/ BLOG – 

Nomenclatures & Roles in Marine Surveying

Marine surveying encompasses the critical assessment, inspection, and analysis of marine vessels and cargo. It involves evaluating the condition of ships, ensuring compliance with various regulatory standards, and assessing damages or risks associated with maritime transport.

This sector is characterized by a labyrinth of titles and roles that differ widely across industries, companies, brokers, and countries. This diversity in nomenclature, often rooted in specific operational or regional needs, results in similar roles being uniquely defined and interpreted in various contexts.

While certain titles may seem interchangeable to outsiders, professionals in Marine Insurance are well-versed in the nuances that distinguish each role.

Central to the marine claims process, especially in the wake of a loss, are critical functions like inspection, reporting, and adjustment. These stages are vital as insured parties strive to understand, confirm, and validate the extent of their losses. In this milieu, roles such as adjusters, inspectors, and others emerge, each with a distinct set of responsibilities and expertise.

This article aims to unravel the complexities of common roles involved in marine claims and surveys, shedding light on:

  • Marine Surveyors
  • Adjusters, Claims Adjusters, and Loss Adjusters
  • Valuers
  • Appraisers
  • Consultants


Examples of Differences Between Roles and Titles

  1.   Marine Surveyor

Marine Surveyors is a common title in Marine Insurance, used to design Experts who assess the condition of ships, cargo and maritime equipment. Marine Surveyors play a important role in the claims process.

There are several specialized types of marine surveyors, each focusing on different aspects of maritime assessment and inspection, like cargo surveyors, H&M Surveyors, or On/Off-Hire Surveyors.

The role and title of a marine surveyor can vary significantly from one country to another, reflecting the diverse needs and practices of the maritime industry globally. 

For instance, in Vietnam, the term “Survey Division Adjusters” is commonly used for marine surveyors. Additionally, it is not unusual to find roles in some companies where surveyors and adjusters work in conjunction, while in others, these functions are distinctly separate. In China, Marine Surveyors often collaborate with shipping companies and government agencies, focusing on international trade compliance.

In Spain, the roles of ‘peritos’ and ‘Comisario de Averías’ are prevalent. ‘Peritos’ are experts in inspections and evaluations, and ‘Comisarios de Averías’ are specialized in verifying ship and transport vehicle damages, determining causes of damage, evaluating and certifying, and providing professional representation and advice to the insured, insurers, or third parties in salvage operations, claims settlement, or risk prevention.

When to appoint a Marine Surveyor in a claims process?

In the claims process, appointing a Marine Surveyor is crucial for:

  • Conducting an early evaluation of the damage to estimate the potential claim value and guide subsequent actions.
  • Offering impartial insights in complex, multi-party cases to establish liability based on professional evaluation.
  • Advising on ways to minimize ongoing damages, such as water ingress or cargo deterioration, benefiting both the insured and insurer.
 
  1. Adjusters, Claims Adjusters & Loss Adjusters

Adjusters have varying roles based on the region. For example:

  • In North America (especially in the United States), «claims adjusters» often work on a variety of claims, including property, accidents, and maritime insurance. They may be employed by an insurance company or work independently.
  • In the United Kingdom and other Commonwealth countries, terms such as «claims handler» or «loss adjuster» are used. «Loss adjusters» often handle more complex claims and may have a more investigative role.
  • In some European countries, they might be referred to as «Insurance Adjusters» or «Claims Handlers.»
  • In Spain, adjusters are known as «técnicos de prestaciones» and tend to have a more technical approach in evaluating claims.

Despite these regional differences in terminology, the core functions of these roles are broadly similar.

 

Claims Adjuster

The term «claims adjuster» is more commonly used in the United States and Canada. In these regions, a claims adjuster is a professional who investigates insurance claims to determine the extent of the insuring company’s liability. A claims adjuster works either within insurance companies or as an independent freelancer.

Their functions include:

  • Investigating insurance claims to determine the extent of a company’s liability in providing insurance.
  • Evaluating claims related to cargo damage and incidents involving hull and machinery, which requires a detailed investigation of the circumstances and an assessment of the extent of damage to ships, cargo, and machinery.
  • Ensuring compliance of shipping incident claims with maritime insurance policy terms, involving meticulous review of policy details to determine liability and coverage.

 

Typical cases in which they intervene are:

  • Assessing situations where containers are damaged or lost at sea to determine the extent of loss and insurance coverage.
  • Evaluating ship collision incidents when a shipowner, as a policyholder, files a claim. This involves determining the impact on the ship’s hull and machinery and assessing the claim based on the policy’s coverage.
  • Claims adjusters are often involved in cases where there is a dispute over cargo insurance claims. They analyze the claim details, evaluate the evidence presented, and help in reaching a resolution that aligns with the policy terms and the nature of the incident.

 

Loss Adjusters

In United Kingdom and Australia, the term commonly used is «Loss Adjuster.» These professionals perform a similar role to claims adjusters in the U.S. and Canada, but the terminology reflects a slight difference in the focus of the job, emphasizing the assessment of the loss involved in a claim. Their main functions are:

  • Determining the amount of compensation that an insurance company should pay to an insured in the event of a claim or loss.

Additionally, their responsibilities include:

  • Ensuring that the claim process is fair and that the insured receives adequate compensation in accordance with the terms and conditions of their insurance policy.
  • Conducting detailed investigations to assess the true extent of a loss or damage, often involving collaboration with experts in various fields.
  • Providing expert opinions on complex claims, which may include interpreting intricate policy clauses and determining the applicability of policy exclusions.
  • Negotiating settlements with policyholders or their representatives, ensuring that all parties reach an equitable agreement based on the policy provisions and the specifics of the claim.

For instance, in a marine claim, they coordinate with various stakeholders, including shipowners, cargo owners, port authorities, and salvage operators, to gather comprehensive information about the incident.

 

  1. Valuers

Valuers are professionals in the insurance and maritime industry, responsible for determining the value of cargo, ships, or yachts.

They perform an objective and accurate evaluation to assist insurers, shipowners, and other stakeholders in making informed decisions regarding insurance coverage and claims.

What can we expect from them?

  • Valuers provide an expert market valuation for various items, from cargo to ship or luxury yachts.
  • They offer advice on the care and security of these items to maintain their value.
  • Valuers can investigate an item’s provenance, ensuring everything is in order for insurance or sale purposes.
  • Clients receive a detailed written report and valuation, which is crucial for insurance and legal purposes.

When to appoint a valuer?

Regular valuations are important as market prices can fluctuate. It’s recommended to have items like cargo, vessels, or yachts valued regularly.

This is particularly important in several scenarios:

  • Insurance Policy Initiation or Renewal: To establish a fair and accurate insurance premium, valuers assess the value of items when a new policy is being initiated or an existing one is due for renewal.
  • Pre-Claim Condition Assessment: Valuers are essential in determining the pre-claim condition and value of assets, which serves as a benchmark in the event of a future claim.
  • Asset Purchase or Sale: For informed decision-making during the acquisition or disposal of high-value assets, valuers provide a reliable market value estimation.
  • Financial Reporting and Loan Security: When assets are used as collateral for loans or need to be reported in financial statements, valuers help in assessing their fair market value.

 

Clients include banks, lawyers, insurers, shipping lines, the Government and other government agencies.

  1.     Appraisers

Appraisers specialize in estimating the value, quality, and authenticity of items, often focusing on assessing damage to determine depreciation after an incident. 

Unlike valuers, who evaluate market or replacement value under normal conditions, appraisers are key when items have sustained damage.

When to appoint an appraiser?

  • When items such as art, antiques, property, or vehicles, including yachts and ships, have been damaged, an appraiser’s assessment is crucial to understand the extent and financial impact of the damage.
  • In the event of a claim, especially when there’s a dispute about the value of damaged items, an appraiser’s evaluation is key to ensuring a fair and accurate insurance settlement.
  • If you have specialized items that require expert knowledge for valuation post-damage, such as unique art pieces or antique furniture, appointing an appraiser with specialization in that area ensures a more precise and informed valuation.

In countries like the United States, the term «appraiser» is commonly used and well-defined within the insurance and real estate industries.

In the United Kingdom, the term «appraiser» is not as commonly used as in the United States. Equivalent functions are often carried out by «chartered surveyors» (especially in real estate) or by «loss adjusters» and «claims handlers» in the insurance industry.

In many EU countries, property and damage valuation is typically performed by specialized experts in each field, such as insurance «peritos» or real estate «tasadores.»

 

  1.     Consultant

Consultants in the insurance industry offer expert advice on a range of issues, from risk management to policy optimization. They help insurance companies, policyholders, and other stakeholders navigate complex insurance scenarios and make informed decisions.

When to appoint a consultant?

  • Developing risk management strategies.
  • Policy analysis and optimization for maritime companies.

Understanding the nuanced roles and nomenclature in Marine Surveying is crucial in the maritime and insurance industries. Whether it’s a Marine Surveyor in Spain or a Claims Adjuster in the United States, each role is integral to ensuring safety, compliance, and fair dealings in maritime operations and insurance claims. As the maritime industry continues to evolve, so too will the roles and responsibilities of these key professionals, reflecting the dynamic and multifaceted nature of the marine world.

At Claimar, discover a comprehensive range of services catered to your maritime and insurance needs.

We are Claimar, your Third Party Administration (TPA) management partner, skilled and expert in marine services.

Newsletter

Sign up to our newsletter