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Newsletter 2 Quarter 2013

Celebrating 50 Years of Hope

Not many independent, family owned businesses can claim 50 years of success.  We celebrated this milestone anniversary by hosting a hangar party in our home city of Columbia, South Carolina.  Over fifty underwriters (from the fifteen insurance companies that write policies for our clients) attended the event.  Some flew in from as far as New York and California– a testimony to the professional reputation of Hope Aviation Insurance. 

Part of the purpose of the hangar party was to introduce the underwriters to our full staff– to put faces to names.  The brokers are the face of Hope Aviation, and most underwriters have long-standing relationships with our brokers.  Of course, there’s also a team of folks behind the scenes who help make all the magic happen and who regularly interact with underwriters via phone and email.  The hangar party was an opportunity to strengthen working relationships by spending a little time with one another over pulled pork barbecue, a few rounds of corn hole, and a delightful bluegrass band.  

See the people who will carry Hope Aviation into the next 50 years! 

From left to right, our behind-the-scenes staff:  Jessica Leask, Sam Hayford, Emily Thompson, Kelli Feathers, Kristie Patrick, and Kristen Hamilton.

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Two’s a Crowd… Can two pilots be one too many?

By Stuart Hope, as published in World Aircraft Sales Magazine, March 2013

If your aircraft is approved for single-pilot operations and your insurance carrier is unaware that your company is using a copilot, Stuart Hope advises extreme caution.

Second in Command (SIC) pilots flying aircraft certified for single-pilot operations present a situation that warrants special consideration regarding insurance coverage.  Since many popular business aircraft, such as most turbo-props and several light jets, fall into this category, Board Members should determine that the corporation they govern is not at risk.

For example, your company owns a King Air or Single-Pilot Citation that is flown by a well- qualified aviator who completes simulator-based training appropriate to the aircraft every year. The pilot is listed on the insurance policy as approved to operate the aircraft.  For certain trips, such as flights into high-density traffic areas or where adverse weather is forecast, or for any reason whatsoever, your director of flight operations  may elect to utilize a co-pilot.  This is certainly sound risk management strategy.king air c90

In aircraft that require two pilots, the insurance policy will stipulate the aircraft must be operated by a two-pilot crew consisting of an approved Pilot-in-Command (PIC) and SIC.  In general, the insurer’s policy states that both of these primary pilots engage in recurrent training appropriate to their flight duties at an approved ground and flight school for this aircraft every 12 months. It is not unusual for the PIC and SIC to switch seats and alternate serving as the pilot handing the flight controls on every other leg.  Thus it makes sense that both pilots receive recurrent training.

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READ THE POLICY

Let’s look at how an insurance policy for an aircraft certified for single-pilot operation might be worded.  Typically the phraseology reads as follows:

“It is a condition of this insurance that when in flight, the aircraft will be operated only by pilot(s) specified below:

Named pilot:  John Smith, or any pilot who holds a Commercial Pilot Certificate or higher certification with Multi-Engine and Instrument Ratings, is type rated in the make and model aircraft operated and has a minimum of the following hours of flight as recorded in his/her logbook.5,000 Total Logged Flying Hours 2,500 Hours in Multi-Engine Aircraft 500 Hours in Turboprop or Turbofan powered aircraft 100 Hours in the Make and Model aircraft operated. It is further required that such pilot(s) must have successfully completed a motion-based simulator training course specifically designed for the make and model aircraft operated within the preceding 12 months of policy inception and annually thereafter.”

You can quickly see that an owner of a single-pilot certified aircraft using an SIC can get out of bounds on coverage if the specific terms of the policy are not properly addressed.

In the event of an accident, the insurer will try to determine who actually was operating the controls of the aircraft at the time of the accident.   Then the insurer will examine the terms of the policy to determine if that pilot was approved.   If not, a claim denial is a real possibility.

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POSSIBLE SCENARIO

An owner of an aircraft certified for single-pilot operation uses a SIC even though a second pilot is not required. The approved pilot-in command allows the SIC to operate the aircraft from the left seat, while the approved PIC occupies the right seat. (Note: The PIC’s cockpit location is specified during certification as the left seat; the SIC’s the right seat.)  The aircraft is landing in a rain shower and the aircraft hydroplanes, skidding off the runway causing substantial damage. During the adjusters investigation, one of the passengers comments the last thing he remembers is the SIC in the left seat landing the aircraft (or manipulating the controls).  If this piloting arrangement has not been approved by the insurer PRIOR to the loss, the owner—your company– may be facing this claim on its own.

The situation of pilots swapping seats seems to go on all the time, often for good reasons.

The PIC wants to help a young pilot advance and get some “time” in a turbo-prop or jet. Perhaps the aircraft owner or company executive is a pilot and wants to fly while his high-time employed pilot occupies the SIC seat next to him.

Often clients are under the impression that the scenario described here is perfectly acceptable because, in the event of a loss, their primary pilot listed on the policy will always be considered the PIC regardless of who was actually operating the aircraft. This might be how the FAA treats the situation but it is not the definition the insurance company uses, and their definition  is the one that counts when it comes to your coverage.

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REQUIRED ACTION

Even though the insured aircraft is certified for single-pilot operation, you are jeopardizing coverage unless the additional pilot has been added to the policy as an approved SIC. 

Call your broker, and be sure the insurance company agrees to the proposed crew arrangement. There are various strategies for seeking approval to use an SIC when one is not required.  It largely depends upon the pilot’s credentials and his or her role in the cockpit.  It is fairly easy to obtain approval for the SIC simply to sit in the right seat and handle the charts and radios.  Seeking approval for the SIC to operate the aircraft from the left or right seat may be more difficult if the pilot is not well qualified. In the latter case, there may be a requirement for the pilot to complete a ground and flight school prior to assuming his or her cockpit duties. Some insurance companies are more flexible than others, and of course your aviation insurance broker can help you navigate this situation.

If you weren’t already one of the informed, you are now aware of the issues involved.  There is simply too much at stake to assume coverage in the event of a loss. Call your broker and nail this down now so you don’t find yourself in the uncomfortable position of asking questions after a loss.

Noteworthy:

We’re now on LinkedIn! Follow our company page and connect with our staff.

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Broker Stuart Hope talks about why you must handle BOR letters with care in the latest issue of World Aircraft Sales Magazine.

stuart-sm“The Broker of Record (BOR) letter is one of the most powerful and abused documents in the industry.”

Read the full article here.



Broker Eric Barfield is quoted in a recent National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) article regarding new safety alerts issued by NTSB.  Eric currently serves as the Safety Committee Chair for NBAA.

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Read the full article here to find quick information on common safety hazards and practical remedies for those hazards.



Hope for the Future!

Nicholas Storey receives the 2013 academic scholarship for Risk Management and Insurance. 

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Nicholas Storey pictured here with broker Mena Hope-Gardiner.  (Photo credit JLA Photography.)

Hope Aviation Insurance, Inc., provides an annual scholarship to an undergraduate student studying Risk Management and Insurance at the University of South Carolina.  Stuart Hope, Sr., the founder of Hope Aviation Insurance, started the scholarship roughly 25 years ago after his three children (now brokers here at Hope) graduated from USC in the insurance program.  



Client Testimonial

“The team at Hope Aviation, especially Shannon Hope, is outstanding in every way. They are incredibly responsive and helpful and very well versed in the needs of those who own and operate aircraft for business as well as for personal use. They have been focused on balancing the best coverage with the best price for us, while getting to know us and our needs. By understanding our business and operations, they have identified areas of potential risk and helped us obtain the right coverage. Best of all, they are very easy to do business with and very quick to respond when we need assistance, truly going above and beyond to provide outstanding client service. Hope Aviation and Shannon Hope have my very highest recommendation.”

Submitted by Christopher Leonard, President of Velocity Solutions, Inc.