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How to Choose a Marine Surveyor 2

How to Choose a Marine Surveyor

Looking to Hire a Marine Surveyor? Here’s What You Need to Know to Ensure You Get the Best

Hiring the right marine surveyor will ensure you have a proper assessment of the risks associated with an upcoming marine venture.

On the other hand, hiring the wrong surveyor could leave you unprepared to manage the associated risks and ensure the safety and efficiency of your vessel and those on it.

That’s why selecting a marine surveyor is one of the most important decisions a marine vessel owner can make.

To help you make the best, most informed decision, we have compiled this short “Marine Surveyors Buyers Guide,” which identifies things to look for when comparing surveyors.

So let’s get started …

First Off, What Exactly is a Marine Surveyor & Why Do I Need One?

A marine surveyor conducts inspections of marine vessels in order to assess and report on the condition of the vessel and its cargo. There are a number of reasons why you may need a marine survey. For example: 

  • You may want to have a boat surveyed before you buy it
  • You may need a boat surveyed for insurance recertification
  • You may need a boat appraisal
  • You may want to assess damage that a boat has suffered
  • And more

There are several types of marine surveyors, including government surveyors, cargo surveyors, classification surveyors, independent surveyors and yacht and small craft surveyors.

If you own a boat, like a yacht or other small craft, or are thinking about buying one then it is the last two types of surveyors (independent and yacht and small craft) that you will most likely be dealing with.

Now that we have a better understanding of what a marine surveyor does and why they do it, here are five things to look for when selecting a marine surveyor.

What to Look For – Training & Certification

The best, most qualified marine surveyors are going to be members of multiple organizations, such as the Society of Accredited Marine Surveyors (SAMS), the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), the United States Surveyors Association (USSA) and the American Boat and Yacht Council (ABYC).

When considering marine surveyors, be sure they belong to organizations like this. Beyond that, make sure that they also have one or more certifications.

For example, a surveyor may be an “ABYC Member Technician” or they may be certified by an association like the U.S. Surveyor’s Association or the National Association of Marine Surveyors (NAMS).

One great thing about a marine surveyor being certified is that they are required to take continuing education to maintain their certification. That means they will be up to date on the very latest industry developments.

One more thing about marine surveyor certifications – yes there are many different ones. But if you are looking for a highly qualified marine surveyor you should look for one with an ABYC certification.

This certification is widely considered to be the most prestigious one in the marine surveyor community. If a surveyor has an ABYC certification you can be confident that they have both experience and verified knowledge.

What to Look For – Services Offered

Of course, this will depend a lot on the vessel you have and your marine survey needs but in general you should look for a marine surveyor who is known for providing excellence in a number of different areas, such as: 

  • Pre-purchase surveys
  • Engine analysis
  • Insurance surveys
  • Marine vessel appraisals
  • Cargo damage reports
  • And sea trials

These are the most commonly performed marine surveyor duties and by selecting a provider who is experienced in all these areas you will be much better positioned to deal with any additional issues that may arise in the future. You won’t have to go through the process of finding another marine surveyor for each issue. You’ll have one that you already trust to handle whatever comes up.

What to Look For – Area Serviced

If you are located in Southern California you would naturally want a marine surveyor that serves marinas in that area.

More specifically, you should look for a marine surveyor that serves such counties as Orange, San Diego, Los Angeles, San Bernardino, and Riverside.

Their service area should also include marinas in such cities as: Avalon, Balboa, Big Bear Lake, Carlsbad, Channel Islands Harbor, Corona Del Mar, Coronado, Dana Point, Huntington Beach, Long Beach, Marina del Rey, Newport Beach, Oceanside, Oxnard, Redondo Beach, San Diego, San Francisco, San Pedro, Santa Barbara, Seal Beach, and Ventura.

What to Look For – Rates

When it comes to marine surveyor rates it’s important to keep a couple of things in mind.

First, the cost of a boat survey or boat appraisal will vary depending on the type of vessel involved, its size and the complexity of its on-board systems.

Second, you should also keep in mind that marine surveyors have extensive training and experience and they must also maintain expensive memberships in associations that help police the industry. In addition to all that, they also may incur travel costs and have to work long or odd hours.

In other words, you shouldn’t be looking for the cheapest rates that you can find – not if you want a quality boat survey that you can rely on.

So what should you expect to pay?

Here are some good standard rates to look for when comparing marine surveyors: 

  • Pre-Purchase Survey – $18 to $24 a square foot 
  • Insurance Recertification Survey – $15 per square foot 
  • Engine Survey – $275 per motor 
  • Consulting – $125 per hour 

What to Look For – Guarantee

One more thing you should look for when selecting a marine surveyor is a guarantee.

The best marine surveyors will be confident in their boat appraisal and boat survey services and will offer some type of guarantee to back up their work. You should look for language similar to the following:

“We guarantee our marine surveys will be accepted by your bank and insurance underwriter. If our survey is rejected due to the quality or limitations of the report, simply have the underwriter forward us a letter on company letterhead stating the reason for the rejection, and the survey fee will be promptly refunded.”


In this short guide, we’ve given you five key things to look for when selecting a marine surveyor. If you pay attention to these areas you will dramatically increase your chances of hiring a surveyor and getting a boat appraisal or boat survey that meets your needs.

When selecting a marine surveyor, you should also take time to study their website and read their reviews. This can help you get a better feel for how a company operates and what you can expect from them.

We wish you the best of luck in finding a highly qualified marine surveyor with competitive rates!

If you would like to learn more about Ocean Marine Surveyors Inc. and what we can do for you, please click here to contact us directly. We would love the opportunity to answer any questions you may have and to tell you more about the services we offer, which include marine surveys and boat appraisals.