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Marine insurance exception to the Insurance Contracts Act

David McLure SC and Gary Coveny recently appeared for London underwriters in an important case considering the marine insurance exception to the application of the Insurance Contracts Act 1984 (Cth): DMS Maritime Pty Limited v Navigators Corporate Underwriters Limited [2020] QSC 382.

DMS had a contract with the Commonwealth to maintain the Navy’s patrol boats.  One of the boats, HMAS Bundaberg, was destroyed by fire while undergoing maintenance in a dry dock.  DMS made a claim under its insurance.  Underwriters contend they are entitled to avoid the policy on the basis of pre-contractual non-disclosure.  The question was whether the non-disclosure regime under the Insurance Contracts Act or the Marine Insurance Act 1909 (Cth) should apply.

Justice Bond held that the policy should be characterised as one of marine insurance, because underwriters undertook to indemnify DMS against losses which must be regarded as substantially incident to marine adventure.  His Honour’s judgment provides important guidance on the operation of s 9(1A) of the Insurance Contracts Act, which permits disaggregation of provisions in a bundled contract of insurance.

A link to the judgment can be found here: DMS Maritime Pty Limited v Navigators Corporate Underwriters Limited [2020] QSC 382.

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