Having the vessel surveyed

It is generally agreed that no-one should buy a second-hand boat without having it surveyed. An insurer will sometimes want to see a recent survey report before agreeing to provide cover on some vessels – usually those over a certain age, home-built or refitted.

Choosing the right surveyor

  • Find a surveyor who is knowledgeable in the type of vessel involved
  • The surveyor must be independent of the buyer, seller and any intermediary involved in the sale
  • Be sure that the surveyor carries professional indemnity insurance
  • Many surveyors carry qualifications and/or are members of professional bodies, such as the Royal Institute of Naval Architects or the Yacht Brokers, Designers and Surveyors Association
  • To find a surveyor, telephone either of these associations or ask your local marina or Yacht Broker for a recommended list.

What type of survey? 

  • You should arrange a full survey, covering the whole vessel including engine(s), rig, hull, deck, fittings etc
  • The survey should be done out of the water, i.e. ‘dry’
  • To be acceptable to an insurer (bearing in mind that each insurer may have its own rules), any survey should be no more than two years old
  • Don’t rely on a survey done for someone else, such as the previous owner or an earlier potential buyer. While it may be a useful guide, the surveyor involved only has the responsibility to the person who commissioned the survey and nobody else
  • However, if there is a survey that has been done for someone else, it may be possible – and more economical – to ask the surveyor who conducted it to update it, rather than commissioning an entirely new survey
  • Any survey will contain recommendations. These should be arranged in some order of priority, such as:

            - Tasks that must be attended to before the vessel is put back in the water
            - Tasks that can be done after the vessel is afloat, but before it is put back into commission
            - Tasks that should be done soon, but can wait until the next lay up period
            - Tasks that need doing to ‘keep the vessel in good condition’.

Once the recommended tasks have been carried out, the surveyor should be called back to check them and confirm, in writing, that they have been completed satisfactorily.

Condition report

On some vessels (usually smaller ones), an insurer may only ask for a condition report. The vessel should then be inspected by a knowledgeable boat builder who is able to give an independent opinion (i.e. has not carried out any work on the vessel themselves). They should be asked to confirm in writing that the vessel:

  • Is in sound sea or river worthy condition
  • Is suitable for the use to which it will be put
  • Has been well maintained
  • Continues to be well maintained.

How often do you need a survey?

While it is wise to have any ‘older’ vessel checked over regularly, it is up to the owner as to how often a survey should be arranged. Although owners often feel they ‘know’ their own boat, it is essential that an independent, qualified and insured surveyor is called in when necessary.

Some insurers ask for surveys on a regular basis – perhaps every three or five years. If an insurer requests a survey, it is a good idea to ask how often they will require a new one.

With Saga Boat Insurance, you do not need another survey for the insured vessel as long as you continue to renew the policy.


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