First, it appears that claim departments are under order to scrutinize all claims and to take every opportunity to minimize or eliminate payments on claims. Also, some claims people are misinterpreting what the policy says. I don’t know if this is because of a lack of knowledge or training or standing orders. 

For vessel hull damage claims, ocean marine insurance claims people are hiring a lot more marine damage surveyors to be their eyes and ears. As a result, my clients have been receiving some misinformation. This has namely come in the use of the word “betterment.” Betterment means depreciation. When I hear a surveyor use that term, I politely explain to him or her that vessel policy claims are settled on a “new for old” basis. This means no depreciation, thus no betterment. That’s when that portion of the claim sometimes becomes unfriendly.

This brings up another point. Surveyors are the eyes and ears of the insurance company. They are not claims adjusters, unless they have a license to legally do so. Many surveyors discuss policy terminology that they’re not licensed to talk about. In most cases, this creates another unfriendly situation.

When surveyors start picking apart a repair job with the repair facility it also creates a bad situation. In many cases it slows the repair process down. This is another unfriendly situation because a vessel’s sole purpose is to generate income. When a vessel sits in a repair yard, it costs money.

In many of these cases, an ocean marine insurance agent can step in to smooth the process. He or she can explain coverages to claims adjusters, moderate between the repairer and the surveyor, and explain the process to clients — at no extra cost to the insured.

A collection of stories from guest authors.