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Ask Your Boat Surveyor the Right Questions

How do you choose the right marine surveyor for the job? The best place to start is with the Australasian Institute of Marine Surveyors.


Congratulations! You’ve taken a great step towards protecting your investment. 

That being said, where do you start in your search for the right marine surveyor? Surveyors are not created equal and their experience and qualifications can be as diverse as the range of boats on the water. And once you find the one, do you know the questions to ask to make sure you are getting exactly what you want and need?

The good news is you’re not alone in your journey. The Australasian Institute of Marine Surveyors (AIMS) has a membership of over 400 surveyors with varying degrees of experience and qualifications. They don’t accept membership without checking the professional experience of our surveyors, and award their members levels of membership based on this. Their transparency helps consumers make an informed choice in their surveyor. What’s more, AIMS expects members to adhere to our Code of Professional Conduct and ongoing yearly Continuing Professional Development. As you can see, they take the professionalism of surveyors seriously.


When making contact with a marine surveyor, take the time to ask a few questions — don’t be charmed by the lowest price. When dealing with a vessel survey the old adage may definitely apply: you get what you pay for. 

Do you know what type of survey you need? A pre-purchase and insurance survey are not one and the same. An insurance survey is primarily for the needs of insurance companies and is often a tick box report outlining the features of the vessel. It provides little information or peace of mind for the boat purchaser on the quality or condition of the vessel. A pre-purchase survey is much more detailed and reports not only on the features of the vessel but also the condition including any evident recent repairs or future maintenance requirements. A pre-purchase survey will cost more, but its value is worth every cent. 

Don’t be afraid to ask the qualifications and experience of your surveyor. What is their professional background that led them to marine surveying? Have they undertaken any marine surveying specific qualifications, such as a Diploma of Marine Surveying? If they have but it was more than five years ago, have they since undertaken any further professional development? Do they have the up-to-date knowledge and expertise to provide a mechanical report as part of their survey? And, importantly, do they have prior experience on boats such as yours specifically? A quality surveyor will usually advertise their expertise and can answer questions to confirm their suitability for your survey. 

Are they a member of a professional organisation such as AIMS? Membership with a professional association assists surveyors in staying up-to-date and at the forefront of industry updates and advancements. A quality professional surrounds themselves with similar like-minded professionals. If you are not sure if your surveyor is a member you can search the AIMS database at aimsurveyors.com.au or give them a call on (02) 6232 6555.

Is your surveyor covered by Professional Indemnity Insurance? Ask for evidence of their insurance coverage before you begin, as you want to make sure all bases are covered in the event things don’t go as planned.

And finally, ask your surveyor for a Terms of Engagement if they don’t provide one. This document outlines the specifics of the survey type and report to be provided, as well as survey costs and payment terms. This document is critical in clarifying exactly what you are getting for your money and in the undesirable event that things don’t go as planned, can form a legal agreement to fall back on. If your surveyor does not provide a Terms of Engagement agreement, boat owners and buyers can download one from the AIMS website for free. Insist on getting your terms in writing before you begin.

Armed with all this knowledge, you can confidently undertake the task of selecting your surveyor and getting the right survey for your needs. There is no better way to proceed on the adventure of boat ownership than with peace of mind for the safety of your asset and all those onboard. 

The Australasian Institute of Marine Surveyors believes in the value of a quality survey and consumers can turn to them and our surveyors to assist you well on your way. 


  • Establish the type of survey.
  • Engage a Professionally qualified surveyor.
  • Use a specialist surveyor for a specific type of boat.
  • Can the surveyor do a mechanical as well as a structural survey?
  • Does the Surveyor have Professional Indemnity Insurance?
  • Does the Surveyor provide Terms of Engagement? 
  • Consult AIMS website for documents.