General Insurance policies are of different kinds like for your car, home contents, buildings, machinery in your factory, shops, goods being transported & a lot more.
However, when a mishap take place & a claim is filed for compensation , there could be differences between what an insurer and the insured believe the actual loss in a particular situation to be. So the insurer sends a surveyor or a loss assessor to determine the quantum of damage.
The surveyor and loss assessors are expected to observe the damage and submit their report about it independent of the insurer and the insured. And on the basis of his report, the amount of compensation is determined by the insurance company & payment is made to the insured.
For example a person takes policy for his car against the fire, accident and theft etc. One day the car meets with an accident, the policyholder will lodge a claim with the company for compensation. The insurance company will appoint surveyor to assess the loss in accident. The surveyors will then go and assess the extent of loss. On the basis of the report submitted by the surveyor, the insurance company will liable to settle the claim of insurance.
The public sector insurance companies take the services of independent surveyors who are not on their pay role but are a third party service providers but most of the private insurance companies deploy their employees for the survey & assessment of the loss.
So a surveyor is essentially a professional link between the insured and the insurer. They usually function only in non life insurance business.
Normally there are two kinds of surveyors, Motor & non motor. The motor surveyors handle the vehicle accident cases whereas the non-motor surveyors handle the loss to machinery, stocks, buildings etc. which may have occurred due to fire, flood, theft, breakdowns as per the perils covered in the insurance policy. So the surveyors assess the losses in line with their qualification & area of expertise.
Normally the people with mechanical or automobile qualifications handle the motor accident claims whereas the non-motor surveyors are expected to have vast experience in the field of machinery, buildings, accounting, chemicals, hardware, wooden materials & 100’s of other things, meaning they should have long & vast product as well as the life exposure.
The funny side:
Now a days, the insurers have lot of expectations from the surveyor. So to be a surveyor, you must ‘be courteous, diplomatic, shrewd, persuasive, an expert jollier, of an equable temper, slow to anger, a Sherlock Holmes, up-to date, good looking (with honest eyes and a glad hand), a good memory, acute business judgment, and the embodiment of virtue but with a good working knowledge of sin and evil in all its forms.
A surveyor must understand insurance, electricity, chemistry, mechanics, physics, bookkeeping, banking, merchandising, selling, shipping, contracting law, medicine, real estate, horse trading and human nature.
He must be a mind-reader, a hypnotist, an athlete, and above all, an expert photographer. He must be acquainted with machinery of all types and materials of all kinds and he must know the current price of everything from a shoestring to a skyscraper. He must know all, see all, and tell nothing and be everywhere at the same time.
He must satisfy the claims manager, deputy manager, the clerical staff, the underwriting department ,the development manager, the general agent, the local agent, the solicitor, the insured, the claimant and the repairer.