I know, I swore off of this group again, but I got a thoughtful, intelligent reply from somebody who tends to write intelligent posts, so here I am again. I thought I should start a new thread to take the discussion away from the Kline vs. Scholefield melodrama as well as the whole AMA-bashing stigma. This is more about real insurance coverage issues and securing flying sites in the future rather than "AMA: yea or nay" anyway, so here it is, taken up where the "AMA insurance questions" thread leaves off.
Abel Pranger wrote:
Thanks for saying that. It's nice to know that somebody is hearing and processing these ideas. Sometimes I fear that some of us will end up with bad knees, what with all of the jerking that goes on...
Here's a little tidbit that I stumbled across: I went out to a local blues club to play at an open-mike jam session tonight and I was talking to a fellow named Steve afterwards about playing harmonicas and guitars, etc. I asked him what he does for a living, and he said he works for a colossal insurance company with 2000 employees. Well, this was too good to pass up, so I told him about the discussion we've been having here, and as it turns out he has in fact researched the model airplane insurance market on behalf of a client company that writes insurance for a variety of recreational activities. That company eventually decided not to get into the RC market because Steve had told them it would take some work to open up the market, as it seems to be tied up by a large non-profit organization called AMA. I asked him what it would take to get the market opened up, and he told me of a few possibilities, including forming a small organization that self-insures through what they call re-insurance, which is where you pay from your own treasury any claims that are below a specified deductible, and any claim above that is paid by a policy that you buy from a larger company. This practice is quite common and very easy to do, and would likely become profitable in just a couple of years. In fact, he told me that he would be very interested in setting up such a venture with a group of local modelers, except that it poses a conflict of interest with his job. He expressed the opinion that the profit on AMA insurance is most assuredly exhorbitantly high for the company that AMA buys coverage from, so it would be nice to get a piece of it and give people a better deal at the same time. This was based on his own research, of course.
Steve also strongly suspects that AMA's clause about voiding your coverage by not following safety rules is likely to be illegal in a lot of states. He found the concept laughable, and he advised me to ask the state insurance board to say whether it is legal or not to write such a clause into a liability policy for a calculated risk.
In general, Steve seemed to think that it is highly feasible to open up the model airplane liability market without too much trouble. First and foremost, he said that I should ask the bureaucrats at the state capital to tell me whether there are any statutory conflicts involved in the county's insurance requirements. Apparently such conflicts are common, as there are multitudes of laws to regulate insurance in an unfathomable number of different ways. Bringing attention to such a statutory conflict, if any exists, would naturally create a situation where the county would be very receptive to listening to all kinds of new ideas.
As it turns out, Steve is also on the Parks Board of a local municipality, where they just happen to have recently passed an ordinance to ban RC aircraft from the city parks. I told him they ought to have a dedicated space for RC flying at one of their parks, because if it's popular enough to ban, then it would be a good idea to designate a specific location for it. He agreed. Based on HIS OWN opinion of AMA from HIS OWN prior research, he told me that he thinks it would be a very good idea to establish a park where a simple city permit and widely available insurance alternatives would allow people to fly. This guy truly appears to know what he is talking about when it comes to insurance. He was making lots of sense. The really interesting thing was that he already knew a fair amount about AMA from his research, and he expressed a real enthusiasm for rocking their boat, just because of the opinion that he had already formed of that type of organization before talking to me. Mostly I think that his distaste comes from the tendency for such organizations to waste money by paying too much of the members' money for insurance. From what he told me, it is quite feasible for a small group of a few dozen members to set up their own insurance company that pays the shareholders dividends when there are no claims, so that you end up paying a lot less in the long run.
Very interesting evening.... The only thing wrong is that this guy still needs to work on his timing when he sings. Other than that, he sounded pretty good!