Compulsory liability insurance for gliders and powered aircraft

Liability insurance, Compulsory, Gliders, Powered aircraft

In May 2005 European regulation was introduced making it mandatory for all aircraft to meet minimum levels of liability insurance, something which was not compulsory in all areas of general aviation to that point.

The precise minimum amount of cover required is dependent upon two factors: how many people the aircraft can carry and the 'Maximum Take-Off Mass' (MTOM) of the aircraft. This is the maximum gross weight of the aircraft in any configuration. We would recommend all two seat gliders and motorgliders still have the B.G.A.'s previous mandatory limit of £2,000,000 combined liability cover and all single-seaters with MTOM 499kgs or less still have at least £1,000,000. In today's world you should also consider whether a higher limit of up to £2,000,000 might offer more peace of mind. Single-seaters of 500kgs or higher currently require nearer £1,500,000 of cover to comply with the European regulation. As this amount varies with the exchange rates we allow for any fluctuations in the requirement over time by offering £1,750,000 for those aircraft affected but again a higher limit of £2,000,000 is worth considering.

If you would like to discuss the limits required or the cost of increasing your liability limits please contact us.

Crown Indemnity Insurance

crown indemnity, insurance, aviation

This tends to be included on aviation policies as standard. The amount of cover under this clause would be at least up to the policy's main liability limit and it is a requirement for operation from certain airfields but what is it?

Crown indemnity insurance offers protection for the Crown under your policy in the event that they are sued in relation to an accident involving your aircraft.

Powered aircraft are usually required to have £7,500,000 of Crown indemnity cover while in most cases gliders and motorgliders need only have cover up to the normal liability limits of their policy. If you operate from an MOD site which requires a higher limit, contact your broker for a quotation for the higher amount.

Crop damage claims

field landing, crop, gliders

Arriving at short notice in a field, especially a poorly chosen field may result in damage to crops as well as your aircraft and the extent of such damage is not always obvious to the untrained eye. Typically there will be a few incidents a year when some of the crop in a field is lost or needs respraying which takes more labour, more chemicals or the further rental of specialised equipment etc.

In such cases the farmer may have a perfectly reasonable claim for the costs he would not have incurred had you not landed where you did. If the farmer wishes to claim against you he will need to provide details to support his claim. Examples would include: what the exact variety of crop is, its value per tonne, the expected yield, the area of crop rendered unfit for sale, costs incurred through hours of labour and vehicle/equipment hire, etc. All this allows the farmer's financial loss to be quantified which is essential for a crop damage claim to progress. Please note that nobody can claim for having suffered inconvenience as this cannot be quantified.

Insurance and age

pilot age, insurance, gliders, powered aircraft

As any given pilot grows older, the chance that they will have a medical emergency in flight increases. The relevance of a pilot's medical has been discussed at length elsewhere but as far as the insurance goes our experience is that as long as a pilot has a good accident/claim record and maintains good currency the insurer is likely to agree to continue quoting for existing clients even beyond 80 years of age, although they may insist on a higher excess when that pilot is flying. Even for potential new clients who are 75 years of age they can be convinced to provide quotes if the good overall experience is backed up by good currency.

Most of us would agree that, in general, 100 years of age is too old to be flying P1 and 50 years is perfectly fine. The only practicable approach for insurers is to draw a line somewhere in between. Where would you draw yours?

B.G.A. accident reports – a regulatory requirement

british gliding association, accident report, gliders, powered aircraft

Don't forget! It is a requirement of the British Gliding Association to fill in and submit a B.G.A. accident report in relation to any incident where a glider is damaged such that parts must be repaired or replaced and it won't be airworthy again for more than 48 hours. This can and often does include damage which is apparently very minor on first viewing. Lesser incidents should still be reported to them.

The information collated from B.G.A. accident reports is presented anonymously in Sailplane & Gliding magazine as a learning tool for other pilots and is used to produce accident statistics for gliders and motorgliders from which national strategies for training and safety procedures are developed. The responsibility is yours.

Incredibly, despite this requirement it has become apparent over the years that many incidents and smaller accidents go unreported each year. Detailed guidance on what needs to be reported can be found on the first page of the B.G.A.'s accident form which is available from their website as well as other useful information on actions to be taken after an accident (

Reporting of new accidents, incidents or damage to you insurance broker

accidents, incidents, damage, insurance

It is an explicit requirement of your insurance policy that you notify your insurer as a matter urgency of any incident or accident that may potentially lead to a claim. A surprisingly large proportion of claims arise from incidents which the client did not think would generate one, so putting off getting the glider looked at properly or waiting until the next ARC has the potential to causes complications. Trying to make a claim for accident damage that happened maybe as much as six months or more ago can make it much harder to get your claim accepted. It is possible that the policy under which the incident occurred has expired or been replaced or perhaps the aircraft has been flown since the incident concerned, in which case there is the possibility of damage being exacerbated, not to mention the risk of a further incident occurring which could have serious ramifications.

It is very important to report incidents as soon as possible and ideally before the aircraft flies again. Have it examined properly by a qualified inspector or aircraft engineer before you consider flying it again and if it is judged as fit for flight, make sure they mark the logbook accordingly, noting any limitations. Also take photographs of the damage before it flies again in case of further incidents or exacerbation of damage.

Any repairs should be formally quoted for before instructions are given for work to start so that you can't be surprised by the cost. You can then decide if a claim is necessary and if so the insurer should be given the chance to comment or approve the quotation before work begins. Trying to make a claim for work that has already been done prior to advising your insurer of the incident can cause delays or more serious problems because the insurer has not had chance to raise any concerns or queries before you committed to the work being done. This is even more of an issue if no formal estimate was provided to you before you gave permission for repairs to commence.

So please remember:

  • contact your broker as a matter of urgency after any accidents or incidents in order to discuss how best to proceed in the specific circumstances
  • make sure any damage is formally checked out by a qualified person
  • make sure a formal quotation is provided for any repairs before any work is done, even if you don't expect there to be too much work or expense involved
  • having seen the quotation and decided to make a claim, don't give permission for work to start until the insurer has also seen the quotation and had chance to comment, etc.

Declarable accidents or claims

accidents, claims, damage

For your insurance any incident is relevant that might affect the Insurer's assessment of the risks they are taking on. As such you should declare any incident of damage to or by an aircraft regardless of whether it led to a claim being made. Often it will not directly affect the terms quoted to you but it adds to the overall picture of experience and risk and gives the insurer the opportunity to make an informed decision. Not declaring an incident can have serious consequences and discovery of an undeclared incident during assessment of an insurance claim could even lead to your claim being denied.

So please remember:

  • contact your broker as a matter of urgency after any accidents or incidents in order to discuss how best to proceed in the specific circumstances
  • make sure any damage is formally checked out by a qualified person
  • make sure a formal quotation is provided for any repairs before any work is done, even if you don't expect there to be too much work or expense involved
  • having seen the quotation and decided to make a claim, don't give permission for work to start until the insurer has also seen the quotation and had chance to comment, etc.

Forming a syndicate

aicraft, syndicate, ownership

It sometimes seems that the only thing to get considered when looking for a syndicate partner is how much further they will help your own money stretch. But syndicate troubles can really spoil the ownership of an aircraft so here are some things to consider.

  • Are your partners easily contactable? Will they be around (or even in the country) if you need to discuss insurance needs, arrange payments or sign a release form after a claim?
  • Who would pay the excess in the event of a claim?
  • Are you prepared to have higher premiums to include partners with much less experience than you?
  • What is their accident record?

Aircraft are usually a very serious financial investment and choosing who is to take a share of the responsibility of flying and maintaining the aircraft, paying associated costs and signing any documents necessary to keep it running is important. We suggest you lay everyone's responsibilities down in a formal document to be agreed and signed by everyone on day one. That way everyone knows exactly what they are committing to and you will be better positioned to pick partners that will ensure a happy, smooth running syndicate.

CAA and proof of insurance

civil aviation autority, caa, proof of insurance

We are often asked about what documentation is required as proof of insurance for the CAA after a client has bought an aircraft or as part of a random audit by the CAA.

Although the CAA's forms refer to wanting to see the 'certificate' in most cases this will not in fact give them the information they need. In the majority of cases they will need to see a copy of the liability cover note. This is the small card in a plastic wallet with brief details of the cover on one side and we issue one to any client who has their aircraft insured for full flight risks or third party or liability only.

For cases where ground risks only cover is in place including just a limited number of sales demonstration flights, such as with our glider and motorglider insurance underwritten by Allianz Global Corporate & Specialty, no cover note is issued. In this case you should tell them that it is covered for ground risks only except as described in 'Gliding Endorsement 12 – Flights By Prospective Purchasers' on pages 14 and 15 of the certificate wording booklet and provide them with a copy of those pages instead.