So what is an Insurance Surveyor? By Ray Green Green Risk Management
So what is an anorak?
On appointment at the start of a one year training programme the first thing that was said to me was to go out and buy an anorak and a pair of safety Wellingtons. Looking back I’m not sure whether there is a latent anorak in every Surveyor and that it is the principle qualification for the job. Like the proverb “you are what you eat” perhaps you also “are what you wear”. In any event being slightly mad, or should I say eccentric does appear to run hand in hand with the job, like the anorak. I’m just not sure which comes first. Perhaps because we see so many different types of businesses and risks we believe that we acquire knowledge by osmosis for example if we see a spindle moulder being used often enough we become quite confident in our abilities to use spindle moulders. I remember a number of years ago a brilliant Property Surveyor or “Risk Manager” as he would now be known, who purchased some excess office chairs which were being sold off to staff following relocation. The reason he bought the chairs was to provide additional seating for two of his children when they went on holiday to France on the car ferry. The idea was to weld the chairs into the boot of a hatchback. No doubt he completed a hot work permit, but.......
So what is a surveyor?
A Surveyor has invariably been described in every insurance book ever written as the “eyes and ears of the Underwriter”. However a Surveyor is far more than that. Not only is a Surveyor a walking encyclopaedia (anorak), but he or she is
the face of the Insurance Company, often the only contact that the Insured may have with an Insurer unless they have a claim and meet the “LOSS ADJUSTER”. Consequently the Insurer and to an extent the Broker places the Surveyor in a position of trust which is often rewarded by assisting in cementing the relationship between all parties.
Possibly the biggest difficulty for any Surveyor whether in-house or independent is negotiating requirements with viable companies which are genuinely struggling ... Equally important to all parties is the Surveyor’s ability to come up with solutions to difficulties discovered on site and suggest cost effective options. Independent Surveyors are to all intents and purposes the in-house Surveyors of the Insurance Companies or Brokers they represent at the time of the survey. Some organisations prefer the Surveyor to tell the client that they are from the Insurance Company and others prefer
the client to know that you are from an independent unbiased organisation. Some companies go so far as to produce business cards with their company logo for independent surveyors and once we became the “strategic partner” of an Asian Insurer from whom nothing was ever heard from again. Though the certificate is proudly displayed in the office.
So what is the purpose of a survey?
The primary purpose is to provide information on a particular client to reduce potential insurance exposures to Underwriters. A property survey includes information such as the combustibility of the premises, passive and active fire protection, the occupancy, the probability of fire inception and spread, security, consequential loss exposures and potential for mitigation, as well as the likelihood and the exposure to a range of wet and dry perils. With regard to liability surveys the information obtained is not dissimilar but would concentrate more on the occupational exposures, the physical and health risks to employees and third parties who may be affected by the activities of the company including their products liability exposures. Once the potential risks are identified and quantified a risk reduction programme is agreed which may range from the installation of lighting above a single step to the installation of a sprinkler system.
risk manager magazine spring 2011