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Weekly COVID-19 Update: Everything vessels, vehicles and gear

During these unprecedented times we're giving you weekly updates on how COVID-19 is impacting everything to do with vessels, vehicles, and gear. 


In this weeks edition we outline:

  • NTI’s involvement with associations and government to support transport operators
  • The successful campaign to keep rest stops and service centres open for truck drivers
  • IUMI’s update on how COVID-19 is impacting global freight and shipping
  • The Federal Government’s International Freight Assistance Mechanism
  • The NSW Government’s new rules for construction sites


Marine and Cargo

  • Last Wednesday, the Federal Government announced the $110 million International Freight Assistance Mechanism.  The package will support Australia’s agriculture and fisheries sectors by helping them deliver exports, particularly premium produce, into overseas markets via air freight with return flights bringing back medical supplies, medicines and more. 80% of Australia’s air freight is normally carried in the cargo hold of commercial passenger flights, so these industries desperately need support until normal commercial operations restart.  Find out more.  
  • The International Union of Marine Insurance (IUMI) gave an update on the on how the world shipping, cargo, and marine insurance industries are being affected.  It is available as a webinar on demand. Some highlights:
    • 5% of the world shipping fleet is currently inactive due to lack of trade, however only 1.9% of dry bulk vessels (carrying coal, iron ore etc.) are inactive.
    • Many countries are experiencing accumulation issues as shipping containers are left for storage at ports.
    • VLCCs (Very Large Crude Carrier) are being increasingly used for the storage of crude oils, due to current oil prices.  These are being chartered at around US$241,000 per day, and hold approximately 2 million barrels of oil.
  • Wine Australia has released information on the impact of COVID-19 on Australia’s three largest wine export partners: China, United States of America, and United Kingdom.  While alcohol sales in the US and UK are expected to continue to decline, there are positive signs for China as it starts to emerge from lockdown.  Find out more here.


  • Our Chief Sustainability Officer, Chris Hogarty, represented NTI at the Australian Government’s Land Transport Industry Meeting. NTI was the only insurer invited to be involved in these discussions.  A number of key issues were discussed, including:
    • The importance of maintaining open borders for transport and the need for better communication of requirements and possible delays for operators when crossing borders.
    • The removal of curfews restricting movements of heavy vehicles to ensure supermarkets can be restocked more frequently.
    • The use of government tax incentives, such as instant asset write-off by the transport industry.

Our General Manager – Commercial, Mike Edmonds, also attended the Australian Trucking Association Council Meeting to discuss COVID-19 and what is needed to keep Australia moving.

NTI will continue working with our partners within this group to advocate for the needs of transport operators as government restrictions continue.

  • Last Tuesday the National Cabinet announced exemptions allowing truck stops and service centres to remain open to heavy vehicle drivers. Many of these facilities had already closed shower and rest facilities which were escalating fatigue and safety issues for drivers still required to take mandatory rest breaks.  As a result, our friends at the Australian Trucking Association (ATA) and Big Rigs magazine have launched the Keep Them Open campaign which is highlighting rest stops and service centres that are supporting transport operators during this time.
  • Kenworth, Volvo and Iveco truck plants in Australia have closed for short time to evaluate and introduce further hygiene measures and social distancing on manufacturing lines.  Other functions of their business are continuing to work from home and half on/half off arrangements.  For overseas manufacturers:
    • Daimler (Freightliner and Western Star) in the US have reduced their output
    • Dennis Eagle in the UK is shut
    • MAN in Germany is shutting down
    • Isuzu and Hino in Japan are continuing production

Australian distribution arms of the overseas manufacturers are continuing to operate with work from home arrangements.

  • We are working with our partners at a national level, such as Heavy Vehicle Industry Australia (HVIA), Australian Trucking Association (ATA), Australian Livestock & Rural Transport Assertions (ALRTA)  and also with state-based associations like the Queensland Trucking Association (QTA) and Victorian Transport Association (VTA) to support their initiatives including:
    • Ensuring breakdown and repair services are recognized as essential services in keeping freight moving
    • Finding new work placements for drivers affected by loss of contracts or downsizing.  We will keep you posted as this progresses.

Construction and Equipment

  • The NSW Government has introduced new rules allowing construction sites to operate on weekends and public holidays. The rules aim to facilitate social distancing requirements without impacting construction timeframes with work to be spread over more days with fewer trades on site at any one time.
  • The Civil Contractor’s Federation (CCF) is calling on the Federal Government to bring forward infrastructure projects, simplify procurement processes, and spread work to as many businesses as possible, to help ensure the civil infrastructure sector survives.  Over 1.1 million Australians are employed in civil infrastructure.  Read their statement here.

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