Insurance for student pilot on experimental aircraft

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Built2Fly

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I am not sure if this is the correct board for this question. I appreciate any insight and information.

I am a student pilot (around 30 hours), and am currently doing my primary training in a Cessna 172. I purchased a Titan Tornado II experimental last year and am moving it from a private airport to a tiedown at larger airport. Now the club at the larger airport requires an insurance policy to rent me a tiedown. My question is which insurance agencies is willing to insure student pilots on their own experimental?

By the way, I heard that I have only one shot to quote. People told me that I can not shop around for aircraft insurance. I am not sure if that is true, but I do want to talk to the company who is most likely to insure me with the best rate.

Any information would be appreciated.
 

Kyle Boatright

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A good broker like SkySmith or Gallagher will take your information and shop it with multiple underwriters, then come back to you with all of the quotes and their analysis of the quotes. As you stated, you do only get one shot with a broker - you can't have both Skysmith and Gallagher shop the market for you - you need to pick one broker and they will get all the quotes.

AVEMCO is the exception to the rule - they don't sell through brokers. If you want a quote from them, you call them directly.

If I was you, I'd call Gallagher or SkySmith, AND AVEMCO.
 

Daleandee

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I use and recommend contacting:


Anyone can assist but if you ask for Victoria Neuville tell her I said hello!

I had no concerns getting tailwheel insurance on my experimental that I built. I made changes from the original kit design (heavier non-factory supported engine, etc.) and I told them all of this upfront. They thanked me and issued me a liability & hull policy that was about the same cost as liability only at Avemco.
 

Built2Fly

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Thanks for the good ideas. If I understand it right, there are agents and there are companies who provide insurance. Agents will shop my request around for me, but I can only use one of the agents.

Some friends mentioned Falcon to me. Through internet search I found BWI Fly, Travers, and First Flight. @Daleandee recommended Aviation Insurance Resources (thank you). Are those insurance companies? Shall I contact these insurance companies directly, or is there any benefit of contacting those insurance directly (like potentially lower rate)? Or maybe it is better to get an agent who will do all of that for me? Can I use an agent (only one of them) and also contact a few insurance companies myself, or would that be a No?

Thanks for all the good info.
 

Vigilant1

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Thanks for the good ideas. If I understand it right, there are agents and there are companies who provide insurance. Agents will shop my request around for me, but I can only use one of the agents.

Some friends mentioned Falcon to me. Through internet search I found BWI Fly, Travers, and First Flight. @Daleandee recommended Aviation Insurance Resources (thank you). Are those insurance companies? Shall I contact these insurance companies directly, or is there any benefit of contacting those insurance directly (like potentially lower rate)? Or maybe it is better to get an agent who will do all of that for me? Can I use an agent (only one of them) and also contact a few insurance companies myself, or would that be a No?

Thanks for all the good info.
My agent was very helpful in getting me a policy when I was first starting out. Candy Eichenberger of Avinsure in Ohio.
Here's the important thing: You get one bite at the apple. My understanding is that once a single agent has shopped for policies for you (and there aren't many issuers), those issuers will not/are reticent to relook at you if another agent calls them. At least for a certain period of time. So, pick your agent carefully and be sure they are building a good case for you to be presented to the issuers. You get one shot.

Mark
 

TFF

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What happens is the quote locks everyone to the same number. If you buy somewhere else, you will get the same number. It keeps big from undercutting small companies. The only variable is how much of the commission an agent gets, so if one will take $10 less, he could offer for that difference.
 

Built2Fly

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@TFF, do you mean that all issuer will always quote the same number for the same applicant (assuming that I contacted each of them directly individually without using an agent)? How does BWI Fly know what Avemco has quoted me, and vice versa? Does it mean that all issuers will always issue the same number? Does it also mean if one issuer denied, then the other issuer can not make an offer anymore?

@Vigilant1, does the "one shot" only apply if I use agents? I.e., if one agent shopped for me, the other agent would not take my case anymore. Does it also apply for the issuers? I.e., if I contacted one issuer and have a quote, the other issuers would not quote me anymore?
 

Turd Ferguson

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If you want to shop around, do not give specifics. Just say you're interested in finding out about one would pay for liability / hull insurance on a ______(insert aircraft)___________ . Don't say you already have the plane. If you give them an "N" number, then you for the most part lose the ability to shop around.

Student pilot solo in an experimental should be possible. As long as it has an N-number insurance considers it a plane and as long as it doesn't have a terrible safety record should be doable.
The airport only wants to be named as an additional insured on your liability policy, so they can dilute your coverage at no cost to them.
 

Dana

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I have mine through Falcon, each year they shop around for me and offer options from a few different underwriters.

I've also used Avemco; great service but often not the cheapest.
 

Vigilant1

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@Vigilant1, does the "one shot" only apply if I use agents? I.e., if one agent shopped for me, the other agent would not take my case anymore. Does it also apply for the issuers? I.e., if I contacted one issuer and have a quote, the other issuers would not quote me anymore?
I don't >think< the issuers share data on the quotes they give. I think they do, however, share data on their claims experience (so if you make a claim with one issuer, others will see it in the future).
I had several agents tell me that if I'd gone direct to an issuer for a quote or if another agent had gone on my behalf, that they wouldn't be able to get a quote from issuer, or, at best, it would be the same quote they'd already given.
My impression is that an agent is primarily valuable if the situation is a bit outside the norm. I'm not a fan of agents in general (Eg I buy my home and auto insurance directly). But I'm sure Candy Eichenberger helped get me a better policy because she helped make my case for insurability (helping to explain and substantiate undocumented time I'd flown decades before, etc). My recent hours were few and I was buying an experimental plane. We worked through getting an instructor, getting him insurance in the Sonex as he got hours in it, then getting us both covered while he gave me transition training.
In my opinion, an agent can help make your case with issuers, can take the time to explain various products and options, and can/should re-check the various options from insurers every year when it is time for renewal. They do have a dual loyalty (they don't want to make either a client or an issuer mad), but at least one offered good service to me. Get one that knows the ropes and who appears genuinely interested in your situation and in earning your business.
 

TFF

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From what I understand when the agent gives you a quote, the underwriter quote is locked in. Different underwriters can quote different but agents under the same underwriter can’t. After that is locked in the only amount change is how much the agent gets for the sale. Just for guessing examples if competitive is 10%, an agent might sell for 8% to be the lowest to swing the business. The base is locked.
 

Built2Fly

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I don't >think< the issuers share data on the quotes they give. I think they do, however, share data on their claims experience (so if you make a claim with one issuer, others will see it in the future).
I had several agents tell me that if I'd gone direct to an issuer for a quote or if another agent had gone on my behalf, that they wouldn't be able to get a quote from issuer, or, at best, it would be the same quote they'd already given.
That makes sense. So I guess I can potentially shop around among the underwriters, not among the agents. If I shop among the underwriters, each of them is contacted once by me and gives their one quote. That creates no conflict. If I shop among the agents, each of the agents in turn shop around my case among the same group of underwriters. Then each underwriter will receive multiple inquiries for my case from the agents. They will tell the agents, who will then tell me that I did wrong.

I have mine through Falcon, each year they shop around for me and offer options from a few different underwriters.
I've also used Avemco; great service but often not the cheapest.
One curiosity question now is to figure out who is agent (who will shop around) and who is underwriter (who actually writes the policy).

It seems that Falcon is an agent? Avemco is an underwriter? SkySmith and Gallagher are agents. Any idea about BWI Fly, Travers, First Flight, and Aviation Insurance Resources? Or can each of them be both (i.e., write if they can write and shop around for those cases they can not write)?
 

Built2Fly

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My impression is that an agent is primarily valuable if the situation is a bit outside the norm. I'm not a fan of agents in general (Eg I buy my home and auto insurance directly).

That's a good point. I guess another value of the agents is that I only need to contact one agent who will talk to different underwriters (instead of me talking to multiple underwriters). The agents would know who the best underwriters are for my case and choose to talk to them.

I am guessing that one potential downside is that agent might tend to send my case to underwriters they know best and might miss some of the potential better choices. Basically getting my best interest is riding on their experience and integrity.

I guess my current case is probably better served by agents. Any recommendations (already quite a few good ones in this thread) would be appreciated.
 

Vigilant1

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That makes sense. So I guess I can potentially shop around among the underwriters, not among the agents. If I shop among the underwriters, each of them is contacted once by me and gives their one quote.
In this case, the implicit assumption is that you can make your case more effectively than an agent can make it. I'm an inveterate DIY type, but I think this deserves some careful consideration. Some issuers offer AOPA and EAA discounts, as well as other special discounts/ gimmies: A good agent will know, you'll have to ask. Likewise with other potential challenges to getting accepted/the best rate. I don't recall how agents are compensated, it's possible there's no price advantage by cutting out the middleman (agent).

Issuers:
Two that I normally get quotes from (through my agent) are:
AIG Aerospace
Global Aerospace

AIG is the issuer I have been with for a few years.
 

Built2Fly

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What is the nature of “the club”? Another option may be yo share a hangar with someone who already has one.

It is our local EAA chapter. The space is so limited that there is no hangar space available now and in foreseeable short term future. That's why I have to go with an outside tiedown at this point. I think sharing an hangar requires insurance too. There is no way around it.
 
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Built2Fly

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OK. I did some quick study on who are the underwriters / who are the agents. Here is what I found.

Underwriters: These are the companies with their names rarely mentioned here. As we know, being insurance company they are dealing with huge amount of money and they are usually huge companies. A list of names are Aerospace Insurance Partners, AIG Aerospace, Allianz, Global Aerospace, etc. @Vigilant1 mentioned a few of those. I don't think we can call them up and just get a quote because for their size it is not efficient to handle individual inquiries. We have to use an agent.

The only outlier is AVEMCO @Kyle Boatright mentioned. They are the "only direct writer" without middleman. Yes, we can call them directly.

Agents/Brokers: Almost every company mentioned in the previous messages of this thread are agents. Falcon, Travers, First Flight, BWI Fly, SkySmith, Gallagher, Aviation Insurance Resources, Avinsure. One easy way to tell is that their website usually list only a few agents or contact persons.

What you said is right. There are basically two bites, one with an agent/broker of your choice, and one with AVEMCO.

What I am still trying to figure out is if there is any different in *policy* by going with one agent versus another. From what I read, some agent are specialized for antique such as EAA, some agent are specialized for military person such as USAA, ultralight association has its recommended agent First Flight, and BWI Fly claimed that they pioneered C180 and helicopter program. It seems that each broker has their specialty (easy to understand), but also have some specialty program/policy that only they can offer (this is confusing).

Can someone who are familiar with the industry explain if there is any difference in policies for different brokers?
 

TFF

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Usually specialty is some type of group of a type with conditions. Maybe something like Bonanza pilots who are willing to get two hours a year CFI instruction and take their plane to a Beech service center for annuals. They might get a hundred and fifty owners to do that in a pool, and get a pool price. Some agents have more than one underwriter available to them and some only have one. Occasionally there might be a unicorn, but rarely. It’s also cyclical, you might get a quote right before price increases that looks like a better deal, but next year you are back in the swamp.

Avemeco is probably no; they seem very conservative. But no strikes if you try. Falcon, Ladd Garner, Gallagher seem to be where many go.

Right now insurance is tight. Aviation is a risky risk for them. They want your money and no crashes. First question you need to ask is if the agent insurers a plane like yours. Not many are, because there are not many of them out there. It’s a rare bird. It’s not as easy as it was.
 
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