A detailed survey helps your insurer assess the risk and might lead to a lower premium. But don't expect them to pay up for things that are missed.
Once your boat reaches a ‘certain age’, an insurer is likely to want to have a look at a condition survey. This is because no two boats will be used or looked after in exactly the same way, and the general condition of two boats of the same type and age may be vastly different. The insurers need to be able to assess just how much of a risk they are getting into – if, indeed, they are prepared to take it on.
A survey is expensive. But it benefits you, too, to know what condition your boat is in and any remedial work that may need doing. Your own safety may depend on it! It also benefits you in that, without the opportunity to assess the degree of risk in detail, the insurer would need to charge much higher premiums. And if your insurer doesn’t want to see a condition survey, perhaps you should question, ‘why not?’ If the condition is not important, is it because old or worn items are not insured?
However, it’s worth checking when insurers request surveys – both the age at which a first survey is required, and also the intervals at which they are required, since this can vary between insurers and can be quite a costly procedure.
One final point on surveys – the insurers will use this as a tool to help them assess the degree of risk. Just because they accept what the survey says is the condition of the boat for the purpose of determining premium, it does not mean that they will pay out under your insurance policy for any defects not picked up by the surveyor! That is between you and your surveyor – so it’s worth making sure you select your surveyor carefully.
In the UK, the Yacht Brokers, Designers and Surveyors Association (YBDSA) and the Royal Institution of Naval Architects are two examples of organisations that hold lists of suitably qualified and experienced surveyors who all carry Professional Indemnity Insurance.