After dealing with the most immediate issues of family and housing, AOPA members in Florida are now starting to come to grips with Hurricane Charley's damage to their aircraft. And the calls are coming in to AOPA's Pilot Information Center (800/USA-AOPA) with questions about dealing with insurance companies and the claims process.
"Some members have complained about insurance adjusters not getting back to them quickly," said Woody Cahall, AOPA vice president of aviation services. "But understand that many of these adjusters are working on a lot of property claims, not just aviation claims."
"Most insurance companies have adjusters in the field right now, so it shouldn't be too long before they get to your aircraft," adds Greg Sterling, executive vice president and general manager of the AOPA Insurance Agency. "If it's been more than a week since your initial call to your agent or insurance company and you still haven't heard anything, then by all means give them a second call. But know all insurance companies want to settle your claim quickly and fairly to minimize the hassles on both ends."
One item of confusion for some owners is how much they will get paid if their aircraft is a total loss. "Most policies are written to an 'insured value,' not a 'replacement value,'" said Sterling. "That means if the aircraft is 'totaled,' you'll get the amount set in the policy limits, not necessarily what the aircraft may have been worth.
"For all aircraft owners, this is a good reminder that you should review the value of your aircraft periodically, and adjust your insurance coverage to reflect what your airplane is worth today."
AOPA's online aircraft valuation service by Vref is a good starting point for determining the worth of an aircraft. Be sure to keep copies of all receipts for upgrades you've done to your airplane, and take photos as well.
If you've been unlucky enough to have had damage done to your aircraft, Sterling suggest the following to steps to help expedite the processing of your claim:
"Remember, the more information the better," said Sterling. "The insurance companies do want to settle your claim quickly and fairly."
August 26, 2004