Despite an estimated $535 million overage in aviation insurance claims this year stemming from the recent spate of foreign airline accidents (including two fatal crashes involving Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777s), Corporate Aviation Insurance Group president Matt Drummelsmith doesn’t expect any effect on insurance premiums for U.S.-based aircraft operators.
In the wake of recent airliner losses, carriers are bracing for substantial increases in insurance premiums when the main renewals season starts on November 1. Insurers have already made massive payouts for hull losses following the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 en route to Beijing and the apparent shooting down of MH17 over eastern Ukraine. Other recent losses have included the crash of Air Algerie’s flight AH5017 in southern Mali and TransAsia Airways flight GE222 in Taiwan. Further unsettling the risk environment for air transport have been recent attacks on airports in Pakistan, Israel, Afghanistan and Libya.
Last year marked another year of relatively soft rates in the general aviation insurance market, according to aviation insurance broker NationAir’s annual market analysis, released yesterday. “While the market conditions have remained the same for several years, the reasons for that soft market are changing,” noted company president Jeff Bauer.
Initially, increased market competition pushed rates down, he said. “Now, however, rates are being held down by the more long-term forces of structural overcapacity and, thankfully, favorable loss history.”
There has hardly been a better time to be a buyer of aviation insurance, as all signs point to a buyer’s market. Several factors are driving lower rates in this insurance segment, including fewer airline accidents, lower overall insurance claims, the economy, more underwriters entering the market, increased adoption of safety management systems and more sophisticated aircraft. AIN talked to David McKay, president and CEO of insurer USAIG, to get a better sense of this market. USAIG and McKay are here at the Paris Air Show supporting long-time customer Bombardier.
The Middle East Business Aviation Association (MEBAA) launched an aviation insurance group discount program for members on Tuesday at the Dubai Air Show.
Buyers of coverage for aircraft, aviation businesses and property have found a silver lining in the recession: relatively stable prices for insurance. Attendees at this year’s Aviation Insurance Association (AIA) conference confirm the news; too much available insurance capacity means that no underwriter has the power to raise prices.
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.
In the months since September 11, the insurance industry has taken a beating. Some estimates–and they are still just estimates–put the total losses in excess of $100 billion.
Within days of the terrorist attacks, it was apparent that efforts by insurers to cope with the disaster would translate to higher costs and changes in coverage limits. So far, this is being proved out.
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?
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