Come Fly away – Meadowbrook’s Aviation Program
The program focus for the month of May is Meadowbrook’s Aviation Program. The aviation program was inaugurated in 2010, it is now in its 7th year. During that time the program has evolved with the market itself. The Aviation Insurance Market is very competitive. Also, in terms of the other lines written in the insurance business, it is quite small. As you can imagine, it is a very specialized area of insurance, and it demands a good deal of knowledge with respect to both aviation and insurance.
The program is managed by three associates out of the North Brunswick, NJ, office. Jan Coombs handles most of the administrative and servicing duties. Dan Walker and Tom Gilbertson handle the underwriting duties and maintain the relationships with numerous brokers across the country. Like all other areas of the insurance industry, it is a people business. Dan and Tom are both pilots with a good deal of experience. Dan was an aerial survey pilot before coming to Meadowbrook, and Tom was a flight instructor and has been a pilot since his teens. Tom’s experience in the aviation insurance industry goes back over 30 years on both the underwriting and brokerage sides of the business.
The program operates within the area of what is known as “General Aviation”. General Aviation is defined as all aviation activity with the exception of the scheduled airlines and the military. General Aviation, or “GA” as it is known, constitutes both private and commercial activity.
Tom Gilbertson, the program manager, has summarized the Aviation niche and the types of business the team seeks to write:
Personal Aircraft Hull and Liability:
We write limits of up to $10,000,000 for liability and up to $5,000,000 for aircraft hull or physical damage. We write both piston and turbine-powered aircraft. One area that we specialize in is transitioning pilots, by that I mean pilots that are new to a particular aircraft. For example, a pilot moving into a bigger aircraft or a transition from a piston aircraft to a turbine-powered aircraft. We do this by both evaluating their current experience, the aircraft in question and the training available. We establish minimum parameters for that training, and of course, employ limits management in the underwriting process. We are a go-to market for these types of situations.
Corporate Aircraft Hull and Liability:
Here we look at smaller turboprop aircraft and jets that are flown by professional pilots for what is termed “industrial aid”. That means the aircraft are used to further their business.
Here we can have privately-owned helicopters up to and including large fleets that we may take a quota share position on. We have several accounts that fly medevac air ambulance activities. The helicopter market demands careful underwriting attention since there are rarely partial losses with helicopters.
Fixed Base Operators / General Liability:
These are risks that store, maintain and fuel aircraft. They need general liability such as premises, products cover for work done and hangarkeeper’s coverage for aircraft in their care, custody and control.
In some cases, we will provide excess liability up to a limit of $10,000,000. For example, if a risk wants a limit of liability that the primary underwriter is either unwilling or unable to provide, we will evaluate the risk, and if the underlying coverage is satisfactory, we will provide the excess coverage.
We write products liability for what we term “non-critical” products. By that we mean a product not related to aircraft or engine manufacturing. By this we mean a product that may not be intended for use in an aircraft but finds its way there; also aviation designed products such as interior fittings, aircraft accessories, etc.
As you know, this is a rapidly expanding area within aviation. We write physical damage and liability for these unmanned aircraft. We limit our liability exposure here and physical damage values are quite low. We write these aircraft for commercial use and do not write inexperienced hobbyists.
The Aviation team, while not the biggest aviation underwriter in the marketplace, has found their niche and has succeeded in making many brokers aware of MIG’s Aviation appetite. It is a very specialized program and the team in NJ is very motivated and available for questions or possible cross-selling opportunities. Feel free to give Jan, Dan or Tom a call.