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Old 08-25-2016, 07:43 AM   #1
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Self Survey

Unless my insurance company changes their verbal assurance that they won't require it, I'm not planning to have the boat I think we are about to buy surveyed.

(Standing by for the flames)

I spent my professional life designing boats from 8 to 400+ feet including a fiberglass fishing boat that is still working out of Portland a quarter century later. I even did some surveying way back when a surveyor was just someone who knew how to get letterheads and business cards printed.

My last two survey experiences were quite unsatisfactory. One surveyor produced extensive lists of things that didn't meet current ABYC standards on a 1980's boat but missed the broken engine mounts and bolts missing from the shaft coupling. I found them after and called him to have them included in the report. If I had spent that time looking around instead of staying out of the surveyor's way, I would have known a lot more about the boat and we might not have bought it. The other surveyor was on the boat for about an hour.

This time, I'm planning three full days for inspection and sea trial. We have a buyer's broker with extensive trawler experience as owner and broker who will be there as a second pair of eyes. The seller is also a broker who has been through a lot of surveys and is selling his well loved personal boat so I expect it to be better cared for than our last boat which had been a stationary houseboat for a decade. I don't think the PO of that craft had ever seen the inside of a marine supply store.
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Old 08-25-2016, 08:14 AM   #2
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I think it would be great to eliminate if you feel confident.

Obviously the 2 things that a survey helps with is the price negotiation and the CYA with the insurance company.

When the cost of a survey is a significant percentage of the purchase price, one has to wonder if it is better spent on repairs, as long as the "buyer checklist" is a good one.

After being a boat enthusiast with liveaboard experience and moderate repair skills....I now see where working full time with boats for 16 years is a totally different ballgame. Now I feel confident enough to know what to look for and even more importantly, what not to care about as I know it will probably need fixing/replacing anyhow.

With that knowledge comes the ability to know what is a fair price too....so I say go for it if you can live without those 2 reasons I stated above.
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Old 08-25-2016, 08:48 AM   #3
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Yup, I found stuff the surveyor missed the first time. He had surveyed the boat 2 weeks earlier for a contract that fell through. Had the additional stuff included in my survey to reduce the final sale price. The place where I think you will have a problem is hull value. Insurance companies will want to make sure they're not over insuring and creating incentive for a loss.

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Old 08-25-2016, 08:52 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by Roger Long View Post
My last two survey experiences were quite unsatisfactory. One surveyor produced extensive lists of things that didn't meet current ABYC standards on a 1980's boat but missed the broken engine mounts and bolts missing from the shaft coupling............... If I had spent that time looking around instead of staying out of the surveyor's way, I would have known a lot more about the boat and we might not have bought it.
I had a similar experience & would have been better off surveying the boat myself but the insurance company wouldn't accept my inspection. (N0 marine professional credentials.) Good Luck & I agree with your intent!
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Old 08-25-2016, 09:03 AM   #5
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Just about every marine insuring company I can think of will require a survey on the vessel if it is older that 10 years of age if you desire hull coverage. Liability only is generally available without a survey report.

That being said, I must disagree with your intention to stick with a self survey for a vessel that you know had a partial sinking. Your resume is impressive, but designing a vessel does not qualify you to factually and accurately ascertain the material condition of the vessel. The questions you asked in your earlier post regarding the vessel in question make that point glaringly obvious.

I am an underwriter for GEICO, and in charge of our charter programs for the US. From my standpoint, I would require an out of the water condition and valuation completed post damage prior to binding coverage. We (the insurer) are offering agreed value coverage, and require a disinterested third party review of the vessel (NAMS or SAMS affiliated surveyor) as a condition of binding. I also know that all of the major carriers have similar requirements.
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Old 08-25-2016, 09:10 AM   #6
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I think someone with your experience is fine. In your case the only times a surveyor would be worthwhile would be if the surveyor had extensive experience with the particular model of boat being surveyed or if you need the unbiased additional set of eyes for negotiating purposes.
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Old 08-25-2016, 09:14 AM   #7
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I know a lot about boats and houses but always get a survey because a second set of eyes is valuable.

Before survey however I do my own very extensive inspection in case that leads me to stop the purchase. I give that info to the surveyor after asking what major things he found giving him the opportunity to verify my findings.

Everyone has their key items to look for and someone elses may be different. I agree insurance will require it unless you are only seeking liability coverage.
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Old 08-25-2016, 09:20 AM   #8
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That being said, I must disagree with your intention...
You make a good case. However, the flooding incident was a couple years ago and the boat has been operating since. I will have a chance to review all the paperwork produced including the insurance survey.

I've checked out the yard that did the recovery work and they get top notch reviews including one from someone I know personally who had a lot of work done there and whose opinion I trust. I'll also be able to talk to the people who recovered the vessel and replaced the equipment.

Yeah, I could get burned by this but I know from experience I could get burned with a survey and there is no recourse. At least I can whip myself with a wet noodle if it doesn't turn out well.
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Old 08-25-2016, 10:21 AM   #9
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I have done this in the past.
Stipulate in the contract that you want:
To take a boat ride (sea trial) and see if you like the way it rides, etc. and renegotiate if needed. I had an offer on one boat that couldn't even make it out of the slip. I had another where the engine overheated at WOT and wouldn't restart for over an hour. Glad I wasn't paying for a surveyor on those occasions.
One or more days for you to inspect the boat. You can test several systems without paying for survey time and renegotiate if needed.
If you still want the boat at this point, set up a sea trial and haul out. Hire the surveyor and hand him a list of the issues you found. He can focus his time on the unknowns. No since having him tell you that the refrigerator is taking a long time to get cold when he checks the temp every 10 minutes and you have already renegotiated this item with the owner.
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Old 08-25-2016, 12:40 PM   #10
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I ended up w a DIY survey on current boat.
I felt comfortsble after 3 day inspectipn and sea trial to go ahead w haul out and hull / running gear inspection.
Boat was fairly new and hardly used which helped.
I did have a buyers broker and offer included option of boat & engine survey and I would have if I found issues I wanted more info.
I found several minor items and used marine catalog and the yard estimates to negotiate a lower price.
Many good checklists available online and on TF
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Old 08-25-2016, 01:52 PM   #11
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I am reading with interest the apparent distaste for getting a proper survey completed as part of a purchase process, and will agree there are some valid points that have been made.

At the same time, one must think of the other side of insurability- claims. Underwriting uses survey data to ascertain condition and valuation for vessels for both initial underwriting and claims. We review the survey, and then require written proof that recommendations made that are safety or seaworthiness concerns are rectified in a short period of time after the risk is bound. This creates a written trail of accountability for all parties.

What happens when a claim occurs, and there is no basis? What if the claim is a partial sinking due to a compromised seawater intake hose, but that fact is not initially reported to underwriting as a factor in obtaining coverage?

I've been around boats all my life, and owned boats from 11' to 60'. I have much knowledge in vessel system, and am not afraid to get dirty and get stuff done. I also want a surveyor to look at my boat so my rose colored glasses of excitement about a new boat don't taint flaws I would otherwise miss...not to mention the simple fact that I desire to remain insurable. Watercraft damages, liability, and pollution claims are expensive, and I'd rather have my insurance company (if covered) pay instead of me.
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Old 08-25-2016, 03:36 PM   #12
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Hard to imagine any insurance company is going to insure fully any boat without a survey. A verbal assertion would not be enough.
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Old 08-25-2016, 03:43 PM   #13
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I am reading with interest the apparent distaste for getting a proper survey completed as part of a purchase process, and will agree there are some valid points that have been made.
No distaste for the concept just with poor experience. There are some very good surveyors out there but they are busy and hard to get on short notice.

Most people won't have a choice anyway as their insurance company will require it. I'm fortunate in that mine recognizes my experience.

To be clear: I highly recommend getting a survey. I would in this case, if I could get one of the few surveyors I trust in time for the same reason doctors don't practice on family members or diagnose themselves.

In our situation though, with a boat far away and limited time, I think the time will be better spent looking very closely myself. If anything comes up that I'm not sure about, I probably will see about a surveyor to look at the specific issue. More likely, we'll walk away. The boat is listed as "ready to cruise". That's what we need and I have some independent verification that the listing phrase is accurate.

If we need a survey for insurance company change, valuation, or whatever, I can always arrange for it at leisure down the road.
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Old 08-25-2016, 03:56 PM   #14
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Roger,

You are right, the good surveyors are always busy. I dont think I would skip the process though due to time constraints. After looking at the vessel, write a contract requiring a survey and stipulate the time needed to lock the seller into waiting for you to get everything done properly. The survey fees are always such a small percentage of the total transaction. For liability purposes alone I would rather someone else sign off so to speak.

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Old 08-25-2016, 04:13 PM   #15
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Greetings,
Mr. RL. Given your experience, you can always survey to your own satisfaction and then get ANY flunkie to sign off on it. The insurance company does not care one iota as to the "surveyors" expertise, only that he/she has those magic letters after their names...SAMS or NAMS.
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Old 08-25-2016, 04:30 PM   #16
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I think it would be unwise to pass up the boat of your dreams because an insurance company wants a professional survey. The cost will be just a small fraction of the boat's value.

Unless you can find another insurance company, you may not be able to buy a boat. Why leave that decision up to an insurance company?
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Old 08-25-2016, 04:33 PM   #17
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No distaste for the concept just with poor experience. There are some very good surveyors out there but they are busy and hard to get on short notice.
If you have poor experience, then perhaps some part of the problem is your selection. You say you know good surveyors, but hard to get on short notice. Put time in the offer to get one. Don't let an arbitrary time crunch lead you to a poor decision. Better to wait 10 days for someone you trust than a stranger tomorrow.

A couple of items whether you do it or have someone do it. You need to do some thermal imaging on hull and equipment and a good check for any hidden water. I hear stories of people finding some mud years later. There were a lot of things reassembled, from the sound of it nearly all wiring, all hoses and connections. Also, run it enough to get some decent oil for sampling, which is a challenge when it's all new oil in it.

I don't honestly think insurance will leave you a choice, but don't then just satisfy them. As long as you must get a survey for them, use it for you, with a surveyor you can communicate with, one who will be ok with you being there if that's what you want.

I look at an insurance survey much like I did an audit in the business world. It's a necessary evil, a requirement. So, if I have auditors on site reviewing things, then I always want their observations beyond the audit scope, things they might offer to help us, something of added value. Well, if I'm getting an insurance survey, I want the surveyor to point out anything necessary for insurance, but I want him to point out other non critical things and make suggestions to me. An example would be a piece of equipment that's functioning fine, but he has knowledge that they're discontinuing support for it and advises me. Or he says, your abcdx is working fine. I've seen quite a few recently with such and such a problem so make sure you keep it serviced and inspect it regularly.
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Old 08-25-2016, 04:47 PM   #18
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Contrary to what has been said, there are insurance companies that will insure a boat without a survey. I am 100% sure of this because both of my boats were insured without survey. I am talking agreed value yacht coverage not liability only. I did document the conditions of the boats with detailed descriptions of condition and repairs done and many pictures.
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Old 08-25-2016, 05:27 PM   #19
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Contrary to what has been said, there are insurance companies that will insure a boat without a survey. I am 100% sure of this because both of my boats were insured without survey. I am talking agreed value yacht coverage not liability only. I did document the conditions of the boats with detailed descriptions of condition and repairs done and many pictures.
Please elaborate.
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Old 08-25-2016, 06:04 PM   #20
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.... What happens when a claim occurs, and there is no basis? What if the claim is a partial sinking due to a compromised seawater intake hose, but that fact is not initially reported to underwriting as a factor in obtaining coverage?....

I also want a surveyor to look at my boat so my rose colored glasses of excitement about a new boat don't taint flaws I would otherwise miss....
Two observations on the above.
1. The duty of disclosure cannot extend to things you don`t know. If you remain ignorant of some information I don`t see how you can be penalised by an insurer for non disclosure.
2. Agreed. You are proceeding towards purchase because you like the boat. It is hard to be sure you remain objective during a self survey process, but a surveyor will. He has no horse in the race except his fee, his reputation,and customer service.

I think the OP has the skills to self survey. I would not categorize his intention as "courageous" or "character forming"(thank you "Yes Minister" and Sir Humphrey Appleby) Question is, should he.
If the only route to a reputable insurance company is a survey, it is necessary. Limiting choice of insurers to those not requiring a survey may not be a good move.
And there is the old adage "two heads are better than one". By all means do all your own checks and enquiries, but at the sharp decision point, imo, get a survey.
One other thing,the use of a survey as a price negotiating tool comes a distant second to information gathering, as it should. And, there are owners who having negotiated a price,will not renegotiate post survey.
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