AVIATION INSURANCE

Aviation Insurance was originally derived from Wet Marine insurance formats, and in many ways remains somewhat similar in nature. It, like its Marine ancestor, is written with unique terminology and forms. Few insurance carriers utilize the same format, nor wordings - this is not like Fire insurance at all. The definitions for Persons Covered or Insured differ markedly between policies, and there are warranty clauses unique to aviation: These include, but are not limited to, territory, pilots (both named, and unnamed under open pilot clauses), usage of the aircraft by specifically defined category, not to mention FAA "airworthy" considerations that also form a warranty. A breech of any one of these warranties will generally invalidate the coverage. Some policies set sub limits for classes of relatives who might be passengers in the aircraft, and for that matter certain aviation policies exhibit reduced limits per passenger seat for Bodily Injury. This can get quite complex if a policy is written with both sets of sub limits. Hull coverages (Yes, they are called that in aviation, reflecting their marine heritage), or first party coverages, are again unique in that different deductibles may apply while the aircraft is in motion or not. For that matter, even the "in motion" definitions often differ between insurance carriers.

Because of the relatively low number of aircraft insured, few general insurance brokers and agents are sufficiently knowledgeable in aviation insurance to properly advise their customers. While some agents and brokers refer their aviation customers to specialty brokerages, many do not, and all too often this leads to confusion and misinformation at best, and disaster to the "Insured" (and even the public) at worst. Even most aviation specialty brokers (who sometimes act as middle level wholesalers) generally place coverages with another class of brokers, who, while usually working under Surplus Lines licenses, are in reality, Managing General Agents for either single carriers or for "pools" composed of a number of carriers. An application may sometimes wend its way upward through three or four levels of agents or brokers before the policy is issued. It is obvious that there is a great potential here for warranted information to go astray (as it so often does). Of course there are Direct Writers, and some pilots and aircraft owners place their coverages through such entities. If the professionals in the field have such a poor grasp of the nuances of aviation insurance, one can only speculate as to how many persons utilizing the Direct Writers actually understand their coverages, their options, and perhaps more importantly, their obligations.

Satori's President and owner, Bennett Bibel, is a long time experienced, instrument rated, commercially licensed pilot (land and sea) who has owned aircraft for many years. His own brokerage acted as broker for many classes of aviation insurance, including both private and commercial operations, as well as fixed base operators. He not only understands the aviation insurance field from the standpoints of a pilot / aircraft owner, and an insurance broker, but also as a recognized expert witness in aviation matters. In fact, he has appeared before the National Transportation and Safety Board as an expert witness in aerodynamics. He has acted as a consultant or expert witness in a number of aviation cases ranging from sensational news media covered helicopter crashes, to "hit and run" aircraft collisions (on the ground, fortunately).

Revision Date: February 03, 2012