In an economy that has ravaged aviation, one stable segment is the insurance industry, but change is coming. “Nobody knows what [the future is] going to look like,” an industry expert told AIN.
To better understand insurance it helps to understand what it really is. The historical foundation of insurance is that disaster can strike anyone, at any time. The concept of insurance is the good fortune of many helping provide for the bad fortune of a few.
There was no such thing as aviation insurance when Shakespeare penned, in Henry VI, “The first thing we do, let’s kill all the lawyers.” If there had been, the quote might have been a bit longer, according to many in the industry. Next to lawyers, everyone loves to hate insurance agents and underwriters.
With the country in mourning for the tremendous loss of life from the terrorist attacks, the financial loss seemed to pale by comparison. But as Americans began to recover from the initial shock, the economic concerns loomed darker, and the insurance industry was among the first to feel the fiscal effects. It was also one of the first to put measures into effect to minimize losses and recover from the economic blow.
Travelers Aviation, part of The Travelers insurance company, made its debut at the 2007 AIA convention at Indian Wells, Calif. This year in Nashville, Gordon Murray, its president, told AIN that in the past year Travelers has booked premiums in the millions of dollars and continues to look for opportunities. “The marketplace out there is competitive.
Despite the economic uncertainty in the U.S. and abroad, the mood was decidedly upbeat at the Aviation Insurance Association (AIA) convention April 26 to 29 at
the Gaylord Opryland resort in Nashville. In fact, due in part to the downturn in financial circles, aviation insurance–a truly worldwide industry–has been experiencing a mini-boom that is benefiting the insured, large and small.
With regard to liability insurance, answers to the question of “How much is enough?” have always been something of a mystery. But for shareholders in a fractional program, the answers are compounded by the concept of shared ownership.
Aviation insurance rates can be affected by the vagaries of the stock and investment markets, insurance claims unrelated to the aviation industry and historic peaks and valleys in policy pricing. And further cost pressures are added because the number of aviation insurers continues to decrease.
Following last September 11, aircraft owners and operators began bracing for massive hikes in insurance coverage and changes in the limits of that coverage. Now, a year later, their fears are being realized. But while rates have risen, sometimes triple those before September 11, the increases are not without some justification. The question is, just how much is justified?
“In the next 60 to 90 days, you’re going to see security in the United States like you’ve never seen before,” said retired U.S. Navy admiral Isaac Richardson in late June. “A portion of the nation’s reappraisal took a very hard look at general aviation…and the threat posed by general aviation aircraft as weapons.”