The first major hurricane of the season is poised to strike somewhere along the Gulf Coast. Pilots in coastal Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and western Florida should be taking steps now to protect their aircraft.
As of Friday morning, Dennis was a dangerous Category 4 storm and still building strength as it bore down on Cuba. Officials have ordered an evacuation of the Florida Keys, Florida Gov. Jeb Bush has already declared a natural disaster, and the American Red Cross has activated its Disaster Operations Center. The eye of the storm is forecast to make U.S. landfall late Sunday or early Monday.
The best way to protect your airplane, of course, is to move it outside the storm's predicted path. If you can't, read AOPA's suggestions on what you can do to protect your airplane from the storm's fury.
Your aircraft insurance may help pay to relocate your aircraft out of harm's way. Check to see if you have Hurricane Protection Coverage. AOPA members insured with AIG Aviation through the AOPA Insurance Agency automatically have this coverage as part of their Broad Coverage Endorsement.
Hurricane Protection Coverage kicks in when the National Weather Service issues a hurricane watch or warning for the area where your aircraft is principally based. The insurance company will reimburse you for a portion of the reasonable costs associated with protecting your aircraft by relocating it outside of the hurricane's predicted path.
Reimbursable costs can include the costs of hiring a ferry pilot (who meets your policy requirements, of course). You must already have physical damage (hull) coverage in force, and the aircraft must be relocated to another airport that is outside the warning or watch area and at least 100 nm distant from home base. Reimbursement is usually limited to $500 or 50 percent of the total cost of the relocation, whichever is less.
Check your policy for additional details or call your broker. If you are insured through the AOPA Insurance Agency, contact them at 800/622-AOPA (2672) for more information on Hurricane Protection Coverage.
July 8, 2005