What Warehouse Insurance is Required For In-House or 3PL Warehousing?

What Insurance is Required When You Operate Your Own Warehouse and When You Use a 3PL Warehouse?

Operating a warehouse, whether your own or a third-party logistics (3PL) warehouse, comes with risks and liabilities. To mitigate these risks, various types of insurance coverage are required. These coverages can differ based on whether you’re operating your warehouse or using a 3PL warehouse.

Warehousing is a critical component of the supply chain. It involves storing goods and products, often for extended periods, before they are shipped to their final destination. However, the operation of a warehouse, whether owned by a company or outsourced to a 3PL provider, comes with potential risks. These risks range from property damage and theft to worker injuries and legal liabilities. Therefore, insurance coverage is crucial to protect your business from potential financial losses.

Your goods are your business. Ensuring their safe transport from your production facilities to their subsequent warehouses and their safe storage is one of the most important considerations that you have to make as a business owner.
Insurance needed when using a 3PL

If your goods are lost or damaged while in the hands of a third-party warehouse provider, you could be looking at losses in revenue of tens of thousands of dollars or more without the ability to recoup those losses.

That’s why asking the right questions for in-house and 3PL fulfillment scenarios and choosing the right fulfillment center are critical decisions. Our clients often ask us questions about what kinds of insurance is required when using a 3PL warehouse provider and what kind of insurance should they include in their contracts? Others wonder what insurance and limits are needed if they run their own warehouse.

This post is all about answering those important questions and giving you a deeper understanding of the warehouse industry so that you can make informed decisions.


Warehouse Insurance Requirements and Coverage When Using a 3PL

Warehouse and transportation providers provide different warehouse insurance coverage, which makes it challenging to know exactly what you need. Each one has a different level of coverage and will cover your goods for different scenarios. Warehousing insurance is a type of insurance that protects businesses that store goods or inventory in a warehouse.

The warehouse insurance covers the physical building and its contents, including any equipment or machinery used to store or move the goods. It also covers loss of income due to interruptions in the business caused by covered events.

We are going to cover four of the most common types of insurance that you need to be aware of when contracting a 3PL provider for warehousing and transportation services, as well as what each one means for your business.

1. Warehouse Liability Insurance

Warehouse liability insurance is a type of coverage that protects your business from any legal liability resulting from damage or injury to third parties. It includes bodily injury, property damage, and other types of losses. With this type of coverage, warehouse operators protect themselves from potential claims made by customers, employees, or other third parties.

Warehouse legal liability insurance, also known as warehouseman legal liability insurance, covers legal liability arising from the handling and storing of goods. Warehouse legal liability insurance is only liable if it’s led by negligence.

Warehouse legal liability insurance is specifically tailored to safeguard physical goods owned by third parties. This coverage typically includes storage and transportation, cross-docking activities, packaging, labeling, and other related services.

Liability claims can stem from various situations, such as theft, fire or flooding, pest invasions, alterations in temperature, misplaced or lost items, and inadequate maintenance. Legal liability protection, often known as Bailee’s coverage, is particularly aimed at covering losses resulting from negligence.

Warehouse legal liability insurance covers a range of claims that include:

  • Damage to goods due to careless handling
  • Theft of goods because of poor security measures
  • Mishandling of goods by the employees
  • Failure to deliver goods to the intended destination
  • Environmental damage due to mishandling
  • Faulty climate controls

Warehouse legal liability insurance means that the warehouse provider is responsible for the safe storage of your goods and must provide “reasonable care” to them while in their care. If the warehouse provider does not provide “reasonable care” and their negligence results in the loss or damage of your goods, the warehouse provider’s insurance company will cover your losses and pay you for the goods.

Under this kind of insurance policy, you are still responsible for your goods for any other kind of damage or loss of goods i.e. fires, floods, windstorms, hurricanes, etc.

It’s important to note that with warehouse legal liability insurance, the insurance provider that is covering the policy will only pay your damages if “negligence” is the cause of the loss or damage.

Furthermore, if the warehouse provider offers you a level of care that goes beyond the legal definition of “reasonable care,” the insurance provider will most likely not cover damages in the event of lost or damaged goods.

So, if your warehouse provider is offering added storage benefits or a higher degree of care than what their insurance policy defines as “reasonable”, you need to make sure that your contract specifies who will cover damages in the event the insurance provider declines to cover the costs.

3. Business Interruptions Insurance

Business interruption insurance covers the warehouse in the event of a natural disaster or other business interruption. It pays the warehouse its profits when it is unable to conduct business.

This is a step beyond property insurance as it covers the profits associated with loss of business and not just the costs of repairing the property.

This kind of insurance will only cover the warehouse provider, not the customers who store their goods there.

If the warehouse that you’re storing your goods in is located in an area prone to natural disasters, you could add a provision to your contract that would require the warehouse provider to give you a portion of your losses out of their payment from the insurance provider who underwrites their business interruption insurance. However, this would be a very hard bargain and is unlikely that most (or any) 3PL providers would agree to it.

There is also contingent business interruption insurance, which means that if one of your warehouses cannot operate and you lose profits while it is inoperable, you would be able to file a claim with your insurance provider to cover the losses during that time.

You would need to purchase this outside of any warehouse provider you decide to do business with. Still, it could be incredibly beneficial to you as you expand your business and increasingly rely on third-party logistics providers throughout the country.

4. Transportation Insurance

Much like the warehouse legal liability insurance above, transportation insurance has varied clauses, legal definitions, and limitations regarding when and how much you’ll be reimbursed if your goods are lost or damaged.

Basic transportation insurance specifies that the carrier is responsible for the safe transport of your goods, and their insurance provider will pay you for loss or damage as long as the carrier was negligent during transport.

Again, you’re still responsible for loss or damage due to natural disasters or other circumstances outside of the control of the carrier. When you’re reviewing the contract for responsibility during transport make sure you understand the definition of negligence that the carrier is using.

Another consideration for transportation insurance is whether or not the payment will be made to you based on loss of profits, wholesale price of your goods or price per pound of your products. Depending on how payments are specified, you could be looking at a varied amount of payments.


Understanding Warehouse Insurance for Self-Operated Facilities

When operating your warehouse, you need to consider several types of insurance coverage. These other types of warehouse insurance coverage include:

Commercial Property Insurance

Commercial property insurance protects a business’s physical assets, including the warehouse building and contents. This policy reimburses the property to its current market price. It covers repairing or replacing damaged property and any lost income or extra expenses incurred due to the damage.

This type of insurance safeguards your warehouse structure and everything within it, encompassing elements like storage shelves, cooling systems, forklifts, office furnishings, digital data, and software. It offers protection against financial losses stemming from natural calamities, fire incidents, damages due to fluctuations in humidity or temperature, and instances of theft.

Commercial property insurance is an essential safeguard for any warehouse business. It shields your enterprise and its tangible assets from unforeseen incidents such as severe weather conditions, fires, theft, acts of vandalism, and damages caused by vehicles or aircraft.

This insurance encompasses crucial elements of your business property, including the warehouse structure itself, office machinery, stock, and outdoor items located on the property.

Before purchasing commercial property insurance, it is advisable to take an inventory of your business. This helps you determine what property you want to insure, its replacement value, and whether it’s worth insuring.

The property you might insure could include the building that houses your business, all office equipment, accounting records, important company documents, manufacturing or processing equipment, inventory kept in stock, fence and landscaping, signs, and satellite dishes.

Commercial property insurance policies compensate for damages based on the item’s replacement cost or cash value. The replacement cost refers to the funds required to mend, substitute, or reconstruct property at the same location, using materials of similar quality, without considering depreciation.

On the other hand, the actual cash value is the expense of replacing the property with a new one of similar design and quality after accounting for depreciation.

General Liability Insurance

General liability insurance provides fundamental coverage for businesses by protecting against common risks and liabilities. This type of insurance typically covers third-party bodily injuries, property damage, and personal injury claims. Its benefits include financial protection from legal expenses, medical costs, and damages resulting from accidents on business premises or during business operations.

On the positive side, general liability insurance helps safeguard a business’s reputation and ensures financial stability in the face of unexpected events. However, drawbacks may include potential coverage limitations and the need for additional specialized policies for comprehensive protection.

Understanding this type of insurance is crucial for businesses as it is a foundational layer of protection against various risks. Entrepreneurs should carefully assess their needs and potential liabilities to determine if this insurance type suits their operations.

Employee Dishonesty Insurance

Employee dishonesty insurance, a form of a fidelity bond, is designed to protect businesses from financial losses resulting from fraudulent actions committed by employees. This insurance coverage encompasses various dishonest acts, including theft, embezzlement, or forgery, carried out by employees within the organization.

One of the notable benefits of employee dishonesty insurance is its ability to provide financial reimbursement for losses incurred due to employee misconduct. This can help businesses recover stolen funds or property, maintaining financial stability. This insurance can enhance trust and credibility with clients and stakeholders, showcasing a commitment to safeguarding assets.

However, potential drawbacks, such as coverage limitations and the necessity for strong internal controls, must be recognized. Businesses should implement proper risk management practices, including thorough background checks and internal monitoring, to complement the protective benefits of employee dishonesty insurance.

Worker’s Compensation Insurance

Worker’s compensation insurance is a crucial safeguard for employees and employers, aiming to provide financial protection for work-related injuries or illnesses. This insurance covers medical expenses, rehabilitation costs, and lost wages for employees who suffer injuries or illnesses on the job.

The primary benefit of worker’s compensation insurance is its support for employees by ensuring they receive necessary medical care and compensation for income lost due to work-related incidents. On the other hand, employers benefit from legal immunity against direct lawsuits from injured employees, fostering a more stable work environment.

However, drawbacks may include potential premium costs for employers, which can vary based on the industry’s risk factors and the company’s claims history. Striking a balance between adequate coverage and cost-effectiveness is essential for businesses. Its importance lies in fostering a culture of responsibility and care within the workplace while providing financial support when unforeseen accidents occur.

Amazon Warehouse Insurance

Amazon warehouse insurance, often referred to as Amazon seller insurance, is a specialized coverage tailored for businesses operating within the Amazon ecosystem. This insurance addresses the unique risks and challenges faced by Amazon sellers, providing protection against potential losses.

The benefits of Amazon warehouse insurance are manifold. It typically covers inventory damage, theft, and other perils that may occur during storage or transportation within the Amazon fulfillment network. This ensures that Amazon sellers are financially safeguarded in the event of unforeseen incidents affecting their products.

Despite its advantages, there are some drawbacks to consider. The coverage may have limitations, and it’s crucial for Amazon sellers to thoroughly understand the terms and conditions of the policy. Premium costs can vary based on factors such as the nature of the products, storage conditions, and the seller’s historical performance.

Amazon warehouse insurance offers a tailored solution to mitigate risks associated with the logistics and fulfillment challenges of the Amazon marketplace. Sellers should carefully evaluate their insurance needs, considering the benefits and potential limitations to ensure comprehensive coverage for their business operations.

Commercial Umbrella Insurance

Commercial umbrella insurance provides additional liability coverage beyond the limits of primary business insurance policies. It serves as a financial safety net, offering extra protection when standard policies’ limits, such as general liability or commercial auto insurance, are exhausted.

The key benefit of commercial umbrella insurance lies in its ability to provide extended coverage, ensuring businesses are adequately protected against large-scale liabilities and costly legal claims. This extra layer can be crucial in safeguarding a company’s assets and financial stability.

Potential drawbacks include increased premium costs. While the additional coverage is valuable, it comes at an added expense. Striking the right balance between comprehensive protection and cost-effectiveness is crucial when considering commercial umbrella insurance.

Commercial Auto Insurance

Commercial auto insurance is a specialized coverage designed to protect businesses against the unique risks associated with vehicles used for business purposes. This insurance provides coverage for owned and non-owned vehicles, ensuring financial protection in the event of accidents, property damage, or injuries involving company vehicles.

The primary benefit of  commercial auto insurance is the assurance that business vehicles are adequately covered. It typically includes liability coverage, covering damages and injuries to third parties and physical damage to the company’s vehicles. This ensures that businesses can continue operations with minimal disruption, even in the face of unexpected accidents.

However, there are potential drawbacks to consider. The complexity of claims processing and potential disputes. In the event of an accident or incident, navigating through the claims process may involve detailed investigations, negotiations, and assessments. 

This complexity can lead to settlement delays, and disputes may arise over coverage terms, especially in situations where multiple parties are involved. Businesses should be prepared to invest time and effort in managing claims efficiently to ensure a smoother resolution process.

Cyber Liability Insurance

Cyber Liability Insurance is a specialized coverage designed to protect businesses from the financial fallout of cyber-related incidents. This type of insurance addresses the risks associated with data breaches, hacking, and other cyber threats that can compromise sensitive information.

The benefits of Cyber Liability Insurance are significant. It typically covers costs related to data breaches, including legal expenses, notification costs, and expenses associated with public relations efforts. This coverage is crucial for businesses dealing with sensitive customer information, safeguarding their finances and reputation.

However, businesses should be aware of the potential for coverage gaps and exclusions. Policies may have specific limitations on the types of cyber incidents covered or exclude certain scenarios altogether. Businesses must carefully review policy terms to ensure they understand the extent of coverage and any exclusions that may apply.

In some cases, inadequate coverage may leave businesses vulnerable to certain cyber threats, emphasizing the importance of thoroughly understanding policy details and potential limitations.

Inland Marine Insurance

Inland marine insurance is a specialized form of coverage designed to protect property that is in transit or not fixed at a specific location. Despite its name, it doesn’t solely pertain to marine-related risks but extends to cover various types of movable property, including equipment, tools, and goods in transit.

One key benefit of inland marine insurance is its flexibility. It provides protection for property that isn’t covered by standard property insurance, especially when the items are frequently on the move. This can be crucial for businesses involved in shipping transportation or those with valuable equipment used off-site.

On potential drawbacks, since this type of insurance covers a diverse range of movable property, it may be challenging to accurately assess the value of their assets and the potential risks associated with their transportation or temporary storage.

This complexity can lead to difficulties in setting appropriate coverage limits, potentially leaving gaps in protection or resulting in higher premium costs. Businesses should invest time thoroughly evaluating their movable assets and working closely with insurers to ensure they have the right coverage for their specific needs.


How Do Insurance Companies Value Warehouse Inventory Losses?

The value of warehouse inventory losses is determined by the replacement cost method. It calculates the cost of replacing the lost items with new ones of the same or similar kind and quality. This method considers the cost of materials, labor, and other expenses necessary to replace the lost inventory.

The replacement cost ensures the business can replace the lost items with new ones without incurring additional costs. This method also ensures that the insurance company pays the firm fairly and accurately for the losses.

It’s important to note that each insurance company may have specific policy terms and conditions. Therefore, businesses must carefully review their insurance policies and understand the terms and conditions related to warehouse inventory losses.

How Much Does Warehouse Insurance Cost?

The expense associated with insuring a warehouse can fluctuate greatly, contingent on the nature of the warehouse and its specific use. For instance, a warehouse storing hazardous or explosive substances would necessitate a higher insurance level than one that houses non-hazardous goods. Similarly, a warehouse maintaining a substantial quantity of refrigerated or frozen compartments for food storage may require a more comprehensive insurance plan than a warehouse for storing construction materials.

Warehouse legal liability insurance is designed to protect the commodities stored within a warehouse. In contrast, general liability insurance offers a more extensive scope of coverage, encompassing risks such as injuries to third parties, copyright infringement, and legal defense expenses. However, it’s important to note that general liability insurance doesn’t offer complete protection against all potential risk factors.

Which Warehouse Insurance Covers Theft and Natural Disasters?

Commercial property insurance typically covers losses caused by theft or natural disasters. However, it’s important to read the policy carefully, as exclusions or limitations may exist. Warehouse insurance that covers theft and natural disasters typically falls under the category of property insurance. This type of insurance is designed to protect businesses and their assets from various risks, including theft, vandalism, fire, floods, and other natural disasters. It provides financial support to cover repairing or replacing damaged or stolen goods, helping businesses recover from unexpected losses.

When selecting warehouse insurance, businesses must carefully review policy terms to ensure that theft and natural disasters are explicitly covered. Some policies may have specific limitations or exclusions, so understanding the extent of coverage is essential for making better decisions.

What is Meant by Warehouse Stock Insurance and Inventory Insurance?

Warehouse stock insurance and inventory insurance are crucial to cover your warehouse contents. These types of insurance cover replacing your stock or inventory if it’s damaged or destroyed due to a covered event. To clarify, the policy for warehouse insurance typically includes various coverages, and the specific coverage for contents is not referred to as “content insurance.” Instead, it is encompassed within the other ranges outlined in the policy.

Whether you operate your warehouse or use a 3PL warehouse, having the right insurance coverage is crucial to protect your business from potential financial losses. It’s always better to be safe than sorry. Warehouse insurance is a necessity.


How to Mitigate Risk When Working With a 3PL?

Let’s look at ways to mitigate risks when working with a 3PL.

  • Choose a 3PL wisely – Companies must start by researching and evaluating potential providers based on their industry experience, track record, and customer reviews. You should define specific requirements and expectations for the 3PL provider, such as the types of products and the frequency of shipments. Clearly understanding their needs allows companies to can select a 3PL provider best equipped to meet those needs.
  • Write specific concerns into your agreement/contract with the 3PL -You should have a solid 3PL warehouse agreement/contract to minimize inventory loss, including particular inventory management procedures, loss prevention, and liability provisions. Additionally, the contract should specify the level of liability that the 3PL provider will assume in case of inventory loss or damage.
  • Invest in your insurance policies – While the 3PL provider may have insurance coverage, more is needed to cover the total value of a company’s inventory. Companies must consider taking comprehensive insurance policies to protect the goods and ensure adequate coverage in case of any issues. This gives you peace of mind and minimizes the risk of financial loss in case of any problems.

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Final Thoughts on Warehousing Insurance

These examples are some of the most common kinds of insurance required when running your warehouse or using a 3PL warehouse. Based on your specific business needs or products being stored & transported, these may be insufficient for your needs. It’s always best to consult a professional or a lawyer when drafting or signing contracts that could impact your business’s bottom line.

Insurance for warehouse storage is a critical component of risk management for businesses that operate warehouses or storage facilities. Investing in it provides financial protection in the event of unexpected losses, ensuring the long-term success of your business. Companies must purchase warehouse insurance coverage to avoid suffering losses.

If you have any questions about insurance or any other aspect of warehousing or 3PL warehousing or transportation, feel free to contact us.

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