Perils of the Sea

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Winslow Homer's painting, Perils of the Sea

Perils of the Sea is a maritime and insurance term for "those causes of loss for which the carrier is not legally liable; the elemental risks of ocean transport."[1] The English Marine Insurance Act (MIA) restricts the term to only "fortuitous accidents and casualties exclusive of the ordinary winds and waves"[2] The judgement of Lord Bramwell in Thames and Mersey Insurance Co. v Hamilton, Fraser & Co. decrees that the phrase covers "every accidental circumstances not the result of ordinary wear and tear, delay, or of the act of the assured, happening in the course of the navigation of the ship, and incidental to the navigation, and causing loss to the subject-matter of the insurance."[3] These would include storms, waves, and wind; collision; grounding; fire, smoke and noxious fumes; flooding, sinking and capsizing; loss of propulsion or steering; and any other hazards resulting from the unique environment of the sea. War perils, "pirates, rovers, thieves, captures, seizures, restraints, and detainments of princes and peoples, jettisons and barratry" are also regarded as perils of the sea. It is generally held that it does not include the ordinary action of the winds and waves.[4]

Popular culture

  • Perils of the Sea is the title of an etching and a painting by American artist Winslow Homer (1836-1910).[5]
  • "S.O.S. Perils of the Sea" is also the title of a 1925 movie (Dir: James P. Hogan)[6]


  1. U.S. Department of Transportation Maritime Administration Glossary
  2. Rules of Construction of the English Marine Insurance Act (1906) Rule 7
  3. (1887) 12 App. Cas. 484
  4. What is a policy of marine insurance? Gibbs v MMI (2003)The University of Queensland, Australia Accessed July 12, 2007
  5. The Metropolitan Museum of Art The Mezzanine Gallery Accessed July 12, 2007
  6. SOS Perils of the Sea IMDb Accessed July 12, 2007