In what circumstances might an actual total loss be declared?

When, for example, (1) a ship or cargo is totally destroyed by fire; (2) when a ship or cargo is sunk in water so deep that it would be technically impossible to recover the property.

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If an insured loss occurs before a Lloyd’s policy document has been drawn up and signed, are the underwriters liable to pay a claim?

In what circumstances might a constructive total loss be declared?