Aviation Insurance Resources (AIR) Agents Cannot be Replicated

November 21st, 2017

“Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery that mediocrity can pay to greatness.”

― Oscar Wilde

Time and time again, Aviation Insurance Resources (AIR) spots something familiar in competitors’ ads. Our slogans, premium comparison marketing campaigns, and even our company name have been replicated in print. These copycat trends continue to prove one fact: AIR is the aviation insurance broker to watch.

After 17 years with direct aviation insurance writer, Avemco, Jon Harden founded AIR in 1999. Based on a foundation of providing service with integrity for pilots, by pilots; AIR was and always will be comprised of agents that intimately know the aviation industry. Every agent at AIR is a pilot and many have owned their own aircraft.

Jon Harden – the founder of AIR is a Certified Instrument Flight Instructor (CFII) and currently owns a Pitts S1 and a Cessna 180. Last summer his daughter became a pilot as well.

Chris Wolbert – an Embry Riddle graduate, Chris is a commercial and multi engine rated pilot. He’s been flying since 1990 and is one of the founders of AIR.

Gregg Ellsworth – has been a private pilot since the 70s. He is also an Embry Riddle graduate with an aviation management degree.

Jon Shimer – an A&P and private pilot with instrument and multi engine ratings, Jon has flown over 65 different models of aircraft. He has owned a Pitts Special and a J-3 Cub. He also performs with the Alabama Boys airshow act.

John Sweeney – learned to fly at Winged Spartans Flying Club of Michigan State University in 1969 and is a CFI. He has 37 years of experience in the aviation insurance industry and his first insurance job was as an aviation claims adjuster.

Victoria Neuville – an instrument rated commercial pilot, Victoria’s spare time is also centered around aviation. She can be found promoting her children’s book series, Turbo the Flying Dog and co-hosting the Stuck Mic AvCast aviation podcast.

Patrick Smith – Patrick is AIR’s only lighter-than-air pilot and commercial CFII. When the sun rises and sets, Patrick is busy flying with his hot air balloon business, Tailwinds Over Frederick.

Joe Ruck – firefighter turned pilot, Joe is also a CFI. He looks forward to being able to sign off his three great nephews and two grandsons for their first solos one day.

Joe Cacho – a private pilot, Joe joined the original members of the AIR team in 1999. He is also an Embry Riddle graduate and favorite place to fly is in the Florida Keys.

Bill Snead – the newest agent at AIR is not by any means new to the business. With over 35 years of aviation insurance experience, Bill is a commercial pilot and flies gliders.

As you can see in each short biography above, every pilot at AIR brings unique aviation experience to the table. This group of aviation insurance agents simply cannot be replicated. The next time you see an aviation insurance ad, think twice if it is unique, or simply mimicking something greater.

Serving our fellow pilots for over 18 years, AIR understands the budgeting needs of aircraft owners and aviation business operators. We shop all the major aviation insurance markets to provide the broadest coverage at the lowest rates. Call Aviation Insurance Resources (AIR) at 301-682-6200 or complete an online quote request to start saving today!

 

Chelsea Gets into the AIR thanks to Scholarship

November 14th, 2017

Over the summer, Aviation Insurance Resources (AIR) awarded their annual Get into the AIR scholarships to two inspiring female pilots. Today, we are checking in with Chelsea Dorman. CChelsea 1st lessonhelsea is currently the program coordinator at the College Park Aviation Museum. She guides young aviators daily on tours and activities all about aviation at the oldest continuously operating airport in the world. Now, she finally is taking to the skies herself.

Thanks to the Get into the AIR Scholarship, Chelsea has started lessons out of Potomac Airfield in Friendly, MD. With the skyline of Washington D.C. in the distance and the traffic from National above her, Chelsea’s lessons have focused on the importance of awareness of the airspace around her.

Her flight instructor is a friend which makes for a comfortable and fun learning environment. Chelsea says that her taxiing still takes some work, however, is getting more confident in the air after each lesson. “There’s so much to cover, but I feel like I’m making good headway,” she explained.

Since 1999, AIR has remained closely connected to the industry they serve, many of their customers are friends and some are even family. This is because all the agents at AIR are pilots and understand the needs and challenges in owning or renting an aircraft and aviation related businesses. No matter your involvement in aviation, AIR can provide a comprehensive yet economical solution for your needs. For updates on future scholarships or an aircraft insurance quote call 877-247-7767 or fill out a quote request online today!

Compare Rates & Save on Aircraft Insurance

October 20th, 2017

A simple internet search will lead to a plethora of websites ready to compare rates from vacations to hotels and insurance. Almost anyone can easily identify Flo from Progressive Insurance, that cheery face advertising the one-stop insurance shop for auto and home insurance. Today, it has never been easier to compare and ensure you are getting the best bang for your buck…and that includes aircraft insurance!

The cheery faces at Aviation Insurance Resources (AIR) may be a bit different from Flo’s. You may see them with windblown hair following an open cockpit airplane flight or losing their voice after running an outreach event at a local airport. But what they have in common with this fictional insurance agent is that they compare rates to obtain the best rate and the broadest coverage on your aircraft insurance!

To do this, AIR shops all the major aviation insurance markets. They work closely with aviation underwriters and know the ins and outs of owning or renting an aircraft because they are pilots themselves! As an example, AIR can save a pilot up to 50% on their aircraft insurance and 6% on renter’s insurance when compared to the only aviation insurance direct writer, Avemco.

Do yourself a favor and start saving money on your aircraft insurance. An online quote request is just a click away. Or call 301-682-6200 to start talking to an aviation insurance specialist at AIR today.

Essex Flying Club Increases Pilot Population

October 11th, 2017

In 2015 Essex Flying Club was formed to provide “ready access to the aircraft, camaraderie, and more affordable flying to all members”. This 10-member club based out of Essex Skypark Airport inEssex
Baltimore, MD currently holds the record as the most active aircraft at the airport. The vintage Cessna 172 Skyhawk has since seen many “firsts” from solos, to check rides and flyouts.

Pilots Dean Frail and Claudius Klimt designed the club to decrease the cost of flying and to increase the number of pilots at Essex Skypark. The emphasis is on competent flying. The one-time entry cost is only $600 with a $95/hour wet tach time. Members pay for 2.5 hrs per month, use it or loose it. This non-profit club’s Cessna Skyhawk is managed by volunteers and maintained by a superb mechanic.

Recently, the club was renamed to The Max Lichty Essex Flying Club in honor of Max Lichty, a 10,000-hour pilot and chief pilot at the flying club. The longtime resident of Essex Skypark was a passionate supporter of the flying club. Max lost his battle to cancer earlier this year and the members decided this was the best way to honor a great pilot and friend.

As the list grows for the upgrades and repairs on their aircraft, so does the number of new private pilots the club has graduated.  The plan is to continue for years to come. The Max Lichty Essex Flying Club thanks Aviation Insurance Resources (AIR) for its role in keeping flying affordable at Essex Skypark. AIR shopped all the aviation insurance markets to ensure this new club was receiving the best rates at the broadest possible coverage.

To learn more about The Max Lichty Essex Flying Club visit: http://www.essexflyingclub.org/.

Looking for an insurance quote for your flying club? Call 301-682-6200 to talk to one of our knowledgeable pilots and agents or request a quote online today!

Despite Irma, Airport Revs up for Annual Expo

October 4th, 2017

Despite the hurricane scare, DeLand Municipal Airport is going strong and ready to welcome pilots from all over to the annual DeLand Sport Aviation Showcase! From November 2nd through 4th, 2017 exhibitors and speakers will gather to offer a weekend of aviation education and fun.

Since its inception, Aviation Insurance Resources (AIR) has had a presence at this sport aviation show. In fact, AIR was a factor in leading the aviation insurance industry to provide competitive policies for this relatively new class of aircraft. Agents and pilots Gregg Ellsworth, Joe Cacho, Joe Ruck, and Jon Harden will be available at booth number 308 to answer your questions on sport planes as well as other aviation insurance matters.

“DeLand has always offered a special showcase. As a former trike pilot, I’m particularly interested in viewing the new trikes on the market today. From small weight shift aircraft to large jets, we insure all things aviation related. We look forward to these events to see how we can be of service to the aviation industry,” explained Jon Harden, president and founder of AIR.

No matter your reason for attending, the Deland Sport Aviation Showcase promises to offer something for everybody. For more information on the showcase visit: http://www.sportaviationshowcase.com. Can’t wait for the showcase and want your aviation insurance questions answered today? Call AIR at 301-682-6200 or apply for a quote online today!DeLandBoothBadge_308

First Flight Insurance Solutions

September 25th, 2017

Over a thousand hours of build time has gone into your aircraft. Many late nights out at the hangar and several seasons have passed, but the big day is finally here. Your pride and joy, your biggest accomplishment, is about to take its inaugural flight. Despite all your cross checks and due diligence, the nagging question is still in the back of your mind. Could something go wrong?

Many pilots mistakenly believe that there are no options for insurance coverage during the fly-off stage and settle for sub-par 3rd party liability programs. These programs do not include hull coverage, are limited in their available defense, have low property damage limits, and outdated bodily injury terms. While these programs are often the only option for non-registered aircraft, real aviation markets offer the best coverage for the majority of homebuilt aircraft.

From RVs to the Sonex, whether you’ve built a SeaRey or a Glasair, Aviation Insurance Resources (AIR) has your first flight solution. AIR works with all the aviation insurance markets, therefore, offering many options for insuring your first flight risk. Your AIR agent will go over with you the terms of each option for the fly-off stage of flight. A majority of these policies include hull coverage and industry standard liability limits.

AIR also offers a builders and restorers insurance program, designed to protect the aircraft during the building or restoring stage regardless of pilot experience and qualifications. Customized with your needs in mind, this new insurance plan offers flexible liability and hull coverage options.

“As a friend of many aircraft builders and as a homebuilt owner myself, I cannot imagine the devastation of losing an aircraft after hundreds of hours of work,” said Jon Harden, president and founder of AIR. “Our affordable program is worth it just for the peace of mind.”

Peace of mind is exactly what the agents and pilots provide at Aviation Insurance Resources. So, before you weld another joint or place another rivet, contact the pilots and agents at AIR! Call 877-247-7767 or submit a quote online today!

Aircraft Insurance – A look back

September 18th, 2017

18 years ago, the aviation insurance industry looked quite different. Besides insurance direct writer, Avemco, only eight other companies offered aircraft insurance.  To gain access to these companies, a pilot must go through an aviation insurance broker. Since the 90s, the aviation insurance industry has grown considerably. There are now 18 aircraft insurance carriers vying for a pilot’s business. Competition is fueling the rates and premiums are lower than ever, therefore benefiting the consumer.

In 1999 a new aviation insurance broker came on the scene: Aviation Insurance Resources (AIR). Established by former Avemco employees, these pilots set out to create an aviation insurance brokerage that provided the best rates and the broadest coverage for their clients.  This was a period of high premiums, strict training requirements, and transition pilots were near impossible to insure. However, AIR was appointed with all the aviation markets, offering their customers all the available options in the industry.

Today, new aircraft insurance policies have been developed including the LSA class and Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs). Within the past decade insurance carriers have improved and enhanced their policies to maintain customer loyalty. Policies have since been written in a much broader language, training requirements are more lenient, higher liability limits are available, and transition pilots are easier to insure at the right price-point. AIR has been at the forefront of all these changes and passing along the savings to their insureds.

Soon AIR will be celebrating their 20th anniversary. Many of their insureds have been with them since day one and many other pilots are constantly discovering the benefits of calling these aviation insurance specialists. The pilots and agents at AIR focus on integrity and place customer service as a priority above profit. To have an agent start shopping all the markets on your aviation insurance policy call AIR at 301-682-6200 today!

Winners Tied: Two Aviation Scholarships Awarded

July 24th, 2017

Oshkosh, WI June 24, 2017 – Leading aircraft insurance broker, Aviation Insurance Resources (AIR), announced today the results of the 2nd annual “Get into the AIR” aviation scholarship. AIR received applications from pilots and student pilots from all walks of life, each with remarkable stories. Only one scholarship was slated for 2017, however, two very deserving individuals stood out prompting AIR to reward two scholarships this year.

Fascinated by aircraft from the World War II era since an early age, student pilot Heather Geer plans to follow in the footsteps of her idols, the WASP (Women Airforce Service Pilots). To reach her dream of becoming a warbird pilot, she plans to gain hours and experience by becoming a tailwheel instructor. Heather plans to complete her private pilot certificate by this October. In her spare time she can be found volunteering with the Bravo 369 Foundation, a non-profit focused on STEM education, aviation history and aircraft preservation.

Heather Geer

Get into the AIR Scholarship – Heather Geer

For the last decade, Chelsea Dorman could be found at the oldest continuously operating airport in the world, College Park Airport, guiding future young aviators on the history of aviation. As the College Park Airport Museum’s program coordinator, she has overseen many aviation centric events from lecture programs, to happy hours and community outreach. With the help of the Get into the AIR scholarship and saving her earnings as a figure skating coach in the winter, Chelsea will soon be on her way to becoming a pilot herself!

Chelsea Dorman

Get into the Air Scholarship – Chelsea Dorman

Applicants were judged on essays and recommendations letters that best portrayed the pilot’s goals, drive, and commitment to the aviation industry. While competition was fierce, AIR could not be happier with rewarding these two dedicated individuals. The Get into the AIR aviation scholarship will be available again in 2018.

About Aviation Insurance Resources (AIR)

Since 1999, AIR has remained closely connected to the industry they serve, many of their customers are friends and some are even family. This is because all of the agents at AIR are pilots and understand the needs and challenges in owning or renting an aircraft and aviation related businesses. No matter your involvement in aviation, AIR can provide a comprehensive yet economical solution for your needs. For updates on future scholarships or an aircraft insurance quote call 877-247-7767 or fill out a quote request online today!

Simple Online Insurance Portal Now Available for Drone Operators

June 27th, 2017

In partnership with Global Aerospace, leading aircraft insurance broker Aviation Insurance Resources (AIR) recently launched their online UAS/Drone insurance portal. With multiple liability options as well as hull coverage and worldwide territory, the Global Aerospace policy offers flexibility and options for the commercial drone operator.

Sean Berry a commercial UAV pilot and Mavic Pro owner proclaimed that the online portal is “Super easy! Once I received my quote, I started coverage and paid for my policy on my cell phone; all while waiting for take-out on my lunch break.”

Berry continued by emphasizing the need for insuring his unmanned business, “The liability risk on UAV operators is not trivial! These are literally flying Cuisinarts. In a commercial setting you absolutely need drone insurance. In fact, the insurance pays for itself after a job or two.”

Always involved in the ever-changing aviation industry, AIR was one of the first aviation brokers to provide commercial drone insurance. All the agents at AIR are pilots and some are also Part 107 certified. Simply visit: https://www.air-pros.com/uav-form.php to submit your online quote or call 301-682-6200 to speak to an Unmanned Aerial Systems Insurance Specialist today!

About Global Aerospace

Global Aerospace is a leading provider of aerospace insurance with a worldwide portfolio of clients who are engaged in every aspect of the aviation and space industries. Headquartered in London, Global has offices in Canada, Cologne, Paris, Zurich and throughout the United States. With experience dating back to the 1920s, the company’s underwriting is backed by a pool of high quality insurance companies representing some of the most respected names in the business. For additional information about Global Aerospace, please visit www.global-aero.com

About Aviation Insurance Resources (AIR)

Aviation Insurance Resources (AIR) provides a full range of aircraft insurance and aviation insurance products to clients of all sizes. They represent all of the major aviation insurance markets so they can offer you the broadest package of protection at the best available rates. For more information visit: www.AIR-PROS.com or call 301-682-6200.

Up in Smoke

May 23rd, 2017

Originally posted in Cessna Pilot’s Association Magazine

By Guy R. Maher

Early this year, my 1956 310 was in the shop of my preferred maintenance facility, Iredell Aircare, Statesville, NC, for an annual inspection when the shop caught on fire. The plane was one of five lost due to extreme heat and smoke damage.

Miraculously, the fire never made it to the shop floor so the planes never actually caught on fire. The danger and added devastation that could have resulted if the fire had reached the floor and the airplanes is something all of us chose not to ponder too long. The fire crews did a terrific job of extinguishing the blaze without any injury.

The impact this event had on the long standing maintenance business is a story for another time. But I am happy to report that due to, in part, support from Iredell Aircare’s customers, friends, airport management, and efforts facilitated through organizations such as our very own Cessna Pilots Association (CPA), they will be remaining in business. And this was a huge relief to their many customers – myself included.

The owner/operators, Jones and Rachel Barnes, are of retirement age and this could have been their reason to call it quits. But that would have been a huge loss to the aviation community and a horrible way to end such a distinguished run.  This is not only because of their unmatched wealth of knowledge in maintaining GA aircraft – especially legacy airplanes – but for their equal level of kindness and caring for their customers.

The fire broke out on the afternoon of Saturday, January 7. My wife and I were enroute to Cancun, Mexico at the time on American Airlines and oblivious to what was going on. I didn’t learn of the fire until around 5 pm on the following Tuesday. My wife and I had just returned to our hotel from a day of SCUBA diving and this is what showed up in my email from the FBO manager:

Dear Guy:

On Saturday, Jones and Rachel’s hangar burned and N5267A was one of the five airplanes inside.  I am so sorry to interrupt your vacation with this news.  Jones and Rachel did not want to ruin your vacation, but I thought you might prefer to be in the know.  They have contacted their insurer and that process is underway.  Is there anyone we can notify on your behalf?

So sorry for the bad news.

Thomas

The fact that Jones and Rachel didn’t want me to know while away on vacation speaks volumes to the 19 year relationship I’ve enjoyed with them. They are good friends as well as service providers. Not only that, they knew how special that 310 was to me.

I am a die-hard classic Cessna 310 fan. This one was my second classic and the plane I expected to run out most of my remaining ownership clock with – the “keeper”. N5267A was at that stage of aircraft ownership we all strive for – incredibly reliable at dispatch – Start, Fly, Land, Repeat.

You just read about one such extended trip in the past two issues of this magazine. And if being on time to an appointment was critical, I always allowed an extra 15 minutes on the arrival because I’d usually have an instant reception on out of town ramps of pilots wanting to know more about this fully restored and updated plane.

The first thing I did was send a return email to the FBO thanking Thomas for letting me know. I then sent a combined email to both the FBO and my insurance broker Joe Ruck of Air-Pros [jruck@air-pros.com] to close that loop. Within 10 minutes I received this reply from Joe:

I will notify your insurance carrier and will have a claims adjuster assigned to this incident.  There is really nothing you can do from where you are, so my advice to you is to get a glass of wine, enjoy the sunset, and make the most of your vacation!

My wife and I took his advice. And upon returning home later that following Saturday, my voicemail had a message on it from the insurance claims adjuster, Jim Brewer, [Inflite Aviation International Adjusters, Denver, NC]. On Sunday we had a full plate of church and family activities to attend. But I did call Brewer, as well as Jones just to see how he was doing. He told me Brewer had already been out to the airport twice working on my claim.

It wasn’t until Monday that I finally made it out to the airport to see the aftermath. What a terrible mess. Jones walked me through the dark hangar that looked and smelled like metallic death. The thick, corrosive smoke and over 1,600 degree heat sealed the fate of these five planes – my 310, a Piper Comanche, a Cessna 177RG, a Cessna 414, and a Grumman Tiger.

Seeing these planes – especially my 310 – gave me more of a numb feeling than anything else. The heat had been so intense you could see how the tempered metal skin caved between the ribs and stringers and the windows melted or bubbled. The corrosive nature of the smoke was something I had never seen before. My engines looked like they had thick crystals growing on the cylinders. Tools looked like they had been on a salt water boat dock for a year.

It was clear these planes were a total loss. Brewer and I met a few days later to get me into the claims loop. He had some forms for me to fill out and we set up a follow-up time for when we’d meet to finish my part of the process – providing the signed forms, a signed bill of sale, and all the aircraft records.

Brewer has been at this for decades. He told me that my claim was about as cut and dried as it gets. He could tell from what he saw, as well as from the records, that the 310 was well cared for. He loves airplanes and it showed.

In the first week or so after the fire, I was reminded of just how much the aviation community cares about other owners and pilots – even those they don’t know – and especially if they are a part of an owners group like CPA. Here are a few examples of the tone of most of the posts and emails I received:

I can tell that this was more than just “an airplane”. You poured your heart and soul into making it one of the nicest “Classic 310s” around. This was your passion; your pride and joy. It was a thing of beauty. I’m sorry for your loss.

Guy, so sorry to hear this. I can’t imagine how terrible you must be feeling after having this happen to your pride and joy. It was such gorgeous airplane. I hope that in the future you are able to find another plane that in all respects is as good or better than the beautiful plane you had.  If anyone can find one it’s you.

For those of us who love these airplanes, they are like living beings…and it has to be horrifying to get that kind of news.  Here’s hoping you’re able to create some new memories with a new “baby”.

I received some posts and emails where I was gently asked if there were any salvage possibilities from my plane or what I planned to do next, but only when I felt ready to talk about it. I was being treated as if I had lost a relative or a beloved pet. To some of us, I guess, we hold our planes more dear than even some relatives! I assured them that I was fine and no question was off limits.

Another big question posed to me was how I would fare on insurance. I quickly knew I would be just fine. Here’s where the value of a good broker – who actually works for the client, gives solid advice, and jumps right in when there is a problem – can’t be overstated. This is because your broker is the hub of the team. Joe placed me with Hallmark Insurance Company through Hallmark’s agent, Aerospace Insurance Managers, Inc.

In my case, I had a check on the 27th day following the fire. There were a number of “make sense” required steps involved and Brewer kept me informed every step of the way. I couldn’t have been more pleased at how I was treated throughout the entire process – and with its resolve.

My policy was written – as are most aircraft policies these days – with a stated value. This means that what the owner has stated or requested to be the value he wants to insure the plane for – and is accepted by the underwriter – will be what the underwriter pays the owner [less deductible, if any] if it’s a total loss.

My 310 was insured at about the top of the scale for a plane of this vintage and roughly 50% more than most classic 310’s in similar condition. And in all truth, that was about 50% more than I could have sold it for. And yet, I was able to insure it for that amount. How? By taking the right steps through a broker who knows how to advocate for a client, and with an underwriter who knows how to balance the market with client needs.

Here’s what I did correctly: [1] When I bought the plane I determined through my own appraisal, as well as general research, what it would take to replace it versus what I paid. The replacement value was higher than my purchase price so that’s what I asked my broker to use for my initial quote. [2] In that request, I provided the broker with a detailed description of the plane, times, equipment list, and general condition. Joe had no problem placing me with a good company at my requested “stated” value. That was five years ago.

Over the course of ownership, there were those times when I put some considerable funds into the plane. Now, I’m not talking typical maintenance events, like extensive annuals or big repairs. I’m talking about those actions that actually add market value to the plane. These can be items such as new avionics, overhauled engines, new paint and/or interior, etc.

Prior to each one of these events, I reached out to Joe, told him what I was planning to do, and what I expected to need in added stated value. He then went to the underwriter to verify this would be acceptable and what it would cost. As soon as the work was done, we’d initiate the policy change and I’d pay the pro-rata rate for the rest of my policy term.

This emphasizes a couple of points that many owners I talked to as a result of the fire were not aware of. First, aircraft insurance is usually stated value – not the cash value as is with most auto policies. I had a few owners who were taken by surprise at this. Possibly because cash value policies for aircraft are still available. But they are far from the norm.

Second, you can get a stated value that’s higher than average “market” value so long as you can show why it’s higher. And third, you can – and should – update your stated aircraft value when it happens rather than waiting until your policy renewal.

Some may question why I would insure my 310 for considerably over current market value. Here’s why; we purchase insurance to make us as financially whole as we can on the airplane loss, and protect us from liability suits.

When I updated my 310, I was well aware that I was putting more money into the plane than I’d never see on resale. But just because I was willing to invest what I needed and take a paper loss on resale doesn’t mean I was willing to risk that investment should the plane be taken away from me. I lost 67A on an unplanned time schedule – not mine.

That’s why I was adamant about keeping up with my ongoing improvements that added value to the airplane. Brewer told me he had a long talk with the actual underwriter who originally wrote my policy, as well as signed off on the additions. He said I did it the right way, and the increases were well documented and justifiable and he had no problem upping the insured amount.

Some will say that my 310 was an “over insured” plane. And in that situation an underwriter can force you to repair a major damage event instead of declaring what you hoped would be a total loss. Yes, this could happen. But in my case, I wasn’t “over insured”. I insured the plane for my real cash investment.  And I would rather trust that I will get a proper quality repair if it isn’t totaled, than suffer a huge financial loss if it is totaled.

Conversely, if you under insure – declare a stated value of $50,000 on an $80,000 investment for example – to save a few hundred bucks on annual premium and the plane sustains enough damage, the odds are incredibly high that the adjuster will total the plane, sell off the salvage and leave you $30,000 down.

I’ve had owners tell me that when they did major upgrades, such as paint and interior or a big avionics purchase, that their broker told them, “You’ll never get them to approve that increase.” My first question to the broker would be, “So you are saying you’re not willing to ask?”

I know if I wasn’t happy with the service of a lazy broker – pretending to know what an underwriter would say instead of checking – I’d certainly switch brokers. Under certain circumstances, an owner may be maxed out on insurable value – especially if he incorrectly over insured to begin with. The best time to check into all of this is before you make the big upgrade purchase – not after.

An owner relayed this story to me about insurance on his 310,

“I tried to get mine increased to $150,000 after some avionics upgrades.  They refused to up it at all.  Then I asked – ‘what if I had just put new engines on it’ – nope, the initial value is all they would write.  So, I found a new insurance company.  I told them $150K – no problem.  I paid for the extra coverage.”

Besides properly insuring your airplane, the other critical factor is record keeping. I have pounded on this subject in these pages already. But it’s worth another pounding.

In the case of this fire, there were scores of customer logbooks under the care of this shop. Fortunately, Jones had the smarts to install a safe that resembled the massive bank safes you see on TV shows like Gunsmoke. And still, the fire was so intense that it destroyed the lock tumblers and the safe had to be cut to gain access. All the logbooks were intact, with some sustaining a little water and/or smoke damage.

It boggles my mind when I receive airplanes to sell, or examine them as a buyer’s agent to discover that the original logs that came with the plane are the only logs. There are no copies, no digital scans – nothing! I know of many owners who just faithfully – and blindly – turn over their logs to their favorite shop and never look at them again during the course of their ownership. And this even includes not examining them after maintenance actions.

Not only is this not very bright, it’s also against the FAR’s in that you as the pilot in command are responsible for determining if the plane is fit to fly. How are you going to know this unless you check the logs for post maintenance endorsements, annual inspections, IFR certifications, etc.?

What if you have an accident and didn’t know your logs weren’t signed off properly? And then your adjuster asks you to prove the inspection as required by your policy. Now, I can tell you that the old days of aviation insurance companies looking for every way they can to deny or delay a claim are pretty much gone. But the fact is they still have to prove compliance with the terms of your policy.

As Brewer stated, “If the adjuster is looking for something, usually it’s to support the claim, not to delay or avoid the claim.” He added, “Be sure you have copies for anything you carry in the plane – including airworthiness and registration certificates.”

In the case of the fire, it was a little easier. But if the accident – like most of them – is a result of an in-flight operation gone wrong, then those logs are crucial to the claims process.

There’s another reason why the logs are so important.  Because my logs were so complete and detailed – showing the level of care this plane received – my adjuster was able to sell the salvage for double what the plane would have brought had the logs been missing or marginal. And if you think, “What do I care, I got my money?” Remember that when the underwriters total up all the cash in versus cash out for the year, that bottom line goes directly to next year’s rate schedule. It affects us all.

So I adamantly suggest that you take a hard look at your logbook situation. Where are your logs right now? Are they detailed and complete? How much of an impact would it make on you if those logs were lost or destroyed right now? Do you have any back-ups? Can the back-ups be lost or destroyed?

My logs were complete and detailed. The originals were stored in a fire safe at my home. The current set was at the shop since my plane was in for an annual. I had a full digital set stored on my computer and the back-up drive I update each month. And finally, the full set of digital logs were also stored in off-site cloud storage just in case my home-based originals and back-ups were destroyed.

If you must carry your aircraft logs in the plane – such as traveling to a favorite shop for an annual – that’s another big reason for having back-ups. It makes it very easy to prove your plane was in compliance with the reg’s.

You must consider the logs as a critical component of the plane. You wouldn’t come to a shop, accept the plane, pay the bill and fly off with a flap missing. The logs are just as important. Only when you are satisfied with the work, and the logs addressing the work are complete, should you pay the bill and fly home.

Insurance is the one product we buy but hope [along with the underwriter] that we never use. My plan was that I’d have 67A for many more years. I was willing to pay for that in investment versus final return when I was done. But I was not willing to take that loss if the plane was stripped away from me. I know those premium checks can feel hard to write at times. But unless you’re prepared to cover the loss yourself, consider the consequences before cutting your coverage.

So make sure you have the plane properly valued, insured, and documented – with back-ups. Do your homework first. Find a good broker and then keep him/her in the loop throughout the entire coverage year – not just at renewal time.

As a result of how I insured my plane, I came out financially whole and was able to move to the next airplane – a 1973 Cessna 310Q. And in the end, that’s all we can hope for from our underwriter in our effort to keep our flying dreams from going up in smoke.

Fire-8

 

 

Guy R. Maher is a dual-rated ATP/Commercial pilot and CFI for airplanes, helicopters, and instruments. He is an FAA FAASTeam member with nearly 17,000 hours – all civilian general aviation. He operates the aviation services company he founded – Lanier Media – specializing in aircraft sales and acquisitions, type-specific training, multi-media productions, and litigation support. Maher is also an NAAA certified aircraft appraiser and owns a 1973 Cessna 310Q. He can be contacted at laniermedia@gmail.com.