The Titanic Submarine Catastrophe Creates Issues With Insurance Plans

The lost Titanic submarine has dominated the world’s news for the previous few days. The missing submarine has also generated a lot of discussion on social media platforms.
If insurance claims could be made if the passengers of the submarine were not located was one of the intriguing topics that seemed to be popular.

For the purposes of this piece, the incident will be recounted as though it happened locally in South Africa.

Ordering The Assumption Of death

Any interested person, such as a family member, coworker, or romantic partner, may submit an application to have a missing submarine passenger deemed dead. An ex parte proceeding is used to bring the application.

Presumption of death orders are uncommon in the absence of a catastrophic occurrence. However, they are a useful instrument to use in catastrophic situations because there are almost indisputable reasons to support the order being granted.

Due to the lack of an actual body, the court is only allowed to consider circumstantial evidence when rendering a conclusion. As a result, the applicant will need to explain in his or her foundational affidavit why the court should issue the order for the presumption of death.

The courts have emphasised over the years that each case’s unique facts and circumstances must be taken into account when determining its decision. In the past, the courts have consistently concluded that for such an order to be issued, the missing individual must have been gone for at least seven years. The situation has changed.

The amount of time that has passed after the disappearance is a crucial consideration, although the courts no longer place a specific number of months or years in this context.

Along with the length of the missing person’s disappearance, other factors are taken into account, including the health of the missing person at the time of their disappearance, the location where they were last seen, the existence of any life-threatening events in the area where they were last seen, their way of life and habits, etc.

The facts and circumstances surrounding the missing submarine are much less complicated in this instance because we know the identities of the passengers, the circumstances surrounding their disappearance, how risky those circumstances were, and how unlikely it is that they will survive.

These elements would be very important in determining the application, in addition to other elements that might apply. It is significant to remember that just though a judge has approved this decision, it does not automatically guarantee that an insurance policy would react.

The insurance may still reject the claim on other “normal” reasons, such as misrepresentation, non-disclosure, etc., even if the insurer does not object to the presumption of death ruling. What’s more intriguing is that certain non-indemnity insurance policies explicitly restrict coverage for fatalities brought on by risky behaviours.


In conclusion, even though presumption of death orders are uncommon, they continue to be a crucial tool in cases where a person is missing. The passing of a person is an important occurrence in law (and in life) with several legal repercussions.

In order to give the missing person’s affairs some legal certainty, one should not be reluctant to file such an application when there are good reasons to.