Baltimore Bridge Collapse – A Breakdown of the Losses

Marine crews rely on the ship owners, a series of organizations and multiple inspection points to ensure the ship is safe to sail. So what caused the collapse of the Baltimore Key Bridge? In this blog we will discuss everything known 3 weeks post-tragedy and the incoming flood of insurance claims.

By Carla Rodriguez | Apr. 19, 2024 | 5 min. read

It has been almost four weeks Since the Baltimore Key bridge collapsed at the impact of the Dali – a Singapore-owned vessel. The tragic incident on this historic bridge claimed 6 lives, 2 of which have not been found yet.


What Caused the Collapse?

Many experts and insurers are asking the inevitable question of what went wrong.

Was it a navigational error, was it a loss of power, the pilot’s fault?

There is a clear video of when the vessel hit the pillar and the bridge collapsed. When asked about what the moments leading up to the crash inside the 984-foot container ship, Sal Mercogliano, a Campbell University professor and Marine historian says,

Although everything happened in under 5 minutes, it’s like a slow-motion accident taking place.


Marine crews rely on the ships, companies, and all series of organizations that ensure the ship is safe to sail through inspections and checkpoints. The pilots are then informed it is safe for them to operate the vessel. There are many touchpoints where something could’ve been missed that led to the ship losing power. There is also nothing anyone could’ve done to foresee this would have happened.

The pilot alerted everyone involved and tried to stop the vessel with the anchor but once you lose power of a 100,000-ton vessel moving at 10 miles an hour – there is little you can do. The weight and dimension of a ship this size are simply too much for an anchor to stop it.


Baltimore Bridge Collapse – A Breakdown of the Losses

It is safe to assume the ship owner is perfectly covered by his P&I Insurance. Grace Ocean Private is likely a member of one of the many International group clubs that provide a safe haven to owners since it’s all covered in an accident like this one.

To put things into perspective, The biggest recent claim of this magnitude was Concordia which wrecked off the coast of Giglio island, and at a 1.5 billion loss it is expected the Baltimore tragedy will significantly surpass this number. Similarly, the Brillante Virtuoso was one of the most notable maritime fraud investigations where the owner attempted to claim insurance for $77 million. Read more about the criminal charges faced by Marios lliopoulos.

According to John Miklus, president of the American Institute of Marine Underwriters ( AIMU), there will be years of litigation and claim activity regarding all components of loss.

This is why President Biden has said the federal states will pay for the bridge’s rebuilding to prevent a delay that could take years of litigation to recover payment from the ship owner. This case will subrogated and eventually be paid out.

Bridge Collapse Losses

  • Loss of tolls
  • Significant supply chain implications
  • Damage to the vessel
  • Lost income to the port
  • 10 commercial ships stuck in port
  • Lost income to the Dali

“Although we view the collapse of the Francis Scott Key Bridge as a major marine loss, we anticipate that global reinsurers will be able to manage a loss of this magnitude,” S&P said.

The integrity of the bridge:

This bridge was built during a time when a ship the size of the Dali was unheard of. Fast forward to 2024, the Dali is only considered a medium-sized vessel. Experts are urging governments to take a closer look at the safety features of our bridges and other maritime structures.


Claims Cost of the Baltimore Bridge Collapse

Seems the only people making money from this will be lawyers. Who are the people we can expect to come forward as claimants following the collapse?

  • Families of deceased workers and seriously injured workers
  • The federal government and the state of Maryland will be going after the owner for the full cost of reconstruction
  • Crushed containers will be seeking recovery from their cargo insurers they will subrogate it against the ship.
  • Remaining cargo owners because those containers are going to stay on that ship for some time
  • Consequential losses –the cost of clearing everything up, loss of business profits


One news reporter asked; “Is it reasonable to expect one ship insurer to bear all those costs? Even if it ripples out through the reinsurance market?”

Experts says it is. Instances like this are why the 35 international P&I Clubs exist and they place the largest reinsurance contract with Lloyds. This incident although a tragedy – is not out of the scope of possibility. Risk managers have assumed something like this would happen and have foreseen the need for a significant amount of insurance. While the collapse of the Baltimore Bridge will likely result in a $3 Billion loss, insurers weren’t caught off guard. Ultimately this is a pretty new ship with only a minor impairment in the past that was promptly fixed.


The Collapse of the Baltimore Bridge

The new bridge would cost at least $400 million. Wrongful death cases of workers who lost their lives could cost up to $100 million. Significant damage to the ship could cost another couple hundred million. Terminal operators and exporters/importers who are subsequently out of business until the channel is clear could face losses of up to a billion dollars.

Curious about maritime fraud? Read more here.  Look out for new webinars about the world of transportation and maritime claims on our continuing education page. Fuel your knowledge of the insurance industry with relevant, fresh topics.

Related Articles

Dive deeper into the world of risk management and investigative insights with our curated selection of related articles.