Marine Surveyor FAQs

What is a marine surveyor:?

A boat inspector. The most common type of job we do is similar to a home inspector and appraiser combined into one for a boat or a yacht.

What does Christian & Company do?

We basically have two products.

1) We perform “condition and valuation” marine inspections on boats and yachts. These inspections are performed in order to determine “what shape she is in” and “what she is worth”. We inspect the boat, we test virtually every system and component and we encourage sea trials as well. We usually have the boats hauled to allow an inspection of the bottom.

2) We handle insurance claims in San Diego for insurance companies. These insurance inspections determine the cause of loss, identify the scope of damage and review costs.

We also do various special projects, new build monitoring, consultation and litigation support work.

When is a marine surveyor needed?

Our professional boat surveyors in San Diego are typically employed when a boat is purchased (by the buyer), when a boat is refinanced and when an insurance policy is up for renewal. Marine inspections and surveys are also the basis for valuation of a boat as an asset for a multitude of reasons – probate, divorce, etc…

How do you choose a marine surveyor?

Our web site has an article on this, but in short: shop! Ask around, talk with the boat yards, boat brokers, insurance and finance companies and see who is recommended. Boat surveyors in San Diego and around Southern California usually develop a reputation. Often surveyors are known in the industry as a “buyers” surveyor, we suggest the buyer hire a surveyor with a reputation for being thorough and ethical. The client should also make sure the boat surveyor has performed marine inspections and insurance surveys that have been recognized by the insurance and financial institutions being used, as applicable.

What are marine surveyors qualifications?

Qualifications are very diverse among marine surveyors. There is very little organized, formal training. There are no licenses for marine surveyors in most states. All one really needs is a business card. There is no governmental regulation of the industry. There is a school in Florida that runs a six week program. Over the years most boat surveyors in San Diego have learned the business as a trade, from another marine surveyor, more or less as an apprentice. Many banks and insurance companies look for membership in one of two organizations SAMS and NAMS. Members of these organizations need five years surveying experience performing insurance surveys and marine inspections, and must take a test to become accredited members. I have been a member of SAMS since about 1993 and was the Pacific Regional Director for several years.

What type of training and education do marine surveyors have?

Again it is diverse. We require continuing education as part of the membership and a lot of my education has come from symposiums hosted by SAMS. There are many other organizations that provide excellent educational opportunities. They include ABYC, a organization that has developed a set of voluntary standards for boat construction and IBEX, a boating industry educational symposium held once a year.

What are the different types of marine surveyors and surveys?

There are marine surveyors that do what we do, boats and yachts – basically recreational craft. There are marine surveyors that specialize in ships, including the inspection of the ship and cargo inspections. There are also commercial craft boat surveyors in San Diego and around California working on tugs and barges, commercial fishing vessels and special purpose craft, ie. dredges, etc…

What are the criteria for banks and insurance companies?

Membership in either SAMS and NAMS is the most common requirement. Some companies have their own list of accepted boat surveyors. Often companies in San Diego take marine inspections and insurance surveys from anyone if it is complete and the surveyor submits a resume and references. SAMS has produced a “minimum surveyor content list”. It is a good yardstick to measure surveys by.

What types of marine surveys are available?

There are different levels of marine surveys, some are more extensive and some are less. Our San Diego boat inspectors offer a few different types of marine surveys, designed for the needs of the client. Our pre-purchase inspections are very thorough, due to the buying decision that is partially based on the results. We offer a less expensive survey for other purposes, primarily designed for the boat owner who is required to get a survey, but don’t necessarily want one, (for example for insurance renewal or refinancing). For these we offer a discount, but still perform a fairly thorough inspection.