RRG Insurance Changes and Rate Increases 2020-2021

Lawsuits between pilots and other incidents have raised insurance prices.

A Note on the RRG

USHPA was fortunate to establish an alternative insurance program with the creation of Recreation Risk Retention Group (RRRG) in 2016. Without RRRG, our instructors and pilot communities would have found significantly fewer opportunities for site access and no coverage for our activities.

USHPA is a partial owner of Recreation RRG, but the two organizations are separate. While the RRG provides self-insurance policies, it is still subject to external actuaries and regulators, which can influence insurance changes.

As our last sustainable option, we need members' help to protect this crucial asset so future pilots can enjoy the freedoms hundreds of thousands of us have experienced over the decades. Every pilot and chapter can have a major influence on the culture of safety within their communities. Please let us know how we can help you improve safety at your local sites.

Insurance Cost Increases 2020-2021

Pandemic-related challenges make this a difficult time for USHPA to take on an increase in insurance premiums. However, changes were necessary and implemented at the start of the new policy in March to promote pilots' adopting safety guidelines and to help preserve our self-insurance long term.

Lawsuits by USHPA members against other members filed before the coronavirus pandemic have resulted in premium increases for the 2020-2021 policy year. The USHPA board has decided NOT to raise dues in order to pay this increased premium.

Rate changes for 2020-2021:

  1. A $5 per member rate increase
  2. A $5 per student per day rate increase on the Event Student rate
  3. A $10 per Rogallo member (instructor) rate increase*

*Note that USHPA’s Pilot membership fee of $150/year helps subsidize Rogallo (instructor) membership fees, keeping them below the total cost of insurance at $294 per year. This subsidy on instructor insurance and other USHPA programs helps provide sustainability to various core programs.

These increases are the result of two separate lawsuits brought by USHPA members against other members. One case involved a midair, and the other involved a collision between a kiting glider and a glider coming in to land.

The premium increases will not fully replenish the self-insurance fund for expenses related to these lawsuits.

Outcomes

The FAA Advisory Circular 103-7 tells us that we, as pilots, are each responsible for our own safety while flying:

"The operators of these vehicles are responsible for assessing the risks involved and assuring their own personal safety."

Lawsuits between pilots deplete the self-insurance fund that so many of you helped us raise. They are also breaches of our commitment to the FAA to effectively self-regulate our sports. The FAA adoption of Part 103 was “based on the assumption that any individual who elects to fly an ultralight vehicle has assessed the dangers involved and assumes personal responsibility for his/her safety.” To avoid the potential for federal regulation, it is vital that free flight pilots honor the assumptions under which the program was adopted and adhere to practices that minimize the risks in our sports.

Clarifications in Insurance Coverage

To make the coverages that we have consistent with the USHPA SOPs, the USHPA General Liability (GL) policy now explicitly states the following:

  • Member coverage for H1/P1 pilots and below only applies when these pilots are operating under direct instructor supervision.
  • Member coverage only exists when operating within the USHPA operating limitations for the rating held by the pilot and while flying gliders within the pilot's rated proficiency.

These clarifications came about as a result of increased incidents and accidents involving unsupervised pilots holding ratings below H2/P2 and pilots operating in conditions and/or with equipment beyond those recommended for their ratings.

Removal of Insurance Coverage When Flying Certain Sites

Due to inadequate management of risks and exposure to potential liability, USHPA's GL and PL policies no longer cover USHPA pilots while flying at the following commercial flying sites:

  • Blue Mountain Ski Area
  • Horseshoe Bend Flight Park

No Coverage When Using Property East of Soboba Flight Park

Due to an ongoing conflict with the property owner immediately east of the Soboba Flight Park, the USHPA policy excludes coverage for any member activity occurring on that owner’s property. Pilots who use that property in any way are not covered.

We ask that all pilots fly safely, respect regulations, and help preserve our sports’ self-insurance.

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