Operation of ships may involve numerous risks. As the damage caused by an incident may exceed the financial resources of those responsible, compulsory insurance for certain risks has been introduced by legislation based on international and European Instruments.

Currently, compulsory insurance exists for damage caused by oil pollution, by bunker oil as well as by oil carried in bulk as cargo, and for the carriage of passengers by sea. Compulsory insurance for carriage of hazardous and noxious substances under the HNS Convention will be introduced in the future.

A certificate, attesting that the relevant insurance or other financial security is in force, must be carried on board and can be applied for at the Federal Maritime and Hydrographic Agency (Bundesamt für Seeschifffahrt und Hydrographie - BSH).