Concept of Free on Board
The concept of "Free on Board" or "freight on board" pertains to marine insurance and signifies that the responsibility of the seller extends until all goods have been successfully placed on the designated vessel as stipulated by the buyer. Essentially, it involves delivering goods at the seller's expense to a specified destination, as determined by the buyer.
In the context of marine insurance, the term "free" signifies that the seller bears the obligation of ensuring the successful delivery of goods to a designated location for transfer to the carrier.
Particularly within international shipments covered by marine insurance, contractual agreements involving international transportation often incorporate trade terms that delineate specifics such as the time and place of delivery, the point at which the buyer assumes liability from the seller, the party responsible for the cost of marine insurance and freight, and more.
For example, if Mr. X ships goods to Mr. Z under an FOB arrangement, Mr. Z is tasked with arranging insurance coverage for Mr. X. In the event of any loss during transit, Mr. Z would receive compensation from the insurance provider.
FOB is of particular importance to entities engaged in global business activities. It is especially relevant in contracts that involve valuable items susceptible to theft or loss. The critical aspect of FOB is its role in determining which party retains ownership of the goods while they are still in transit. Should the goods be lost or damaged, the marine insurance company of the owner would step in.
Different variations of FOB terms exist, and it is essential to understand them. In the case of FOB destination, the seller remains responsible until the buyer takes possession of the goods. Conversely, if the marine insurance specifically employs FOB origin, the buyer assumes ownership from the moment the goods originate. This makes the buyer accountable for freight and potential damages.
Clear comprehension of the specific FOB terms is crucial for all parties involved to determine responsibilities in unforeseen circumstances.
Example Scenario 1: Consider a scenario in which a pepper dealer purchases 20,000 tons of pepper from Company ABC in India, intending to sell the goods at a store in London. The purchase contract specifies "FOB destination, London, XYZ warehouse."
This indicates that Company ABC covers the expenses of loading and shipping the 20,000 tons from its Indian facility to the XYZ warehouse in London. The pepper becomes the dealer's property upon arrival in London. Consequently, if any loss occurs to the goods while they are in transit such as being lost, destroyed, or stolen Company ABC would still be accountable, as it retains ownership during transit.
In instances where the goods sustain damage or theft after reaching the XYZ warehouse, the responsibility falls on the buyer.
Example Scenario 2: Imagine Rajesh, a machinery seller based in Delhi, India, who previously entered into an agreement with a buyer located in New York. As per the agreement, Rajesh is obligated to provide goods to the buyer under FOB terms. Here, Rajesh covers all expenses related to transporting the goods to the Delhi port. The seller also handles customs clearance expenses in Mumbai to facilitate the goods' transportation via airlines or ships.
Importantly, the buyer assumes subsequent costs upon the goods' arrival at their destination. The buyer selects the shipping company or airline, and the seller arranges the shipment accordingly. The buyer bears the cost of freight to the shipping company or airline and takes steps to insure the consignment, covering the insurance expenses.
In summary, the concept of "Free on Board" (FOB) in marine insurance policies entails the seller's responsibility for goods until they are successfully placed on the designated vessel. This concept plays a pivotal role in international trade contracts and the determination of ownership and liability during transit.