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  • Understanding the Claims Process

    The insurance industry would not exist if bad things did not happen. Aircraft losses including accidents, thefts, fires and windstorms are definitely bad for the aircraft owners and pilots involved.  As insurance industry agents, underwriters, and claims adjusters it is our job to restore what was lost and protect our policyholders from potential additional expense and possible liability.

    Notify your agent & insurance company – ASAP!

    If you have a loss, call your agent as soon as possible.  Give the agent as many details as you have.  Information regarding the aircraft, the location and time of the loss, the pilot and passengers on board, injuries if any, and damage to the aircraft should be reported.  Be sure to provide your agent with your current contact information especially your cell phone number.  Your agent will immediately forward all of this information to the insurance carrier’s claims department, and will set up an office file to follow the progress of the claim settlement.  Expect a call from the company adjuster within 24 hours of the time you reported the claim to your agent.

    Aircraft Physical Damage

    Once communication has been established between you and the adjuster a plan of action can be developed.  In the case of aircraft physical damage the first questions to be answered will be; Where is the aircraft now? How is it being protected? How will it be moved?  Who will do the repairs?   If you do not have a particular facility to do each of these tasks the adjuster can suggest a shop that they have worked with before.  Keep in mind that the final decision as to who will work on your airplane will be yours.  It is the insurance company’s responsibility to pay for the repairs, but it is not their responsibility to do or supervise the work.  They will help with suggestions, but it is the aircraft owner’s right and responsibility to determine who repairs his airplane. The company may require bids from various repair facilities and usually they will want the work to go to the lowest bidder. It may not always go that way especially if the owner strongly objects, or if there is any doubt about a shop’s ability to do the job at the price quoted.

    Medical Expense

    In the case of serious injury or property damage to other people’s property the problem may not be so easy to fix.  Most aircraft policies include Medical Payments coverage.  This coverage is just about enough to cover the trip to the emergency room.  This coverage would also apply for the medical expenses of the owner/pilot.  If there are injuries the adjuster will usually agree to pay the medical expense as soon as he receives the bills.  If there are injuries to passengers there is a very good chance that the insured will be held legally liable for those injuries and the medical expenses that result.

    Potential Liability

    As previously stated, the Medical Expense coverage is usually only enough to cover the first aid emergency treatment.  Most light aircraft policies include liability coverage with at least a limit of $1,000,000 for bodily injury and property damage with larger aircraft and corporate jet policies providing limits as high as $500,000,000 or more.  Many light aircraft policies have a sub-limit on the amount of coverage that will apply to injury to passengers. In most cases this limitation is $100,000 or $200,000 per passenger.  Keep in mind this is liability insurance.  There must be either a lawsuit or the potential of one against the insured before this coverage will apply.  In the case of passenger injury or damage to property on the ground the insurance company will plan for legal action against their insured.  In many cases they will attempt to make a settlement with the injured person or property owner before a suit is filed.

    At any time that you feel that a claim settlement is taking too long, or the adjuster is not responding to your concerns call your agent.  In many cases the agent can get things off center and get the claim process moving along to a satisfactory conclusion.