Surveyor's role

Norwegian Hull Club’s expectations to Surveyors and survey reporting

Norwegian Hull Club (NHC) was, as per 1.1.2015, involved with coverage of 9728 units; with the responsibility of 5374 of these as claims lead. In 2014, 969 claims were registered and handled by us as claims lead (P&I claims not included).

NHC cover for a variety of damage scenarios, of which the Hull and Machinery and the Loss of Hire claims are the most time consuming. As claims leader we assist owners with their damage in accordance with the agreed policy, terms and conditions and we are involved all the way from notification until owners have been compensated for their loss according to the final adjustment.

As a result of this we are involved from day one, and the first person on board is most often the appointed surveyor. The surveyor has some important tasks to do. 1) He (or she, but I will use the term he as there is only a very few female surveyors around) is to establish the cause of damage and give an initial assessment of the extent and cost of damage – or the equally important duration of repair when it comes to LOH. 2) Upon receiving owners` statement of claim, we will forward this to the surveyor and he is to approve the damage repair cost and the general expenses that is cost of which is related to both damage work and owners work.

Hence the surveyor is of utmost importance in order to complete the case, and only upon the completion of his work, the owners can be reimbursed for their expenses related to the damage.

Most owners have a very competent ship manager involved to run and handle their vessels technically. Luckily, the ship manager with their superintendents are normally not equally experienced in handling significant or difficult damage situations. The surveyor has more often been involved in numerous damages and will consequently in most cases be an asset for the owners when the damage occurs.

It is the objective of NHC that whatever damages a vessel or rig may sustain, wherever it may happen, the Owners, through his Captain and Crew and/or his Superintendent, should get the best possible service and support in handling their damage scenario.
The surveyor is therefore not only conducting the survey, but can also eagerly assist owners with a damage specification and consider repair alternatives with class and makers. In addition he is often very familiar and well acquainted with local matters at the place of occurrence and/or the place of repairs, and this can sometimes be of significant advantage.

Due to their significant role, it is of outmost importance for NHC to ensure that the surveyors we use are qualified, competent and motivated for their task. A good surveyor obviously needs to be technically competent, experienced and unbiased. He also needs to be able to present his finding in a well written survey report which should be understood and acknowledged not only by the owner and NHC as claims lead, but also by the broker, co-insurers and possible re-insurers. The case may also involve a GA adjuster, and sometimes an appointed average adjuster and a maritime lawyer. Many of these are non-technicians, and it is therefore important that the surveyor issues his report with clear and easily understandable information and technical descriptions of the damage and the necessary repairs. At the same time the report has to be well-documented and supported with facts in order for the receiver to acknowledge it.

Equally important; the Surveyor also needs to have good communication skills. Being the first, and sometimes the only, representative for underwriters on the scene, he needs to be able to communicate with owner’s representatives, the superintendent, the master and his crew, class surveyors, makers, the ship repair managers from a yard and their yard foremen, or possibly an opponent surveyor in collision cases or other situations where third parties are involved. Creating an open and honest atmosphere between the relevant parties will always make the claims progress smoother.

In our point of view the surveyor is equally important for both owners and underwriters, and both parties should ensure that he is getting access, information and support in conducting his work. The better co-operation between Owners and the surveyor, the better the damage repair process will be. In most cases this will lead to a quicker settlement of the claim; which after all is the overall objective of insurance.

5. Feb. 2015