Member News


From motorcycle guy to airplane guy

Oct 25, 2013

From passing the written to buying aircraft insurance, AOPA was there. Thomas Remo says he has “an ear-to-ear grin every day.”

From passing the written to buying aircraft insurance, AOPA was there.

Thomas Remo says he has “an ear-to-ear grin every day.” Other pilots will appreciate that his happy face is caused by his most recent purchase: a Piper Cherokee. Remo is the owner of Shocker Custom Cycles in Huntington Beach, Calif., and he says owning an airplane is “a lifelong dream come true.”

 Thomas Remo

Pilots also will appreciate that it took time and effort to get where he is today. As a very young boy, a flight attendant overheard him using the word tarmac and was so impressed that she brought him to the cockpit to meet the pilot who let Remo sit in his seat. The dream of learning to fly would have to wait, however, and it wasn’t until he was 25 that he took an intro flight and fell in love with flying again.

In December 2012, Remo felt that his life and his businesses—in addition to the motorcycle shop, he owns a music studio—were stable and successful, and he could devote the resources to learning to fly. Although the instructor for his intro flight had recommended he join AOPA, he ignored the advice until he started ground school at Orange Coast College where his instructors Dr. Ernest Maruer and Richard Young both recommended the students join AOPA.

“That’s when I jumped in head first and wanted to know everything AOPA had to offer,” he says. He credits studying www.aopa.org for the high score on his private written—especially, he says, information about runway signs. He says, “I was having a difficult time getting everything to sink into my head.” He also credits his flight instructor, Brandon Abrego, for his great teaching.

He passed his private checkride this past Mother’s Day and he turned his attention to buying an airplane. Although he had trained in a Cessna 172, he preferred the silhouette of a low-wing airplane and especially the Cherokee. He turned back to www.aopa.org, now for information on buying an airplane. He says, “I’m only 29 and I’ve never bought an airplane before.” He says he used every resource AOPA offers to research his purchase.

When it came time to buy insurance, his experience with the association had been so positive that he naturally turned to AOPA. Again, AOPA came out on top. In fact, he had called some other insurance companies and was not impressed with their level of customer service. Remo says, “My guy at AOPA Insurance was super-nice, gave me the best rate, and told me that I’d be covered starting that day and that they’d send me the paperwork in the mail.”

As for aircraft ownership, Remo says it’s everything he has dreamed of. He and his girlfriend, Karen, took a spontaneous trip to Palm Springs, then on to Las Vegas. He says, “Flying is so awesome, I can come and go as I please. And the best news is Karen used to be afraid of flying, and now she’s thinking about getting her license. She loves it.” In the meantime, Remo is enjoying his airplane and working on his instrument rating. In sum, he says, “All I want to do is fly.”

AOPA Insurance Services is celebrating 20 years of serving the aviation insurance needs of our customers. Visit us at www.aopainsurance.org or call 800/622-2672 for information on how AOPA can get you the best deal of aviation and life insurance.

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Nonowner's insurance: Add it to your checklist

Oct 18, 2013

John felt the airplane rock under the influence of a gusting north wind as he rolled into position for takeoff on Runway 27. They would back in an hour or so.

By Bill Snead

John felt the airplane rock under the influence of a gusting north wind as he rolled into position for takeoff on Runway 27. He planned to be back in an hour or so: just a quick Sunday morning flight with his neighbor, Bob. One hour and 10 minutes later John wondered just how much it would cost to fix that wheel fairing, replace a runway light, and file out that nick in the prop. Turns out that botched crosswind landing, wheel fairing, runway light, and “nicked” prop cost $30,000! The wheel pant was $300 and the airport manager had a spare runway light, but that prop was a problem, and an engine teardown and inspection was required.

So just what did John have to worry about? Here’s a partial list: damage to the airport property, fire department response fees, salvage company fee to get John’s airplane out of the mud, one aircraft wash job, the aircraft policy deductible, two months storage in a repair shop, one wheel fairing, one new prop (the damaged prop had 25 hours on it), one engine teardown and inspection, the parts and labor to repair the engine, nick and scrape repairs, new paint on the repaired and replaced parts of the aircraft, engine and aircraft test flights including pilot charges, the significant cost of an accident investigation and defense costs, a possible subrogation lawsuit by the owner’s insurance company, a possible lawsuit by the aircraft owner for damages not covered by his insurance, two months loss of use/profits to the flight school, and the cost of an attorney to represent him just in case his friend Bob decided he might have been hurt after all.

Luckily, Bob saw the incident as just a good story, and John had purchased Nonowner’s (Renter's) Insurance from the AOPA Insurance Agency. His policy covered everything except for one FAA checkride, a bruised ego, and a big thank-you to the operator of the flight school that had insisted John carry insurance. Add Nonowner’s Insurance to your checklist. It is an important part of being a responsible pilot. Call AOPA Insurance Services at 800/622-2672 or get immediate insurance with a credit card online.

Bill Snead was named president of the AOPA Insurance Agency in 2013.

Editor's note: Names have been changed to protect the identity of those involved.

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It's up to you to protect yourself as an aircraft renter

Oct 14, 2013

Many pilots fly a rental or training aircraft with the assumption that insurance isn’t their responsibility.

  • “The FBO has insurance on this plane—after all, they own it.”
  • “My flight instructor said the school insures the airplane.”
  • “I don’t need insurance because I’m a good pilot.”

Many pilots fly a rental or training aircraft with the assumption that insurance isn’t their responsibility—that the owner of the aircraft, the flight school or FBO, is responsible. Some pilots, more than you’d imagine, just flat out believe an accident won’t happen to them. These are dangerous thoughts to have because accidents happen to even the best pilots, and while it’s true the FBO or school insures the airplane, these businesses are protecting themselves, not you.

Often an aircraft renter is told he or she doesn’t need liability coverage—only $5,000 for aircraft damage. But here’s what that FBO doesn’t tell you: They have their own liability coverage and they aren’t worried about you, the renter, being sued as it won’t impact them. The FBO will have hull coverage to cover the aircraft and more than likely your $5,000 will simply cover their deductible. That way, the flight school or FBO has no out-of-pocket expenses.

When it comes to liability, you have a range of price points when selecting coverage. AOPA Insurance believes you should buy what you’re comfortable with, but really as much as you can reasonably afford to cover not only the airplane but also bodily injury for your passengers along with property damage.

When you buy insurance as a renter, you are buying an amount of insurance for the “occurrence,” which includes property damage and bodily injury with a passenger sublimit, meaning how much of the insurance money is provided for health care for the passenger. For example, if you have an insurance policy paying $250,000 as an occurrence limit, the passenger sublimit will be $25,000. No surprise that amount could easily be used up in the first hour in a hospital emergency room.

In the case of an accident when you are renting an airplane, any number of things may happen, but one factor remains true: No one is protecting your interests but you.

When you buy renter’s insurance for yourself from AOPA Insurance, you are buying protection for the entire year. AOPA Insurance makes it easy. In fact, you can buy renter’s insurance online, charge it to a credit card, and download proof of insurance within minutes. In addition to buying online, you can call AOPA Insurance from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Central time Monday through Friday. Or you can buy renter’s insurance the "old school" way: Send a check and the application through the mail. Once you purchase a policy, you’re good to go, whether you rent once a year or dozens of times a year. It’s the same price.

Buying renter’s insurance really is quick and easy: The only information you are required to give is your name, address, email address, date of birth, occupation, the type of aircraft you typically fly, your licenses and ratings, total time, total time in the past 12 months, and answers to four questions. That’s it. Renter’s insurance ranges from $250,000/$25,000 to $1,000,000/$100,000 for liability coverage and optional physical damage liability, all for an affordable price that makes protecting yourself and your assets the logical choice. For more information or to apply for a policy, visit the AOPA Insurance Services website or call us at 800/622-2672. Don’t forget: You earn a 5-percent discount just for being an AOPA member.

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B-29 navigator, bombardier, radar officer flies a Starduster

Oct 01, 2013

Marvin Rosenberg: Still flying at 91.

Marvin Rosenberg: Still flying at 91. The Rosenbergs

Like many boys of his generation, Rosenberg’s interest in aviation came from models introduced to him by a neighbor. “He had some models of biplanes, and we played with those. He was very careful with them and he only let me handle them once in a while,” Rosenberg recalls. Rosenberg then went on to build model airplanes out of paper and balsa wood with rubber bands attached to the propellers.

Marvin was drafted in March 1943 while in college at UCLA. He stated his preference to the draft board to become a navigator. He was placed in a heavy weapons company instead. Rosenberg recalls, “After seven or eight months, I saw a notice asking if anyone wanted to transfer to the Army Air Corps and I said yes and passed the physical.” It was in gunnery school in Fort Myers, Fla., where he learned trap shooting skills he still retains. “I can hit 23 clay birds out of 25 and people want to know how this old geezer does it,” he jokes.

Eventually Rosenberg became a radar, navigator, and bombardier on a B-29 Superfortress based Guam with missions over Japan. When the war ended he came home and started his family and his business, a ladies’ blouse manufacturing company, LeeMar of California. He bought his first airplane, a Cessna 182 in 1963, even before had earned his private certificate. A year later he upgraded to a Cessna 205 and then to a Cessna 206 in 1969, which he owned for 33 years, selling it in 2012. “I had 4,000 hours in the airplane,” he says. “We flew it across the country three times, twice to Florida and Canada, and many times to Mexico.” He also flew for the Coast Guard Auxiliary for more than 20 years and the Palm Springs Police Aero Squadron for 17 years.

He missed owning an airplane, so last year he purchased a Starduster Too in Indiana. With a ferry pilot in the back seat, they flew 2,100 miles in an open cockpit to Palm Springs in four days. Rosenberg once again turned to AOPA Insurance and Carol Thompson for help. Thompson found a policy for him. He has been a member of AOPA for more than 50 years and a 20-year customer of AOPA Insurance. He says, “Unfortunately the policy calls for a qualified check pilot that is not so easy to find. So the airplane has not flown as much as I would like.”

In addition to flying and enjoying life with Leah, his wife of 70 years, Rosenberg has been a lifelong sailor. The highlight of his sailing came when he sailed his Morgan 46 from Marina Del Rey in Los Angeles, down the California and Mexico coast, through the Panama Canal, through the Caribbean, north up the intracoastal waterway to Maine and then shipped the boat back to Marina Del Rey. He took three years to make the trip, taking time out for hurricane seasons.

These days, Rosenberg belongs to the United Fly Octogenarians and keeps busy with daily games of golf and tennis. He also belongs to a group called Old Bold Pilots which has monthly meetings with speakers.

As for Thompson, his renewal manager at AOPA Insurance, Rosenberg says “She’s wonderful. She has always been honest with me. She has always come through for me.” As AOPA Insurance’s oldest insured, he appreciates the care and service Thompson has provided. AOPA Insurance offers knowledgeable agents who can understand aviation and the kind of flying each individual does. That personal touch is what makes AOPA Insurance such a valuable resource for members.

AOPA Insurance Services is celebrating 20 years of serving the aviation insurance needs of our customers. Visit www.aopainsurance.org or call 800/622-2672 for information on how AOPA can get you the best deal on aviation and life insurance.

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What you need to know about insurance when you become a pilot

Oct 01, 2013

You dreamed about becoming a pilot and are taking the steps to make that a reality. Insurance, although not on the top of the fun list, is an important piece of joining the ranks of pilots.

You dreamed about becoming a pilot and are taking the steps to make that a reality. Often as we chase our dreams we don’t think about what might change based on that becoming a reality. Insurance, although not on the top of the fun list, is an important piece of joining the ranks of aviators.

You may have an existing life and/or accidental death and dismemberment (AD&D) policy that you bought years ago or through your employer. If so, take time to pull it out and read the exclusions thoroughly. Many life and accident policies will not cover you as a pilot flying for recreation or as a passenger in a general aviation aircraft, or they may pay a reduced amount should there be a claim. Read the fine print carefully. Similar to other activities like riding a motorcycle or mountain climbing, aviation is included as a high-risk activity, and many times the policy is written to decrease the exposure of the underwriter. AOPA Insurance Services has worked carefully with our underwriters to create pilot-friendly policies.

As a new pilot, you may not realize when you rent or borrow an aircraft you could be personally liable for tens of thousands of dollars in repair costs and legal defense fees should damage occur, because FBO policies rarely provide adequate coverage for pilots. Renter’s insurance and liability insurance are critical to protect you against claims arising from bodily injury and property damage for which you are legally liable, caused by an occurrence arising from your use of a nonowned (rented or borrowed) aircraft. Nonowned liability coverage does not apply to damage to the aircraft you have borrowed or rented. However, physical damage coverage for your nonowned aircraft may be added to your liability policy for an additional premium.

When you own your aircraft, you will still want to consider a life or AD&D policy. Often we speak with members who think that is covered under their aircraft owner’s insurance but that is not the case, there is no coverage for you or your life in an aircraft insurance policy.

AOPA Insurance Services insurance experts are able to answer your specific questions. Visit aopainsurance.org to learn more.

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Owner's cheat sheet for aircraft insurance

Sep 19, 2013

Insuring your aircraft is no easy task. It's a substantial investment, and understanding the ins and outs of the insurance industry can be confusing to put it mildly.

Insuring your aircraft is no easy task. It’s a substantial investment, and understanding the ins and outs of the insurance industry can be confusing to put it mildly.

What’s more, comparing insurance policies is rarely an apples-to-apples affair. But to make things a bit easier, here’s a simple checklist to help you navigate the process.

Coverages

• Is your liability limit smooth or with a sublimit? If with a sublimit, is it per passenger or per person?
• Does your hull coverage include “in motion” and “not in motion” incidents?
• Are medical payments provided under the policy? If yes, do they include the crew?
• What’s the scope of the covered territory and does it meet your needs?
• What’s the approved use under the policy and does it cover your flight operations?

Policy Details

• What deductibles would apply?
• Who can fly the aircraft? Does it include FAA-approved repair stations?
• Can I charge others for the use of my aircraft?
• Is there coverage for me if I rent or borrow an aircraft owned by others?
• Does the policy provide coverage for FAA ferry or special permit flights?
• What’s the airworthiness requirement?
• Are any premiums partially or fully earned at time of coverage inception?
• What are my obligations under the terms of the policy?
• What’s the notice of cancellation clause?
• Do I need to request coverage for additional parties (lienholder, landlord, etc.)?

Please visit us online for additional information.

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Preventing out of pocket from getting out of hand

Sep 04, 2013

A deductible is the amount you’ll pay out of your own pocket in the event of an accident for which you’re filing a claim.

Deductibles are a way for the insurance company to make you participate in the cost of a claim as an added incentive to be alert and avoid carelessness in the cockpit.

With a standard deductible, you may be required to pay anywhere from $0 to $2,500 toward your airplane’s repair cost. If you have an amphibious, seaplane, rotor-wing or other more specialized equipment, a much higher deductible would apply and possibly be expressed as a fixed amount from $10,000 to $25,000. It’s also possible you’ll pay a fixed percentage between 5 percent and 10 percent of the insured value of the airplane.

With other types of insurance, you generally see the premium drop when you take a higher deductible. Not so for aircraft insurance. Taking higher deductibles won’t lower the cost of your airplane insurance much, if at all, simply because insurers expect most claims to exceed a higher deductible, incurring the same amount of claim administration expenses as they would with a lower deductible.

There’s nothing wrong with asking about higher deductibles to lower the cost of your airplane insurance; just don’t be surprised if your insurance agent doesn’t have good news for you. But remember, your insurance agent is the person you should be able to count on to help maximize your airplane insurance while minimizing the cost.

AOPA Insurance Services is celebrating its twentieth anniversary. Our first policy was written in September 1993 for a Cessna 172. We want to thank all of our members for helping us become the largest light aircraft insurance agency in the United States. We look forward to the next 20 years of serving the insurance needs of our members.

For more information, please visit us online.

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AOPA Insurance celebrates 20 years of coverage for members

Sep 03, 2013

In September, AOPA Insurance Services celebrates its twentieth anniversary protecting pilots and the aviation community through insurance and risk management services.

In September, AOPA Insurance Services celebrates its twentieth anniversary protecting pilots and the aviation community through insurance and risk management services.

“I am delighted to congratulate our colleagues at AOPA Insurance Services on this noteworthy anniversary,” said AOPA President Craig Fuller. “AOPA Insurance Services perfectly represents AOPA’s core principles through great service for our members with the goal of keeping them flying. I know the next 20 years will bring even more success.”

Launched in a partnership with Aon Insurance in September 1993, AOPA Insurance Services has since grown into a brokerage that offers coverage on a wide variety of aircraft, from historic and experimental aircraft to today’s most advanced business jets.

 
In 2008, the company became a wholly-owned subsidiary of AOPA and it has assumed AOPA’s other membership insurance offerings, such as term life and accidental death policies. Three of the six original employees—Gina Monarez, Cathy Knotts and Brenda Jennings—still work for AOPA Insurance Services.

From its headquarters in Wichita, Kan., AOPA Insurance Services has expanded to offer a variety of innovative programs for pilots, including special insurance coverage for flying clubs and an accident forgiveness program. Under that program, pilots who take two AOPA Foundation Air Safety Institute online courses every six months can avoid both a deductible payment if they are involved in an accident and a premium increase when the policy is renewed.

In June, AOPA Insurance Services launched a new commercial program offering coverage to members who have aviation-related businesses, such as fixed-base operators and manufacturing and repair facilities.

“The changes made over the years have come from tailoring our products to fit what our members are asking for,” said Brenda Jennings, AOPA Insurance Services senior vice president and director of operations. “In addition to providing targeted services, we are also able to right now offer members the lowest rates we have seen in the industry since the 1970s. This is a very exciting time for AOPAIS.”

In addition to providing financial support for AOPA’s mission, AOPA Insurance Service has donated $1.8 million to the AOPA Foundation since 2009 to help safeguard the future of general aviation.

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EA+ Update: Overseas travel precautions

Aug 23, 2013

There are some basic safety tips every traveler should keep in mind, even if they are the most seasoned voyagers.

EA updateAOPA’s Emergency Assistance Plus Program (EA+) can help ensure you start out on the right foot and stay on track even if you get thrown a curve or two.

You want to do your best to stay away from areas where trouble can find you. So with the help of EA+ you can start with some intelligence gathering as soon as you start making travel plans. EA+ will provide information about your potential destinations with the latest news about weather, travel in the area, and even special events that would be taking place at the time of your visit.

Stay aware of your surroundings

Tourist sites can sometimes be places where you’re vulnerable to theft or other scams. Always walk with a purpose. Even if you are lost, act as if you know where you are going. Try to ask for directions only from individuals in authority.

In case of emergency
Make note of emergency telephone numbers you may need: police, fire, your hotel, and the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate. Also be sure to have your EA+ worldwide phone number handy so that in the event an emergency, EA+ could forward a message via telephone or email to your family members.

During your hotel stay
When you arrive, familiarize yourself with the fire safety instructions in your hotel room so you know the location of the nearest fire exits and alternate exits. When you go out, secure your money and other valuables in the hotel safe. When you’re in your room, keep your hotel door locked at all times.

Safer transportation
Only take taxis clearly identified with official markings. Beware of unmarked cabs.

Problems can happen anywhere, anytime, to anyone. But by taking some basic precautions and enrolling in the EA+ program, you can travel more confidently wherever your travels take you.

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Changes?

Aug 16, 2013

If something in your life has recently changed—such as pay increases, promotions, marriages, purchasing a larger home, or having children—you probably need to add to your coverage.

If you're like many, you probably don't have enough life insurance.  Recent studies have shown that life insurance ownership is at a 50-year low, with half of U.S. households admitting that they don’t have enough life insurance to adequately support their loved ones.

Perhaps you already have some life insurance—but is it enough?  Inflation, economic conditions, and lifestyle changes can all eat away at the value of that life insurance. Does your current policy include aviation coverage? Many do not. If something happened to you, your current life insurance may not be enough to adequately support your loved ones. AOPA Group Term Life Insurance makes it easy and affordable for you to obtain additional life insurance with no aviation exclusions.

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