Strange marine insurance claims: The case of the kidnapped helicopter

Jul 13, 2012 – David St. Martin: We’ve had crazy claims over the years. To give you a ‘for instance’, about a hundred years ago when we were doing a lot of freight forwarders, when Russia was really a hot bed of theft and corruption, we had a helicopter that went into a container. The container was stolen from the port and when the (thieves) got it back to wherever their hideout was, they said, “Oh Jesus, it’s a helicopter!”

They started sending notes to the consignee saying, “We have your helicopter. Pay some money and we’ll release it!” So we arranged to pay sort of a ransom for this thing. We sent a guy from here who was a marine surveyor. We sent him down there with basically a bag full of money to do our bidding for us and get the thing back.

In certain cases I wouldn’t say that’s really standard fare, but at the very essence of the thing, if there’s piracy, most of the time it’s the vessel that’s being commandeered and not so much the cargo. That’s not our issue either because there is separate hull insurers, boat insurers that deal with the theft of or piracy of a vessel. But in the very essence of it, if a pirate was to take some cargo off the back (of a ship) that would be basically a theft claim.