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The Role of a Lloyd's Agent - a Polish perspective

Fri 08 Mar 2019

From a broad range of analytical skills, and steadfast ethics, our Lloyd's Agent in Poland explains what it takes to be an excellent surveyor.

Should a claims professional choose the cheapest or the best service? Experience from many trades teaches us these two criteria exist together seldom. Should an Insurer who is underwriting a high-value item that’s part of a multi-million pounds project cargo, be merely guided by the price of a surveyor’s service? Hopefully not, and they will choose a trustworthy company where the surveyors’ knowledge, skills and professionalism are second to none.

Increasingly, we notice that the reason a surveyor is appointed is often neither their qualifications nor their experience. The swiftness of their reporting and the reports’ insightful contents seem to also be less important. The claims adjuster may well have appointed someone who doesn’t have the necessary skills or experience to undertake a specialised survey. Very often, several months or even a few years after such “surveys” are carried out, we receive inquiries from insurance companies who ask: “on the grounds of submitted pictures, are you able to tell us what was the smell of cargo or what was its temperature or humidity levels…”? In most cases issuing an objective and complete opinion is simply unrealistic.

We believe that a surveyor should be curious, attentive, reliable, timely, and objective. They must be able to communicate the most technical aspects clearly. They should also have a strong work ethic and a wide professional network.

A surveyor that is known for these qualities will provide the best service an insurance company needs to adjust and manage their claims portfolio. In addition, a great surveyor will act as a deterrent in the case of potentially fraudulent claims. We experienced in the past that at the time of the surveyor’s arrival at the place of inspection, the allegedly damaged cargo was either unavailable or in good order, and the claimant would suddenly withdraw their claim.

In addition to potentially fraudulent claims, we have come across a concerning situation in Poland in that the person acting as the surveyor is also the salvage buyer. In such situations the surveyor agrees to carry out an inspection almost free of charge, because they will sell the cargo to themselves very cheaply after appraising it. This is not only dubious from a moral point of view, it is also not in line with the local law and should be pursued as a crime. Such situations can cause a loss of trust in our industry’s professionalism and objectivity.

Fortunately, in our role as Lloyd’s Agent in Poland, we must display the highest level of technical knowledge and provide impeccable objective conclusions. Lloyd’s Agents are asked to pass demanding exams, organised by the Lloyd’s Agency. These exams cover the standards of the surveyor’s role, including conflict of interests or anti-corruption policy. They also cover the technical aspects of the job, the importance of effective report writing, and how to adjust a claim or undertake recovery action on behalf of underwriters.

Being part of a network is also a clear advantage to us. It allows us to use the same standards of working as other Agents, which guarantees that the claim handling is at the highest level. Lloyd’s Agents are therefore able to cooperate actively where the distance or the volume of work demands it.

As a surveying company, we deal with insurance companies daily. We consistently strive to ensure that the use of experts strongly contributes to the underwriting outturn and minimises the claims expenditure. It would be difficult for us to imagine the smooth operation of insurance without the existence of excellent surveyors – the eyes and ears of insurers.