Aviation Insurance Considerations

Some thoughts on insuring your Moth.

Hull insurance is not compulsory but Third Party Liability Insurance is, and the minimum level of cover is dictated by legislation which an insurance broker will explain.

DETERMINING THE FINANCIAL PARAMETERS OF INSURANCE TO BE PURCHASED

Aircraft Value - this to reflect market value/purchase price plus costs involved in seeking/obtaining a replacement aircraft of like time, condition and fit. Point to consider: an extra £1,000 of Hull cover may only cost a small additional sum per annum.

Liability Limits - are they sufficient to protect your estate and your passengers; do you undertake displays; do you require Crown Indemnity for MoD airfields; do they comfortably exceed the current EU-driven minimum Third Party levels when considering Rate of Exchange fluctuations? If in doubt check the CAA website ‘G-INFO’ for your aircraft. Watch out for Passenger Liability sub-limits which you would be wise not to accept; always buy a Combined Single Limit ('CSL').

Protecting your legacy (1) - should the insurance reflect any other interested parties in the aeroplane (eg. a company to which the aircraft is registered or the name of the flying group); any financial institutions involved with the aircraft; airport or maintenance organisations with whom you may have contracted?
(Beware of what you sign with regard to the latter.)

Protecting your legacy (2) - have you notified your Life Insurers of your flying, especially if undertaking displays or performing aerobatics? If they decline to accept this risk, approach a specialist aviation life insurance broker who can arrange life cover for pilots (they regularly advertise in the GA press) or, alternatively, investigate Pilot or Pilot-Seat Personal Accident Insurance for a suitable sum in the event of death or disablement.

Clean-up costs - getting the 'extras' thrown in to cover those post-accident costs, such as ‘Search & Rescue’ (SAR) expenses and damage to Third Party land caused by the rescue services attending an accident site on/off an airfield.

The Underwriter/insurer - also known as the Security. Beware of the 'Shifting Sands of Syria Insurance Co.’ Ask your broker who your Insurer/Underwriter is and where they hail from; the Broker has a duty to disclose. What is the Insurer's credit rating? It must be 'A' - or higher.

DETERMINING THE EXTENT OF COVERAGE DESIRED

Disclosure - items/information which you may consider irrelevant could be seen as very relevant to an insurer at the time of a loss. Many people who work in the aviation insurance industry have difficulty telling the difference between a 747 and a Hercules, least of all a Puss Moth and a Leopard Moth!

Uses - determine and disclose the exact 'Uses' to which the aircraft wit be put and advise your Broker/Insurer - eg. Air Racing, Aerobatics, Air Displays and even Charity Flights are considered 'non-standard uses' by some Insurers and subject to alternative underwriting criteria. If in doubt, always declare.

Pilots - decide between 'Named Pilots' only, or an ‘Open Pilot Clause’ (subject to a realistic minimum level of appropriate experience with which you are comfortable.) Provide accurate flying hours, details of ratings etc.

Geographics - area of operations. Most policies include UK/Europe at a minimum but, if you intend flying out of these areas, check with your Broker/Insurer that you are covered. Never assume! This refers back to Disclosure above.

Excess - known in the aviation insurance industry as a 'Deductible'. Perhaps consider accepting a higher amount of ‘deductible’ to lower your Hull rate, or a 'Franchise Deductible' which buys the deductible down to zero once the original level is breached. Liability Deductibles do not apply other than (maybe) in respect of baggage or personal effects.

Vehicle Airside or Premises Liability - get your Policy extended to include this useful add-on when using your vehicle airside and/or if working on your aircraft outside or inside a hangar.

Pilot personal effects - are your headset, removable radio or GPS etc, covered separately or considered part of the aircraft fixtures? Make sure they are all covered with this extension.

Other extras to consider or add - Forced Landing extension; use of unlicensed fields; 'Out of Hours' indemnity; Betterment on ‘lifed’ components (not offered by all Insurers); War risks coverage (includes arson, riots, civil commotions, terrorist actions, not just all out war!)

ITEMS OF SPECIALIST NOTE FOR THE OWNERS OF HISTORIC OR VINTAGE AIRCRAFT

Agreed value - always make sure you have this; if not you are back in the world of car insurance! Some Insurers will accept a value that is inflated to take into account rebuild costs - if you do not ask, you will not get!

Airshow participation - if you are undertaking air displays, is your coverage automatically extended to indemnify airshow organisers, etc? If it is not, be careful what you sign if you agree to taking part in an air display, as you may be signing away your Insurer's rights to which they may not take too kindly, and which may leave you unprotected after a claim.

Propeller swinging endorsements - if these are inserted read them carefully to make sure they protect your anticipated exposure to this risk and that you can also comply with any limitations they impose.

Broker experience - likewise with the Insurer, try and place your insurance through a Broker who clearly has knowledge of your type of aircraft. This comes to the fore in the event of an accident and, after all, that is why you buy insurance!

POST ACCIDENT ACTIONS. CONSIDERATIONS 1.

Initial - Secure the aircraft/occupants and contact emergency services; report the incident to the AAIB asap; take pictures of the site including panel instruments; do not allow any parts to be disposed of unless agreed with the loss adjusters; report the incident to your Broker.

Loss adjuster - Insurers will appoint a loss adjuster and possibly lawyers (if there are Third Party injuries/death/property damage.) Many loss adjusters have little or no knowledge of repairing wood and fabric aircraft or more esoteric designs; they may only have experience on modern all-metal or composite structures or airline equipment. Seek clarification as to their experience with your aircraft type before accepting them but please liaise courteously and honestly with all services.

Repairers - you could be asked to seek quotes for the repairs so always approach your preferred repairer and state as such to the loss adjuster. There is a good chance they will accept your repairer but make sure a number of genuine competing quotes are sought from alternative and reputable options. Ultimately though, it is the Insurer's decision, and not yours, as to the appointed party, but they will be keen that all parties are happy.

What is covered by insurance and what is not - do not assume the Insurer will pay for everything - question the loss adjuster and satisfy yourself about what is covered and what is not. For example: who Is liable for storage parking costs and for how long; what legal fees and expenses are covered?

The write-off – the worst-case scenario; who gets the salvage? Get that process clearly explained. Please also note that in the case of a write-off, your Policy is exhausted with regard to that particular aircraft.

Increased costs - your No Claims Bonus will also be lost; your insurance costs will likely increase; you may consider you have incurred additional costs following the accident such as for 'Loss of Use'.

Subrogation - if your Insurer considers that another party was at fault and negligently caused your accident, they may 'subrogate' against that party on your behalf to recoup their claim costs. Assist them as much as you can as it may mean your increased insurance costs (on renewal or new purchase) will be reduced if they are successful in this subrogation action.

POST ACCIDENT ACTIONS. CONSIDERATIONS 2.

IF IT MIGHT GET LEGAL....

Accident statement - if you have to make statements to the authorities eg. to the AAIB or CAA, or to your Brokers/Insurers, make sure good copies and notes are kept of such statements, letters, meetings, text and telephone conversations.

Mandatory Occurrence Reports (MORs) - fulfil all reporting obligations. This is also useful for the wider GA world to learn any lessons from your accident for the future safety of flight.

Files - keep a file of everything relating to the accident as you never know when it may be called upon in investigations or future actions.

Emails/Letters/Telephone calls/Texts - do not ignore contact from AAIB, CAA or the loss adjuster. Respond in a timely fashion. If asked by the CAA for a statement/interview, consider taking legal advice before supplying it.

Appoint a lawyer - if you consider you are out of your depth or have a problem with any way in which the investigation or the aftermath is developing, appoint your own, suitably qualified, aviation lawyer at an early stage, in preference to a generalist High Street lawyer who is also likely to be out of their depth!

Media - simple; beware of the media! Consult before making any comment to any media outlet, however well-intentioned they may seem to be.

Please note: the foregoing notes are considered to be a general guide to assist members of the de Havilland Moth Club seeking insurance for their aircraft. They are not to be considered exhaustive or full and complete instructions. The authors and the de Havilland Moth Club Ltd, bear no responsibility for any errors or omissions in this document and stress the need for the Member(s) to employ a reputable Aviation Insurance Broker or legal advisor with respect to all their aviation insurance and legal requirements.