nevertheless, no reason has been found to introduce a rule that leads to a different result. It is not very realistic to think that a hull insurer, when paying a total-loss claim, will demand information from the assured, e.g., about what compensation he has received in recent years from his time-charterers in connection with unrepaired stevedore damage etc.

    Another question is whether third-party liability for the damage shall cease to be in effect because the person suffering the damage (the assured) is also entitled to total-loss compensation under his insurance. This is a question that comes under the law of torts, cf. ND 1942.449 Bergen Bjønn, where a claim for damages was not considered to have lapsed because of the subsequent total loss.

    The second sentence establishes that the insurer does not have any right of subrogation to the assured’s claim against third parties under insurance contracts. As regards insurance claims relating to older damage, the provision is bound up with the rule in Cl. 11-1, sub-clause 2, to the effect that the hull insurer cannot make any deductions for unrepaired damage when he pays compensation for a total loss, and with the fact that, according to standard practice, he furthermore does not have recourse against the insurer who may be liable for the damage, cf. the Commentary on Cl. 11-1. As regards casualties which occur after the casualty entitling the assured to total-loss compensation, the result also follows from Cl. 11-9, sub-clause 1, according to which the insurers who are not liable for the total loss are not liable for new casualties occurring after the casualty that resulted in a total loss, either. Thus, if the vessel has suffered an extensive casualty as a consequence of marine perils, and the insurer against marine risks wants a war-risk cover of the value which the wreck will represent to him in case of condemnation, he will have to take out a separate war-risk insurance from the moment the assured requests condemnation.

    View Clause Go to Plan page

    Clause 5-22. Right of subrogation of the insurer in respect of damage to the object insured

    The insurer is subrogated to the assured's claim against third parties who are liable to pay compensation for damage to the object insured that has been covered by the insurer. However, this does not apply to claims under insurance contracts.