How and When Should You Shop for Aircraft Insurance?
By Bob Mackey, Vice President, Falcon Insurance Agency, Inc.
Buying aircraft insurance can be fun! If you go about buying your aircraft insurance with a plan, you'll eliminate the hassles and you'll find the right agent to handle your account. Here's the plan I suggest.
Regardless of whether you are buying a new aircraft or finishing a homebuilt project or vintage restoration, begin checking out your options no later than 6 months before you need aircraft insurance. Start by looking into insurance plans offered by any associations you belong to. (Usually association-endorsed insurance plans offer expanded insurance coverage that may not be available if you were not a member.) Also, talk to your flying friends. Ask whom they use and why they chose that particular agent. You can start this step anytime, but make sure you've finished your research no later than 120 days before you need insurance.
Between 120 and 90 days before you need aircraft insurance, make your first decision as to which agent you might pick to handle your aircraft insurance. Narrow this list down to no more than two agents.
At the 90-day point before you need aircraft insurance, call the agent(s) and talk to him or her about your aircraft insurance. I call this the "interview stage." Here's list of things to watch and listen for:
- Availability and Responsiveness: If you have to call more than once or you have to wait too long for a call back, this may be a sign of things to come if you choose this agent.
- Interest: They say you learn a lot more by listening than talking…so listen carefully and ask yourself, is the agent asking me questions about my pilot experience, my aircraft, and the type of flying I do? Or, is the agent launching into his or her own "spiel?"
- Aviation and Insurance Knowledge: Throughout your conversation do you feel that the agent has a good working knowledge of aviation and aviation insurance? Watch for things they can't fully explain and then go with your gut. If you've got a question the agent can't answer and they say they want to do some research to make sure they are giving a correct answer, this could be a very good sign. At least the agent is telling you they don't know all the answers and they aren't afraid to admit it. Further they are willing to get answers rather than guess.
- Reputation: This last item may be a little tough to investigate. But ask the agent how many insurance companies they deal with and where they think they can get the best insurance for you at the lowest price. If the agent says there are insurance companies they do not use for your aircraft insurance, ask why. A good answer would be that this insurance company or that insurance company isn't competitive on your type of aircraft. If the answer is simply that the agent doesn't like a particular insurance company, you may want to ask why and listen. An agent's reputation with insurance companies can have a positive or negative impact on your insurance.
- Add things you want to know to this list. Keep some notes because you'll want to refresh your memory later on when it's time to make a decision.
Once you've completed the "interview stage," it's time to make a decision. Ninety days before you need aircraft insurance, decide which agent you want to have get quotes on aircraft insurance for you. You should not have more than one agent getting quotes.
Once you've decided on an agent, it's time to get the agent working on getting quotes for you. Provide as much information as possible as this will help secure a better quotation. Also, ask the agent to get their proposal to you no later than 30 days before you need aircraft insurance.
Now, 30 days before the date you need aircraft insurance in effect, review the proposal from your agent. As you review it, write down any questions regarding the terms and conditions of the insurance as well as the premium. Once your review is done, unless you've already decided, call the agent and ask any questions you might have regarding the proposal. After you're satisfied and have all your answers, ask your agent to start your insurance.
All in all, buying insurance can be highly educational and even a little fun as you learn more about the ins and outs of aviation insurance. Who knows, maybe you'll even make a new friend-your agent!
If you want to check out the EAA Aircraft Insurance Plan, call 866-647-4EAA (4322) or go online at www.eaainsurance.org.
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