Deviation. Under the Marine Insurance Act, if a ship, without lawful excuse, deviates from the voyage contemplated by the policy, the insurer is discharged from liability from the time of deviation, and it is immaterial that the ship may have regained her route before any loss occurs.
There is deviation from the voyage contemplated by the policy where the course of the voyage is specifically designated by the policy and that course is departed from; or where the course of the voyage is not specifically designated by the policy, but the usual and customary course is departed from. The intention to deviate is immaterial: there must be a deviation in fact to discharge the insurer from his liability under the contract (section 46).
Section 47 provides:
“(1) Where several ports of discharge are specified by the policy, the ship may proceed to all or any of them, but in the absence of any usage or sufficient cause to the contrary, she must proceed to them or such of them as she goes to, in the order designated by the policy. If she does not, there is a deviation.
(2) Where the policy is to ‘ports of discharge’, within a given area, which are not named, the ship must, in the absence of any usage or sufficient cause to the contrary, proceed to them or such of them as she goes to, in their geographical order. If she does not there is a deviation.”
Section 49 of the Act excuses deviations as follows:
“(1) Deviation or delay in prosecuting the voyage contemplated by the policy is excused:
(a) Where authorised by any special term in the policy; or
(b) Where caused by the circumstances beyond the control of the master and his employer; or
(c) Where reasonably necessary in order to comply with an express or implied warranty; or
(d) Where reasonably necessary for the safety of the ship or subject-matter insured; or
(e) For the purpose of saving human life, or aiding a ship in distress where human life may be in danger; or
(f) Where reasonably necessary for the purpose of obtaining medical or surgical aid for any person on board the ship, or
(g) Where caused by the barratrous conduct of the master or crew, if barratry be one of the perils insured against.
(2) When the cause excusing the deviation or delay ceases to operate, the ship must resume her course, and prosecute her voyage, with reasonable despatch.”
It should be noted that when there is “change of voyage” there is no intention to return to the original route but with deviation there may be.
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