As the improvement, and potential mass manufacturing, of COVID-19 (C-19) vaccines collect pace, the transportation and logistics business might want to flip its consideration to how the product could be safely and effectively distributed. Recent figures from the International Air Transport Association (IATA) recommend that the equal of 8,000 Boeing 747s will likely be wanted so as to ship the billions of doses required to vaccinate the international inhabitants.

While the aviation business is already placing plans in place for the vaccine’s distribution, the insurance coverage business should now become familiar with the distinctive dangers which may be created by the aviation sector endeavor one in all the biggest logistics operations in human historical past.

Pharma – A Problematic Cargo

The pharmaceutical business depends on air transport for its pace, reliability and effectivity in delivering high-value, time-sensitive, temperature-controlled cargo. Air carriers, freight forwarders, floor handlers and airports are confronted with many challenges attributable to the complicated processes and specialised (or lack of) tools wanted, the inadequate information (or experience) of particular person stakeholders, and insufficient infrastructure.

Ultimately, the industrial success of any explicit vaccine program might not be judged on how profitable it’s at treating COVID-19 however fairly on how simple it’s to provide and distribute!

Pre-C-19 the bulk of the world’s pharmaceutical merchandise have been carried by a handful of enormous and skilled carriers with specialist pharma companies at purpose-built cargo hubs. Given the scale of the operation to maneuver the vaccine, virtually the entirety of the international fleet will likely be concerned in some capability, which means carriers and floor handlers will likely be utilized, who might not have expertise in dealing with temperature-sensitive shipments.

As extra data is revealed in relation to the efficacy and success of the numerous vaccines in manufacturing, the logistics provide chain will be capable of begin planning for numerous merchandise and situations. As an instance, it has been revealed that the Pfizer vaccine should be saved at round -70° C (-94° F) whereas the Moderna vaccine might stay steady at fridge temperatures of between 2 and eight°C for 30 days. Ultimately, the industrial success of any explicit vaccine program might not be judged on how profitable it’s at treating COVID-19 however fairly on how simple it’s to provide and distribute!

Legal and Insurance Issues

Under the Montreal Convention 1999 (MC99) – which governs a provider’s legal responsibility for worldwide carriage – harm to cargo is restricted to 22 Special Drawing Rights (“SDRs”) (approx. USD30) per kilogram. The particular concern in relation to pharmaceutical merchandise is that they’re light-weight however excessive in worth. This signifies that a cargo of vaccines can usually have a very excessive precise worth, but the restrict of legal responsibility underneath MC99 may be very low in financial phrases. This is to the carriers’ (and equally insurers’) profit in most circumstances. While the pricing of the C-19 vaccine remains to be to be decided, the present figures quoted recommend that the limits of legal responsibility which may be relevant to a C-19 vaccine cargo are prone to be considerably decrease than the precise worth.

For excessive worth shipments, the shipper or consignee (usually often called the “cargo interests”) often has to just accept the restrict of legal responsibility and bear the monetary danger itself, which it can usually offset by buying its personal insurance coverage. A lesser-used choice accessible underneath MC99 (Article 22.3) permits cargo pursuits to request that the airline settle for a Special Declaration of Value (SDV) (i.e. a increased restrict of legal responsibility). If the airline chooses to just accept the SDV (it isn’t obliged to however might accomplish that for a further cost) this can have the impact of accelerating or fully eradicating the restrict of legal responsibility for that cargo. The airline would then be required to pay as much as the full bill worth of the cargo to the cargo pursuits if subsequently discovered liable for harm to the cargo to which the SDV attaches.

While the pricing of the C-19 vaccine remains to be to be decided, the present figures quoted recommend that the limits of legal responsibility which may be relevant to a C-19 vaccine cargo are prone to be considerably decrease than the precise worth.

Accepting an SDV could also be commercially expedient for the provider, however the determination should be taken along side insurers as a result of a typical airline insurance coverage coverage might not cowl third occasion claims that are greater than the airline is legally liable to pay underneath the related legal guidelines (i.e. arguably not more than the MC99 restrict of legal responsibility). This place could be altered both underneath the airline coverage itself by the use of a particular provision, or it may be overcome if the airline notifies its insurers of the materials change in danger (i.e. the SDV), often earlier than carriage begins. The latter choice is usually solely carried out on an ad-hoc, shipment-by-shipment foundation, and for notably particular and or delicate items of cargo. One-off notifications in the context of the C-19 vaccine would pose a important burden on the airline, its insurance coverage dealer and their insurers. General ‘umbrella’ sort notifications (i.e. overlaying a number of shipments or a class/sort of cargo) are not often given by airways and much more not often accepted by the insurance coverage market.

Insurers of floor handlers, cargo terminal operators and airports may additionally want to think about fastidiously reviewing the contractual preparations/service degree agreements that these entities have in place with airways (and with one another) to evaluate whether or not uplifted legal responsibility provisions exist which can, unbeknownst to insurers, trigger their Insureds to be liable to the airline or the cargo pursuits for the full cargo worth. In the occasion that the distribution of the C-19 vaccine leads to a rise in claims, insurers might be left with important exposures.

A evaluate of the phrases agreed between the events in relation to the claims protocol in the occasion of delay, loss or destruction of a cargo also needs to be thought of. Adopting an strategy which locations a important evidential burden on would-be claimants ought to, in idea, present some consolation to airways and its insurers.

Changing Risk Profile for Insurance?

While some governments are prone to step in to underwrite the dangers inherent in carrying the vaccine, many governments – whose budgets are already stretched attributable to C-19 bailouts – might not be capable of lengthen this luxurious to the airline group. It can be probably that sure personal entities and firms will buy the vaccine so as to vaccinate their staff previous to the remainder of the normal inhabitants and won’t, subsequently, be supplied with any type of authorities assist or safety.

Insurers and brokers might want to evaluate current insurance coverage provisions underneath airline All Risks insurance policies to make sure that the airline is afforded enough safety in circumstances the place excessive valued shipments are being carried, noting the potential publicity to SDVs.

In order to cater for the new and distinctive exposures posed by a international vaccine cargo operation, the insurance coverage market might have to contemplate how they reply, whether or not via amendments to current protection, or the introduction of recent insurance coverage merchandise solely. We have seen this in the aftermath of many different main occasions over the previous few a long time which demonstrated the insurance coverage group’s skill to adapt to the ever-changing danger profile of the aviation business (i.e. TRIA, AVN52).

HFW is a main international legislation agency in the aerospace, commodities, building, power and sources, insurance coverage, and delivery sectors. The agency has greater than 600 attorneys, together with 185 companions, primarily based in workplaces throughout the Americas, Europe, the Middle East and Asia-Pacific. This article is republished with permission from HFW (

About James Jordan

James Jordan is a Senior Associate in HFW’s market main aviation workforce with over 10 years’ expertise tackling complicated authorized points in the aerospace, transport, logistics, and insurance coverage industries. He is a devoted advisor to the airline, normal, and enterprise aviation sectors and offers recommendation throughout numerous jurisdictions referring to industrial litigation, regulatory points, and the drafting/evaluate of economic contracts. He has dealt with a few of the area’s largest aviation accidents in recent times for each operators and their insurers. He has lately led the HFW aviation workforce’s efforts in responding to the affect of COVID-19. He can be creating a follow which focuses on rising applied sciences and their utility to the aerospace sector. Jordan is admitted to follow in England & Wales, Hong Kong, and the Republic of Ireland. He has in-house expertise gained via company secondments at AIG in addition to at the insurance coverage dealer Willis. He could be reached at

About Paul Woodley

Paul Woodley is a Partner in HFW’s Aerospace Team primarily based in London. He has important airline main loss expertise in a number of jurisdictions, together with international provider accidents located in Europe and, extra lately, in the United States. Woodley advises insurers in relation to protection disputes with Insureds domiciled all through the world utilising his insurance coverage business background and Chartered Institute insurance coverage {qualifications}. Woodley stays focussed on creating a follow in rising dangers inside the aviation business, together with the improvement of a UAV follow in response to each dealer and insurer lead calls for. He has intensive expertise in dealing with main normal aviation accidents in Asia, and the UK, while additionally coping with complicated sports activities legal responsibility aviation associated claims throughout Europe. Prior to changing into a solicitor, Woodley labored as an Aviation Lloyd’s Placing Broker at Aon Limited and extra lately as an in-house Senior Complex Claims for main insurer purchasers in London. He could be reached at