Whether soaring at 30,000 feet, performing a loop in an airshow, or gracefully landing after a bout of turbulence, airplanes are a powerful and impressive sight. They may be used to transport goods for a business, for CEOs to travel to annual meetings, or for quick travel back and forth from home and the office. Whatever their purpose, airplanes and helicopters require a substantial investment from their owners, and ongoing upkeep and maintenance. To safeguard their investment in a jet, helicopter, or other aircraft, individual and corporate owners should have dependable commercial aviation insurance coverage in place.
Whether they own a puddle jumper, a 737, or an executive jet, individuals and business owners with an airplane or helicopter should have it properly insured. The process of selecting adequate aviation insurance can prove challenging, but a licensed independent insurance agent, familiar with the factors that are important to consider in purchasing coverage, will guide airplane owners in finding the proper commercial insurance. Whether they want to add an aircraft to their existing business insurance policy, or buy new coverage, an independent commercial insurance agent will assist airplane owners in reviewing the available options for airplane insurance suited to own or their business’s unique needs.
What It Covers
Airplane accidents can happen for a variety of different reasons. Pilots aren’t perfect and mistakes can happen easily. Dealing with poor weather conditions, failure to recognize the potential for mechanical errors or equipment failures, a mistake by air traffic control, or a pilot’s poor health can all be factors. If there is a system failure, or a fluke incident, like a bird entering the engine, there’s only so much a pilot can do to prevent a crash. Other incidents affecting the aircraft and its passengers can happen while the plane is still on the ground. That’s why it is important to have the right coverage.
An aviation insurance package can cover a wide variety of liabilities. A commercial general liability policy can protect against physical damage and bodily injury to third-party individuals during the course of aviation operations. This also includes help to pay for any legal defense fees resulting from an FAA enforcement case, civil penalty, or certificate suspension/revocation. Of course, the incident must be covered under the terms of the insurance policy. There may be several exclusions to liability coverage, including alcohol-related incidents, disability benefits, intentional losses, and others.
On December 3, 2011, one of the most well-known third-party aircraft incidents occurred. Lauren Scruggs, a fashion blogger and model, accidentally walked into a still-spinning plane propeller. The sun had already set and it was raining, making it difficult for her to see the propeller. As a result, she lost both her left eye and left hand. The insurance company that covered the pilot and the plane offered her a claims payment based on the fact that she was a passenger of the aircraft prior to hitting the propeller. Scruggs disagreed with the insurer’s definition of the term “passenger” and settled out of court. However, the incident is a reminder that all pilots and aircraft owners should have liability insurance, should an accident occur.
If you own the building that houses your aircraft and those owned by other individuals, you should consider premises and operations insurance. This is also known as “slip, trip, and fall” insurance and is often included in general liability insurance packages. For example, if someone is walking around your airport or hanger and accidentally injures themselves by slipping on your newly mopped floor, you will be held liable for negligence. This coverage will help to pay for any medical bills arising from the incident.
While general liability protects against physical damage caused by third parties, hull insurance covers other incidents resulting in damage to the aircraft. The policy can either be written as named perils or all risks coverage, depending upon your preference and what the independent insurance agent suggests. It will also either insure the aircraft while it is in the air, traveling on the ground, and/or completely motionless. Like many auto insurance policies, it typically will not cover normal wear and tear to the plane. If the aircraft is a total loss, then the policy will cover the value of the aircraft when the policy began, minus the deductible.
In the course of meeting with an independent insurance agent, those who own an airplane should expect that the agent will request a tour of the aircraft, along with the hangar where it is parked or anchored. An independent agent will likely assess whether an airplane or helicopter is kept alongside other aircrafts, whether there are centrally monitored fire and security alarm systems at the premises, and who, besides an individual or business owner, has access to or control of a particular plane. Also, she will want to know about the original cost of a helicopter or plane, along with fuel expenses for typical flights, costs for maintenance and upkeep, and how often an aircraft is serviced, and the services performed.
To help airplane owners choose adequate coverage, an experienced independent insurance agent will likely ask about the typical usage of a plane or helicopter, along with its capacity, and usual travel and flight patterns. An agent may also inquire about how often a plane is inspected, whether oxygen masks, floatation devices, fire extinguishers, and other safety equipment is maintained inside an aircraft, and the licensing and disciplinary history of any and all pilots that operate a plane or helicopter.
Speak to an Agent
For business owners and individuals, alike, who want to know about their options when it comes to selecting the proper commercial aviation insurance, an independent insurance can serve as a valuable resource. By connecting with a seasoned independent business insurance agent, aircraft owners can get answers to their questions about buying coverage, or about specific parts of their aircraft that may require additional coverage, or an endorsement. With the help of a local independent insurance agent, aircraft owners know that they have the right commercial insurance to keep their airplane or helicopter covered.
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