Damage due to moisture and condensation of containerized goods

Since the transportation of containerized goods is usually covered at all-risk terms and conditions,

cargo insurers soon find themselves being called on to indemnify damage due to moisture and condensation. This is by far the main cause of losses in container traffic.


Containers are like scaled-down versions of a ship’s hold and are therefore subject to the same microclimatic conditions as those found on a conventional vessel. In the course of a long voyage,

they pass through different climate zones with different temperatures (possibly visiting four continents on the way and encountering different seasons and rain and dry periods!). Condensation may form, leaving considerable quantities of water on the cargo or on the roof, walls, and doors inside the container. This can amount to as much as 50–70 litres in a 20’ container. How much water actually accumulates depends on the temperature difference, the moisture content of the remaining air and the goods in the container, the packaging materials, and the residual moisture in pallets or the wooden container floor. This will damage not only the goods but also the containers themselves.


Water damage due to the ingress of seawater also comes into this category. This may be caused by minor leaks in the top and side walls, loose adhesive or material sealing the joint between the side walls and the frame, and most particularly by rubber door seals that are brittle or damaged. In many cases, leaks are due to misplaced spreader corner locks piercing holes in the top or by the fork arms of a fork-lift truck missing the fork pockets at the bottom of the container and piercing the sidewall.


Containers stowed on deck, particularly those at the forward end of the ship are continuously exposed to spray from breaking seawater. If the containers are not absolutely water tight, this will

certainly have a lasting effect on the cargo and lead to a loss that has to be indemnified.


Source: Munich Re Publication : “Containers”


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