In the aviation insurance industry, market conditions can change quickly in response to pressure from inside and outside both the aviation and insurance sectors. We’d like to take a look at the state of our marketplace, as a few events have created small but significant shifts.
Two high-profile incidents involving Malaysia Airlines comprise the biggest news of this year. Many clients have asked if this will affect their insurance rates. Commercial airline losses can filter down to general aviation because many of the same insurers write both areas. However, this may not occur with the Malaysia incidents due to the nature of the losses. Coverage for the jet shot down in the Ukraine will be paid by war risk insurers, rather than by companies that provide Malaysia’s standard aviation general liability policy. This loss may spur an uptick in war risk insurance rates, as may Malaysia Flight 370, if we learn the cause of its disappearance. However, we doubt this will have much effect on airline or general aviation rates.
The other significant piece of market news is the entry of two new carriers into the general aviation insurance marketplace, Great American and Acceleration Aviation Underwriters. Neither of these companies are currently licensed in all 50 states and both are likely to perform as niche markets serving a limited segment of general aviation clients.
We are carefully monitoring both companies, as we do all new entrants into the aviation insurance marketplace. While new companies typically offer attractive pricing as their way to enter the market, NationAir takes a cautious approach recommending a new market to our clients. Aside from the obvious question of a new market’s financial viability and commitment to general aviation, we monitor whether or not the company holds proper licensing and provides policy forms that are equivalent to those of existing markets. We also scrutinize new markets to ensure they are adequately staffed, especially in the vital area of claims. Only after we are satisfied they meet these criteria do we begin to recommend a new market to our clients.
Along with new markets, NationAir has been tracking rate patterns of existing underwriting companies. We have noted a slowdown in the across-the-board rate decreases we have seen for most of the past decade. After years of lowering rates to increase market share, some larger insurance companies are losing their appetite to continue that practice and instead are turning to other methods to increase their bottom line. They are cutting staff to reduce expenses and expanding into general aviation areas they previously shunned. This benefits NationAir clients by expanding their options for insurance and increasing competition in the marketplace. As a result, at your next renewal, you may receive a quote from an established insurer that has never been an option for your aircraft or operations.
Of course, the expansion of some companies into new markets, debut of new insurers, and effects of major aviation losses can vary according to market sector--rotor wing, agricultural aviation, or corporate flight departments, to name a few. Make sure to talk to your NationAir broker for more information about how insurance trends are affecting your specific area. In the meantime, NationAir will continue to monitor industry patterns and report regularly to our clients on the aviation insurance marketplace.
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