Firstly a marine survey report must really be treated as a one off, it can only reflect the condition of a boat on the day it was carried out. Even if the survey was just a few days old the vessel could have run aground the day before, which would never be reflected in the report and could end up a costly mistake.
Most reputable surveyors will be covered by an indemnity insurance, this protects them if for some reason there is a defect or condition that was missed at the time of the survey, so you have some redress in that scenario. But once the report is issued and the appointed surveyor has issue and invoice and it has been paid, the contract with them is ended. So there is no recourse if the problem is noticed at a later date.
The marine survey, should provide a list of recommendations that can range from structural defects to damaged rails and in some cases will recommend measurement of potential defects over a period of time, such as progressive problems with paint deterioration or osmosis, the signs of which can be noted but can get worse over a period of time.
There are always likely to be some aspects that the surveyor is unable to comment on, so it is important that they express what parts of the marine survey that they cannot include, so its important that any areas that are more difficult to access are opened or unscrewed so that the surveyor can get access and add details to the report. For example, if sole boards are screwed down then they will not be lifted. So a bit of forward planning is required to maximise the opportunity.
Choosing a marine surveyor can be a difficult process as the industry is largely unregulated, so unlike buying a car, some sales between private individuals can throw a lot of curve balls in the lifetime of the vessel.