Preparing the 2020 Incoterms©

By Jean-Paul Thomas, Transport Insurance Manager, Fédération Française de l'assurance, IUMI Member Association, and IUMI Liaison Officer to the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC)

Incoterms (International Commercial TERMS) were created in 1936 by the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), with the aim of harmonising disparate commercial terms used in the sales of goods.

Recognised in most countries, Incoterms are optional. However, they acquire a contractual value when the parties choose to expressly refer to them. Therefore, when they are mentioned in a sales contract, these terms define the buyer's and the seller's respective obligations on several points: licenses, authorisations, security clearance and other formalities, delivery, transfer of risks, allocation of costs, delivery document, inspection of goods, packaging, marking, etc.

Incoterms are regularly amended to take into account the ongoing evolutions in transport, international regulations and commercial practices. At the end of 2016, the ICC (headquartered in Paris), its various national committees and an international drafting group began working on a modification of the 2010 Incoterms© as used today.

This work is carried out in conjunction with a number of stakeholders, including IUMI who has already provided the ICC with remarks pertaining to explanatory comments (for example, on the notion of insurable interest and on the importance of taking into account local insurance obligations); as well as a suggestion on the nature of the cargo insurance required under CIP and CIF terms[1]. These two terms stipulate that the seller must take out a minimum guarantee (similar to Clauses C of the Institute Cargo Clauses - LMA / IUA), whereas in many cases it might be more appropriate to provide for an extended cover (similar to Clauses A of the Institute Cargo Clauses - LMA / IUA).


[1] CIP « Carriage and Insurance Paid to... named place of destination » (designed for multimodal transport)  and CIF « Cost, Insurance, Freight... named port of destination » (to be used only for sea or waterway transport). Of eleven Incoterms, these two terms are the only ones to mention expressly an obligation for insurance.