The total insurance cost of claims from the stricken cargo ship beached off the coast of Devon, remains unclear this week, but cargo costs could top more than £300m, according to experts.

Insurance costs are likely to include loss and damage to cargo, general average and salvage charges, as well as potential environmental liabilities as a result of pollution caused by the accident.

To date, up to 200 tonnes of oil in a ruptured fuel tank has leaked from the 900ft MSC Napoli, with about 200 of its 2,323 containers going overboard. Each container is estimated to be worth on average £150,000.

One industry source, said: "It is a loss very early on in the year that will hopefully focus the minds of marine underwriters."

However, the impact on both the insurance industry and the insured will be minimised due to the emergency response to MSC Napoli's grounding, it has been claimed.

The ship was deliberately beached by dedicated salvage tugs in the English Channel in an attempt to contain the casualty and minimise the environmental impact.

Eamon Moloney, head of admiralty law at law firm Eversheds, told Insurance Times: "It may be that the immediate effects of the beaching will bear heavily on certain interests and some people may feel aggrieved that the problem has been put on their doorstep.

"However, for the UK, Europe and for the shipping and marine insurance industries, the prospect of seeing firm, clear control for the common good is a great benefit and a good omen for the future."