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FAA posts the Small Unmanned Aircraft Rule (Part 107)

UAS.jpgThe Part 107 Rule changes quite a few things, however, the most notable change will be the mandatory certification of drone operators which includes security vetting by TSA.  By law, the FAA has 60 days to fully implement the Rule which means that around mid-August, the FAA will have the process up and running and all commercial drone operators will need to initiate compliance efforts at that time.  Please refer to the FAA's website for the complete Rule, associated Advisory Circular, and information concerning additional developments at www.faa.gov/uas.  Berkley Aviation will require all drone operators to conduct commercial flights under either the Part 107 Rule or their Section 333 exemption if they have one; they may not operate under both.


 


This Rule is a step in the right direction as far as regulating the commercial use of drones and integrating drone operators – especially those with little or no prior aviation training - into our complicated airspace system.  Please contact either Robin Carbone or Jody Craig for UAS coverage options and information concerning our newly launched Berkley Flight automated quoting and policy issuance system designed specifically for the UAS market.

Star Wars

Some of us watched the world change in the late 1990s with the emergence of the tech industry. During that time numerous companies came out with valuations that were exceeding many Fortune 50 companies, but still weren’t forecasting any profits. Brokers brought the deals to the banks that underwrote the IPOs, and everyone got rich. AOL bought Time/Warner for $162B, Amazon’s market capitalization went from $800m in 1997 to $23b in 1999 and never made a profit, and countless start-ups ran through billions of dollars just to close down when the bubble burst. Everyone vowed to never invest in technology stocks again.

Fast forward 10 years….housing values sky rocket. It didn’t matter if you could afford a house; it was an investment. Today your house is worth $500,000, but next year it would be worth $750,000. It got to a point where people making less than $15,000/year were given mortgages on homes valued above $500,000. Refinancing your house 2-3 times over the course of a year or two became normal practice. It was easy because no one needed an application to fill out. You didn’t even need to prove your income or employment. These securities were highly rated by the biggest rating agencies in the world. Even if they failed, the largest insurance companies in the world were protecting us. Mortgage brokers were bringing as much in as possible and the underwriters insured everyone. Everyone was getting rich. What could go wrong?

I think you see where I’m going with this. Every 10 years there’s a bubble happening somewhere and we can’t see it. We had our moment of “irrational exuberance” that spanned from 2003 to 2005 and we’ve followed the same path. Can we blame over capacity and lots of capital or is that a red herring? No one is willing to stop spinning the wheel out of fear of the arrow pointing at them. How often does an underwriter accept a policy based on 3 lines of information? How many times does a broker ask for a “refinance”? How often does an underwriter say no?

The last 3 years have started to remove the notion that we are adding value to the transaction. We have become order placers and order takers. Why can’t a computer do that? We once took pride in the ability to analyze risk and establish a potential return on the capital invested. Too often now we simply review what is being offered and accept a line or not. Our bubble will burst, but the outcome for our industry will be transformative. We will see fewer people “building relationships” and more programmers providing higher returns for both brokerages and capital providers. You will go to the AIA bar and find it empty with the attendees drinking lattes and playing foosball, and the keynote speaker will be the latest actor from Star Wars. Hey maybe that’s a good thing! May the force be with you.

Non-Critical Manufacturers’ Products Liability

Berkley Aviation is flying into our second decade of operations by expanding our product offerings with the ability to write Non-Critical Manufacturers’ Products Liability. We are excited with our new line of business which helps us offer more to our brokers and their clients. We have many years of experience in this class as underwriters and are very keen to build out a portfolio of manufacturers to support our aviation community.

We can offer limits up to $100m with grounding liability maxed at $50m. It will be underwritten on StarNet Insurance Company paper which has one of the highest financial ratings in the aviation insurance community (AM Best A+ XV). It is admitted in all 50 states. Our target risks will be:

  • Raw material manufacturers
  • Parts manufacturers
  • Sub-component manufacturers

Risks will be evaluated based on their criticality to flight.  We will not be offering coverage for engine or airframe manufacturers, propeller or rotorblade manufacturers, structural fuselage or wing manufacturers.

Shel Huston, Senior Vice President, is spearheading this product line for us.  However, we would want the brokers to contact their underwriter who will be the point person on each risk for our distribution partners.

Please contact your underwriter for questions or email me, Jason Niemela, or Shel Huston.

Non-Owned Aviation Liability

Berkley Aviation has been a leader in the Non-Owned segment since our inception 10 years ago. We have always prided ourselves with our extensive knowledge in the segment and our ability to develop new coverages. We position ourselves to handle issues that become relevant in our changing market, watching the industry to make sure that we provide our clients with state of the art coverages.

Recently the FAA has defined Unmanned Aerial Vehicles as “aircraft.” This has made us re-evaluate the coverage offered in our Non-Owned policy. Do we intend to cover UAVs in our Non-Owned policy? Are the existing definitions accurate based on new changes being made? Are we able to identify differences in use that may present themselves with the widespread operation of drones?

There are hundreds of thousands of drones being sold every year. We know that many owners are using their UAVs on company business, and in many cases, they are not advising their company’s risk manager. This activity is leaving the company with potential coverage gaps. This is where our enhancement to our insurance product comes into play. Going forward, we will be offering $1,000,000 of coverage for Non-Owned UAVs on all of our Non-Owned policies. This is our effort to ensure that our clients know that their aviation exposures are being evaluated and new products are being delivered to protect their assets.

If you have any questions on the Non-Owned coverage extension for UAVs please contact our Non-Owned department. Diane Beane (Western Regional Manager) or Robin Camacho.

Going Direct

It’s not what everyone thought it would be. I know I just struck fear into many brokers who read the title, but in many cases it has already begun. No, it’s not advancements in IT or smart phones that have made it easier to have only one contact for the insureds’ to access the markets. What many don’t yet realize is that it’s the brokers that have gone direct. It appears that a majority of underwriting markets have given up any resemblance of actual underwriting and simply sign on to broker slips at offered premiums. No longer are underwriters evaluating exposures, risk factors, regulatory factors, or it seems even using a calculator. They simply get to agree to a premium by the broker based on 3, 5, 10, or 11 years of loss ratios or whatever provides the best picture of the client.

Sure, there are companies using software to develop premiums, and they quote their terms to the broker. But the broker has all of the leverage since they simply load it into a spreadsheet with everyone’s quote removing any further discussion on actual exposures. Submissions have become four line pieces of irrelevant underwriting information; name, city, state, limit needed, value, pilot name, and some hours. Quote it or don’t because there are several other companies willing to offer terms!

If I were a capital provider today and I was asked to get into the aviation market, I would jump on it. But I would do it much differently, I wouldn’t hire a single underwriter. I would hire an accountant to make sure I was collecting the premiums that were agreed to and the ones I was told I could get from the broker. If you think this is dramatic just think of the lineslips each of the large brokerage firms have. They simply provide bordereaux reports of the risks the company has contractually accepted. Is there any underwriting going on?

A big announcement was made last year by Google. They have entered the insurance market with an unbelievable amount of data. They didn’t jump into the insurance company side, they simply became an aggregator of quotes. They provide a spreadsheet with 10 different quotes. Sound familiar? If we can’t provide value to a transaction what is our value. Aviation specialists are part of the highest paid teams in the insurance market, which makes them the easiest target from the capital providers to cut.

We talk about excess capital and how that has changed everything. But I would argue that underwriting companies haven’t adapted fast enough to understand the implications of increased competition. Are underwriters focused on the bottom line or short-term job preservation?

The underwriter is dead. Long live the broker!

Who is Berkley Aviation?

It was a long time ago that I started in the aviation insurance industry.  It was interesting to learn that you did most of your business over the phone and fax machine, but didn’t get that much time to meet in person.  So in many cases you would be doing business with people that you never met.  How can this be a relationship business with people you’ve never met?  Well it was a little easier when we actually talked on the phone.  Now a days, I’m not quite sure how you can build a trust relationship by emailing and limiting your time on the phone. 

I feel the most important part of our business is built on a trust between the broker, the insurance and the underwriter.  This can only be built over time and through the actions of all parties.  Many things get lost in translation on an email where things can be misinterpreted or worse yet in a fit of angst an email gets sent without taking the time to think an issue through.  I’ve wondered how to solve the problem, and at times walk around the office checking the phone logs to see how much time is spent on the phone, and to my dismay there was very little time really building relationships.  So I wanted to highlight some of our team here at Berkley Aviation so you can get to know us.

Berkley Aviation was built person by person to fill both the role of employee, but also be part of a team that can bond and support each other.  We try to get together regularly after work to have a bit of fun.


Locally in Santa Barbara we have a place called the “Painted Cabernet” where you can paint and have a nice glass of wine.  Kadie Skillingstad, Megan Millang, Tony Park, Dara Harrison and Robin Camacho painted the W.R. Berkley Corporation mascot. 

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We also like to take the team and few guests from the Teddy Bear Cancer Foundation to the Staples Center for a Lakers or Kings game. 
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We get together to raise awareness for issues that affect our community.  Here we participated in the Autism Speaks annual Autism Walks event.


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Our annual picnic - picture taken from a camera mounted on our DJI Phantom drone!
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We have come a long way since 2005 when Berkley Aviation was formed.  No one could have predicted the market conditions that we all are in, but by building such a tight team here in Santa Barbara and now in Boston and Atlanta we want you to know us and know that we’re here for you and your clients.

What does Berkley Aviation Underwrite?

We get a lot of questions about what type of business we want or like to underwrite.  At this past HAI we got a lot of questions about underwriting helicopters.  It seems to be a common misconception that we are not in the rotorwing market when in fact we’ve always been in that market.  Many people don’t know that we have a large book of CGL business.  So it seems we’ve not done a great job in advising our broker network of our risk appetite.

Last year we noticed that we had not been seeing the volume of submissions that we thought were available.  After some informal discussions we realized that our original plan in 2006 to only see certain classes of risks was still in most peoples’ minds.  So we’ve made a big push to get out the message that we’d like to see more submissions.  And in 2014 it worked and we saw an increase of over 20%. For 2015 we continue to push to see more and already we are up 20% during this first quarter.

The clear message that we want our brokers to know is that we like all types of aviation risks with only a few areas that we do not underwrite.  We are not a market for manufacturers’ products liability or work comp, but beyond that we are always interested in offering terms on aviation risks that fall within our liability limits.

Our limits for risks are outlined below, but we do have the ability to do more on some risks and therefor these numbers should be used as our basic abilities and not our “never-to-exceed” numbers.

Risk Limit
Aircraft (fixed and rotor wing): Hull: $10,000,000
  Liability: $100,000,000
CGL: Liability: $100,000,000
Airports: Liability: $100,000,000
Non-Owned: Liability: $100,000,000
Airlines (US Based risks) Hull: $10,000,000 (our share)
  Liability: $50,000,000 (our share)



If you have any questions on a risk, please call your underwriter to be sure we understand your risks.  If you run into a wall with the other markets, please be sure to let us know and we can try to take a second look.

Mergers and Acquisitions

Every industry goes through a different cycle of ups and downs.  Obviously we’re no different, but it seems like the downs are getting much longer and the ups are few and far between.  Many companies feel the only way out of this market doldrums is through mergers and/or acquisitions.  When capacity in the insurance industry is so plentiful and so much capital is sitting on the sidelines, it’s very hard to imagine the potential of an upswing in our soft market cycle.   So many companies have turned to the M & A side to boost their potential profits and try to reduce capacity in some ways.  This isn’t about aviation insurance, but rather the insurance industry as a whole.

Some people think that in order to be a major player in the insurance market you need to be excess of $10b in written premiums or you’ll end up marginalized and second tier capacity with the potential of not seeing the very profitable property cat premiums.  It has many companies looking around to see who they can acquire or merge to achieve the larger premium base.  Some say that is the reason behind the XL and Catlin and the Axis and Partner Re mergers.  Articles in Insurance Insider are pointing towards many more mergers to come listing some companies and their potential “need” to be acquired in order to be competitive. 

For the aviation market, we’ve seen a couple that involve our US book.  Fosun, a Chinese investment company recently acquired Meadowbrook and also took over a majority stake in IronShore.  XL and Catlin will need to be ironed out, but don’t expect a reduction in capacity from this transaction in the states.  We are seeing many of the international operations especially some of the independent Lloyd’s syndicates looking like good targets based on the recently announced acquisition of Brit Syndicate by Fairfax Holdings

Don’t be fooled that these few transactions will change the market, in fact S & P has said not to bet on a hardening market based on the recent mergers.  The synergies created by the combination of the companies joining forces are not enough to improve the long term results.  The one thing that seems very clear is that we will see some name changes in our industry and unfortunately we will see some job losses.  My recommendation for the aviators is to focus on what you do best and keep your results positive and I’m sure there will be a position for you in our industry of the future.

Berkley Aviation Expansion

We are very pleased to announce some major advancement in our overall operation.  Over the past few years we have been watching the market to see where we could expand without simply adding capacity.  First and foremost we were looking to find the best employees that fit with our underwriting philosophy and team.  It has taken some time, but we are pleased to advise our geographical expansion into the Southeast, South and Northeast.



Atlanta, GA

Atlanta OfficeWe have chosen Atlanta as our headquarters for both the Southeast Region and the South Region.  Atlanta has been one of the strongest aviation insurance locations in the US for many years and has great access to all points around the globe.  W. R. Berkley Corporation has a large presence in the city which has made our expansion much easier logistically.  We have recently hired two very experienced and highly regarded underwriters to manage these two territories.

Kris Parsons has joined us as Vice President and Southeastern Regional Manager.  The territory he will oversee includes Florida, Georgia, Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina, Alabama, Mississippi, Virginia, West Virginia and Kentucky.  Kris can be reached on his cell at 770.362.5516 or email him at kparsons@berkleyaviation.com

Scott Setzer joined us as Vice President and South Regional Manager.  The territory he will oversee includes Louisiana, Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Missouri.  Scott can be reached on his cell at 404.918.7069 or email him at ssetzer@berkleyaviation.com



Boston, MA

Our current office location in New Jersey will move to Boston effective immediately.  Again we are utilizing our sister companies to provide office space.  We will access much of the northeastern region from Boston.  This allows us much better access to the New England area and northern New York and Ohio areas.

 

 Terry White is relocating to the Boston area and will continue as Vice President and Northeastern Regional Manager.

We are pleased to announce that Zach Boukram has joined us and will be relocating to Boston to work with Terry to build up our presence even more than we already have done.  



Relationships

We know many of you already have existing relationships here at Berkley Aviation and we want to let you decide who it is you want to work with.  We feel by being closer to you that we can better serve your needs and build stronger relationships with you and the insureds.  Our territories are not etched in stone, but left for open discussions with you and us.

W. R. Berkley’s Best Kept Secret

Regional Excess UnderwritersDid you know the W. R. Berkley Corporation is made up of 49 independent operating units, each specializing in their own niche market?

Regional Excess Underwriters (REU) is one of those companies. As a Berkley Aviation broker, you also have direct access to REU (www.regionalxs.com)

REU is the wholesale brokerage unit of W. R. Berkley Corporation (WRBC) and can help you access and navigate through the various operating units within WRBC, and the entire excess & surplus marketplace. REU is a full-service E&S brokerage operation, with a mixture of transactional brokerage markets, contract binding/underwriting markets, and niche programs. We are licensed in all 50 states, with ten locations around the nation. Locations currently include: Nevada, Seattle, Denver, Iowa, Illinois, Florida, North Carolina, West Virginia and Maine.

REU offers services to agents contracted with W. R. Berkley companies, like you, and select independent agents across the nation.

Markets
REU works with over 150 different markets across the world, including Bermuda and London markets, twenty-five (25) of which are part of the W. R. Berkley Corporation. You will have access to some unique W. R. Berkley Corporation markets:

American Mining Insurance Co. (Specializes in mining & mining related risks)
Riverport Insurance Co. (Specializes in human services, sports & recreation, and child care)
Berkley FinSecure (specializes in banks & financial institutions)
Berkley Asset Protection (specializes in fine arts, jewelers block and crime)
Gemini Transportation (specializes in excess trucking  and railroad liability)
Berkley Select (specializes in allied medical and regional hospitals)
Berkley Life Sciences (specializes in neutraceuticals, implants, pharmaceuticals, and more)
Berkley Public Entity (specializes in public entities)
Carolina Casualty (specializes short and long-haul trucking)
Preferred Employers (specializes in California workers compensation)
VELA Insurance Services (specializes in general casualty and professional liability)
VERUS Underwriting Managers (specializes in general casualty, property & garage)



Berkley Solutions
There are a few specific collaborations between W. R. Berkley Companies designed to provide solutions (Berkley Solutions) for you.

Some include: Sports & Entertainment, Workers Compensation, Environmental Liability, Outdoor Activities, Equine, Equine Mortality, and Life Sciences.

Berkley Concierge
No reason to memorize the W. R. Berkley markets or their specialties. We have an "online concierge" called Berkley Concierge. Access the link by logging onto www.regionalxs.com and creating a log-in through our agency portal.

Berkley Concierge will allow you to search for the appropriate W. R. Berkley company by typing in the SIC code of your customer. Don’t know the code? No problem- you can also search by key words. Access is only available to W. R. Berkley appointed agents.

Ease of Doing Business
As a broker of Berkley Aviation you do not need to complete any preceding paperwork before accessing REU.

REU will pursue placement of your risk and then present a quotation. When you are ready to bind a quotation, you will then need to complete the appointment documents for REU.

For more product and company information, please visit the REU website at www.regionalxs.com.

We look forward to the opportunity to work with you.

Unmanned Aerial Systems

Unmanned Aerial Systems

Lately there has been a lot of discussion on Unmanned Aerial Systems. 60 Minutes showed Amazon’s delivery plans; new companies are popping up with delivery services for anything from prescription medication to beer deliveries on frozen lakes. In a recent ruling we saw the courts strike down the FAA’s oversight of commercial operations (for the time being). This has elevated the status of UAS to the next big thing -– and for once I think they’re right!

UAV Aerial ViewThese flying systems are not futuristic fantasies; they’re flying today in almost every city in the country. The flight controllers are as sophisticated as many systems in manned aircraft. The technologies being developed everyday in universities around the world are revolutionary in the most exciting of ways. The impact that these UAS will have on our lives over the next 20 years will be significant. These systems are in the same state that our aircraft industry was in the 1920s. At that time, there were many manufactures with different ideas and models. Commercial service was really getting more traction, but uses seemed limited to wealthy and the military. Then came consolidation and technological advances and today we have vehicles getting ready to deliver us into space. It won’t take 100 years to get as advanced in the UAS industry rather I think we will track the same trajectory that the internet did. Development of better systems is being done in garages and workshops around the world. Ideas that will help improve our lives will become more evident as we progress with the expansion of these vehicles.

The insurance market is trying to help, but in the rush to supply coverage for these systems most companies have not applied enough thought to the coverage they offer. We are seeing coverage applied to aircraft hull and liability policies and some “Frankenstein” forms to insure the unmanned vehicles. The problem with this is many of the coverages, wordings and exclusions do not accurately apply to UAV and related systems. For example, on manned aircraft premises, coverage is provided where you store or base your aircraft - typically an airport. However where do you store your UAV, in your car, your house, your office? It is hard to imagine that underwriters and actuaries have been able to evaluate and price the exposures associated with covering this expanded premises, dog bites, slip and falls, or other non-aviation related issues. Another question, are underwriters planning to cover mental anguish when a UAV crashes during a sporting event and claims are made for fear of things dropping from the sky? It’s an embarrassment to our industry that we can so quickly jump into something, but decide not to evaluate it properly to make sure we are actually helping. It is concerning, to say the least, that our industry would quickly jump into something without proper evaluation. It seems there are many issues that need to be addressed in order to make sure we are actually helping.

One issue that needs to be addressed is Physical damage coverage. What is a total loss, what is considered a partial? Who can repair and what makes them qualified? How are vehicles identified - do you know which vehicle is your insured’s as many don’t have serial numbers (keep in mind many owners buy parts and components and build these systems at home). Are insurers going to send adjusters out to the loss site? Are all occurrences advised?

So what are we doing at Berkley Aviation? As is true for most all companies we employ pilots, mechanics, and aviation engineers to better understand the issues around our typical manned aviation products. So in an effort to better understand the nuances of this category, we bought our own UAS – a DJI Phantom II Vision – a small, simple quad copter that is almost ready out of the box. We have been flying it and learning what it’s like to fly, crash, test the limits and maintain them. We have flown it in different situations and have become proficient in its operations. This has enabled us to see the issues around learning to fly and why some basic training is needed. We can see the need to have a multi-person crew for filming. We know what minimum number of satellites it operates best at. We also learned what happens when a rotor blade comes into contact with a person. Through firsthand experience, we know how often they crash and how many people get drawn to watching them fly. One of the main points we have gathered from our experience is that these vehicles are not aircraft and shouldn’t be insured like one.

We have written a policy form specifically for these vehicles with definitions, exclusions and coverage components that apply to the exposures that we intended. We aren’t willing, in most cases, to provide hull coverage at this time, there are too many issues that need to be resolved in order to provide our legally required services. We have a form that reflects the coverages that we intend to provide.

It’s important in this industry to be a leader, but being first doesn’t mean you can lead. All too often speed to market is rewarded, but I fear the lack of detail will provide years of legal suits. Some people will think that ambiguity always goes in the favor of the client, but when your insurer sues you to reform a policy who is really going to pay?

Berkley Insures Fine Art and Jewelry

What does aviation have to do with fine art and jewelry? Well, not much … aside from our opinion that an airplane is a thing of beauty. And, we want you to know that Berkley Asset Protection provides a complete line of insurance and loss control for another niche market: art galleries, museums, jewelry businesses, individual’s precious collections and other clients with high-value assets to protect.

Perhaps this is an expansion opportunity for your brokerage, or you may have current clients who would benefit from the coordinated, expert coverage you’ve come to expect from a W. R. Berkley company.

Berkley Asset Protection staff possesses in-depth knowledge and experience in high-value assets and how to insure them. Its Fine Arts Policy and Jewelers Block can be combined with appropriate business coverages to create a custom, comprehensive insurance solution.

Jewelers Block 
Berkley Asset Protection understands the needs of the jewelry industry and what it takes to protect these unique jewelry exposures. 
Target markets include:

  • Retailers
  • Wholesalers
  • Manufactures
  • Watch Trade
  • Designers

Fine Arts Portfolio 
They also understand the “priceless” nature of fine arts, including their historical relevance and importance. With a comprehensive insurance and loss control program, Berkley Asset Protection provides coverage for all types of artwork and collectibles. 
Target markets include:

  • Museums and exhibitions
  • Historical societies
  • Universities, schools and colleges
  • Dealers – fine art, antique or other historic property
  • Corporate collections

Precious Collections 
For Berkley Asset Protection, providing insurance for individuals’ precious collections isn’t just a sideline. They offer broad solutions, including all-risk and mysterious disappearance coverage for personal collections, including jewelry, fine art, antiques, stamps, coins, sports memorabilia and other collections of rare or historic nature.

ADDITIONAL COVERAGES FOR HIGH-VALUE ASSETS

  • Money, Securities, Precious Metals
    Businesses with high-value exposures involving money, securities, and/or precious metals can be at greater risk of loss. Target market segments include armored cars, check cashers, pawn, casinos, mining, and ATMs, among others.

  • Fidelity and Crime
    Berkley Asset Protection offers fidelity/crime-related coverage for commercial public and private companies, financial institutions and governmental entities.

  • Kidnap, Ransom and Extortion (KRE)
    This program covers ransom amounts, personal accident, other associated expenses and unlimited fees/expenses for Control Risks Group, a top-rated crisis response company that handles KRE situations.

For information about Berkley Asset Protection, visit www.BerkleyAssetPro.com or contact:

  • Melissa Becker, CIC CPCU
  • Assistant Vice President Sales and Marketing Leader
  • Berkley Asset Protection Underwriting Managers (A W.R. Berkley Company)
  • Business: 330-748-4445 | Mobile: 330-697-4151
  • mbecker@berkleyassetpro.com | www.BerkleyAssetPro.com

Aviation Insurance 101 - Part 2: Reinsurance Proportional

Aviation101_plane.jpgIn part 1 of the reinsurance discussion we focused on the non-proportional treaty reinsurance commonly known as Excess of Loss (XOL). In this part we will discuss proportional treaty reinsurance which is better known as Quota Share reinsurance. Quota share treaties are written to protect the insurance company or cedent by taking a percentage of the risk.

Quota Share treaties are written based on the actual performance of the underwriting of the insurance company. The reinsurers will offer to protect the cedent for a percentage of the business outlined in the contract. For example the reinsurance company may offer a 20% line on all risks subject to the contract and the cedent will have 80% of the risk. The reinsurance company must have a lot of faith in an insurance company in order to write this type of business since they will get 20% of every loss from dollar one. The benefit for the reinsurance company is the get access to what they believe will be profitable business. The cedent likes this business because they can control their downside risk and also charge a ceding commission.

As with most reinsurance it isn’t an easy choice to simply buy this coverage. If an insurance company is writing very profitable business why would they want to share the profits with another company? And the other side is why would a reinsurer want to write business that isn’t going to make a profit? This type of reinsurance really requires a good relationship between the reinsurer and reinsured. There must be trust that each company will do what they say they will. Transparency is the key to building a long-term reinsurance relationship in the proportional treaty segment.

Unlike the XOL programs we talked about in Part 1, there are no reinstatement provisions. So if there is a loss the reinsurer doesn’t get the opportunity to collect more reinsurance premium. The two companies are bound together by the results of the primary account for the duration of the contract.

Each treaty can build up as much capacity as needed. In some cases the insurance company doesn’t want to take ANY risk and will by 100% quota share capacity. In this case they will utilize their paper to offer coverage and do this for the fee that reinsurers are willing to pay. Another important point is that each type of treaty reinsurance can be purchased as a stand-alone coverage or in combination with the two types. In some cases an insurance company likes to work with long-term partners to offer them the ability to benefit in the direct business, but still protect their capital with a XOL program. In Exhibit A you can see three basic examples for a reinsurance program that has a $50m limit. One is a QS treaty, the second is an XOL treaty and the third is combination of the first two. The combinations are endless, but as you can see the XOL reinsurers take on the layers that they want and miss the first dollar losses (which typically are a vast majority) and the QS partners take a proportion of every dollar of loss.

When evaluating any reinsurance treaty program each company will spend time understanding their portfolio, loss history, planned changes in the next treaty year, rating agency concerns, and capital requirements. It isn’t a simple decision to decide how much to buy, how many reinstatements are needed, is clash coverage for one or two events important, market conditions, etc. Each year a team of people will get together at the insurance companies to discuss what they feel is needed and each will come up with what they feel is going to fit their needs for the next twelve months. The reinsurance is typically the highest non-claim expense for an insurer. If you pick wrong it can be the difference between profit or loss.

Examples of a $50m reinsurance program:

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What Do We Write?

Here at Berkley Aviation we are in our 9th year of business. For most of the first 5 years of operations we kept a low profile choosing to focus on risks that we knew very well and not to disrupt what was happening in the market. We saw many new start ups occur during that period and have watched as each has cut a wide swath to build up market share. We still felt that we could help our clients more if we continued our stealth approach and offer consistent products and coverages. The problem with being out of sight so much is that people don’t know what we want to write. So I thought I would put a few statistics together.

We can write liability limits of up to $100m on aircraft, rotorwing, airports and CGL risks. While this may not be $500m that others can write it will handle over 90% of the risks. The same is true for hulls which we can insure for up to $10m. We feel that the small number of risks that need limits in excess of these amounts do not provide an adequate risk adjusted return after the hefty costs associated with reinsurance and the low rates.

We wanted to put some of our statistics together for you to see. So far in the first quarter of 2014 our book is made a bit diverse based on the following averages: 

Average Hull Value Insured: $827,000
Average Liability Limit Insured: $8,600,000
Berkley Aviation Aircraft By Type

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Average Aircraft Age: 34 years old
Most Aircraft Make: Cessna
Most Aircraft Model: Citation
Turbine Fleet: 39%

We are looking to expand our turbine and turbo-prop fleet in the $1m to $8m range. We like to evaluate each risk based on its own needs and characteristics. 

On CGL and airport risks we are open to all types based on our liability limits. However we do find risks that have heavy piston and/or propeller overhaul as a more difficult risk and would only be interested in small following lines with low limits, if at all. Our growth in account volume in this segment is one of our fastest.

When in doubt give a call to your underwriter and we’d be happy to help you on your risks. 

Berkley Specialty Underwriting Managers

Berkley Aviation would like to remind you of our partnership with Berkley Specialty Underwriting Managers (BSUM) Environmental Division to provide pollution coverage for the Aviation Industry. The program has resulted in numerous environmental placements for FBOs, Aircraft Hangars, and Maintenance and Repair Facilities.

Some of the Advantages of BSUM Environmental:

  • We write on behalf of W. R. Berkley Corporation member insurance companies, rated A+ (Superior) by A.M. Best
  • Our 24/7 Spill Response Dispatch available to our Insured
  • Dedicated Environmental Claims Handling Team
  • Centralized Environmental Underwriting Team dedicated to our Aviation Partners

Some of the Advantages associated with Environmental Product:

  • First and third party cleanup cost of pollution conditions at, on, under, or migrating from a covered location
  • Third party bodily injury and property damage including natural resource damage and diminution in value
  • Coverage for Fixed Base Operator anywhere on airport property Coverage for aircraft refueling, deicing, and maintenance
  • Coverage is provided for non-owned disposal sites on an unscheduled basis
  • No age restrictions on underground storage tanks
  • Coverage for underground/above ground storage tanks, with the ability to include financial responsibility

Below you will find claims scenarios*, which many of your customers may find of interest. The SSP policy form provides coverage for a wide variety of pollution exposures faced by the Aviation Industry.

  • A aircraft repair and maintenance facility had disposed of waste material through a service provider for the past few years. The facility was notified by the EPA that the disposal facility was insolvent and they were a de minimus potentially responsible party (PRP). The settlement request for cleanup was $180,000.
  • During deicing activities, a fixed base operator allowed contaminants to enter a stream adjacent to the airport property. Costly remediation of soils and groundwater were required. The state environmental agency also required the fixed base operator to pay for natural resource damages due to the impact on protected waterways.
  • A ruptured fuel hose spilled a few thousand gallon of jet fuel onto the ground at a regional airport. The fuel eventually reached an adjacent river. The contractor responsible for fueling operations paid significant clean-up costs for soil and groundwater as a result of failing to adequately maintain the fueling equipment. Remediation included excavating contaminated soil as well as clean-up of groundwater and surface water.

*These are general examples; any claim would be addressed under the facts unique to it and the relevant policy terms and conditions.

Edwin Baez | Vice President - Environmental
Berkley Specialty Underwriting Managers (a W. R. Berkley Company)
Office: 201-748-3038 | Mobile: 646-283-5192
ebaez@berkleysum.com
Berkley Specialty | BSUM - LinkedIn

Aviation Insurance 101 - Part 1: Reinsurance

Aviation101_plane.jpgMany wonder how an aviation insurance company can offer coverage for such a high severity/low frequency exposure. There are very few companies that can offer the limits and retentions that aviation insurers can handle, but the only way this can be accomplished is with reinsurance. Essentially insurance for an insurance company.

Aviation insurance is a capital intensive coverage, where insurers commonly offer limits exceeding $100,000,000 (!). Taken to theoretical extremes, this could result in astronomical payouts. Naturally, this fact puts a strain on the capital requirements from rating companies like A.M. Best which in turn can lower your financial ratings.

In order to mitigate the amount of capital allocated for limits offered, the insurers are often wise to pass some of the risk to reinsurers, by buying reinsurance. In other words, just as there is a market for an aircraft owner to buy coverage for their hull and liability, there is a market that offers an aviation insurer coverage, to limit the downside of some of these very high limits.

Yes, hindsight is always 20/20 with any kind of insurance. But prior to buying reinsurance, companies can play the odds by carefully evaluating their own book of business, business strategy, loss history and risk appetite. Armed with a solid understanding of reinsurance options, companies can optimize a re-insurance plan to meet their unique needs.

For starters, here’s a brief lay of the land. There are two main types of reinsurance – Treaty Reinsurance (annual or longer term coverage) and Facultative Reinsurance (one off placements usually). These two types can be purchased separately or together in a blended approach. Within the category of Treaty Insurance, there are two ways to go: proportional or non-proportional, the latter also known as Excess of Loss (XOL).

Let’s start by focusing on Excess of Loss (XOL), because it’s so common, and an efficient springboard for understanding reinsurance. XOL provides coverage for losses in excess of a certain retention. Programs are typically divided into layers of coverage, up to the limit desired by the insurer. Policies are written with different clauses based on company preference and are renegotiated annually. In any given program there may be a combination of reinsurers participating, each with its own appetite for different coverages and layers.
Take a look at a hypothetical XOL program in excess of a $1m Retention, to a maximum recovery limit of $10m.

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The retention of the insurance company (reinsured) is the first $1,000,000 of any loss. In the event of a loss of $5,000,000, the reinsured retains the first $1,000,000; the next $3,000,000 (100%) is paid by the first layer of the XOL program, and there would be $1,000,000 (50%) of the second layer. Therefore, the GROSS recovery in this example is $4,000,000 from the reinsurers.

But that’s merely part of the story. It’s crucial to consider the NET recovery – after all, the reinsured pays a premium to the reinsurer for reinsurance coverage. This premium is rated using what’s called a rate on line (ROL). For layer one, let’s say the ROL is 25%, making the premium $750,000 (25% of the $3m line); layer two’s ROL is 10%, or $200,000; and layer three’s ROL is 5%, or $200,000. The entire premium comes to $1,150,000.

But there’s more to consider: in addition to the premiums due upfront, there’s a reinstatement premium shown for each layer, usually shown as a percentage. In the case of the above, layer one has a 100% reinstatement premium, layer two has a 100% reinstatement premium, and layer three has a 50% reinstatement premium. This means if you use the layer, you’ll have to pay an additional amount. In our example, after the $5m loss, the reinsurers will charge another $750,000 for layer one, and since we only used 50% of layer two, we would get charged 50% of 50%...or $50,000. Finally, the insurer must deduct the costs of the reinstatement premiums from the GROSS recovery, which then gives a NET recovery of $3,200,000.

Still with me? Yes, reinsurance can be complex, but the main takeaway is simple: in the field of aviation insurance, reinsurance programs are a cost of doing business. The example highlights a loss, but the simple fact is, premiums paid for a reinsurance program are expenses that come off the insurer’s bottom line. While it affords coverage and protection from catastrophic losses, it isn’t the same as insurance where the object is to make you whole. Some companies are of the philosophy that only buying coverage for super catastrophic losses is the best way to go, while others buys coverage with very low retentions. There’s no one-size-fits-all answer, and hindsight is indeed 20/20. But as companies begin to understand the nuances of reinsurance options, some measure of prudent foresight can be gained.

In our future installments we will be discussing proportional and facultative reinsurance.

Super Producer Aircraft Model

Being in the insurance industry usually isn’t the most glamorous career, but when you add in aviation to any degree jobs are looked at from a different perspective. We get to be involved in an area most people can only dream about. So with that in mind we like to be sure the stars of our industry are put front and center. Here at Berkley Aviation we do that with our annual Super Producer Aircraft Model. We have been doing this to recognize people that have supported us and are building strong and valued relationships with the BAV team.

2009


Falcon 7X img1.jpgIn 2009, our first model was the Falcon 7X.






2010


PC-12 img1.jpgIn 2010, we moved to an aircraft that the Berkley Aviation team had always admired and enjoyed insuring. It was the PC-12. PC-12





2011


Boeing 787 img1.jpgBoeing 787 In 2011 we had to recognize the latest Boeing aircraft and the changes that this new aircraft bought to the world. Improved fuel efficiencies and a redesigned cabin for passenger comfort, the Boeing 787 was truly a game changer in the airline industry.




2012


Bell 525 img1.jpgFor 2012 we again changed direction and moved to the Bell 525 Relentless which was a new helicopter in the super mid-size category. The advances in flight technology will help improve safety through minimizing pilot fatigue. Bell 525




2013


Beech 18 img1.jpgBeech 18 In 2013 we moved back to the glory days of flying and added to the fleet our Beech 18 on floats. It is a tribute to the basics of flying and the utility of our old aircraft fleets.





It’s a lot of fun picking the new model each year. We design the new paint scheme which has adapted over the years. Each of the team has their favorite which continues to show the diversity that is inherent in aviation and aviation insurance. We love giving these out and we award these to people that go above and beyond not only in premium and losses, but in supporting our aviation industry. We take pride in who is selected to receive this model.

Berkley Aviation Selects the Beech 18 as the 2013 Super Producer Model

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Santa Barbara, CA, December 15, 2013 -- Berkley Aviation, a W. R. Berkley Company, today announced the Beech 18 on floats as the 2013 Super Producer Model. Every year we carefully select a model aircraft – something that inspires us and sets the tone for the year to come. As a gesture of gratitude, we send these models to only our top performing brokers. In years past, we’ve sent a Boeing 787, Bell 525 and Falcon 7X. Each showing the outstanding achievements that raise the bar for distance flown, fuel efficiency and comfort. But this year we’ve decided to reflect on something a little different: the idea that with all this progress, some things never change. Great advancements in the way we fly depend on a mastery of basics. Adaptability, versatility, hard work and common sense are the underpinnings of not only aviation, but aviation insurance. To commemorate 2013, we’ve chosen the Beechcraft 18.

As the longest continuous production run for a piston aircraft, Beech produced 8,000 Model 18s. It’s versatile and solid with timeless attributes that insured its longevity. The ability to adapt to the new requirements of changing times, given its limitations, is a testament to aircraft’s solid adherence to the timeless basics of flying.

We think it is important for the aviation insurance industry to focus on the basics. The majority of the market isn’t emphasizing true underwriting skills. Instead, many companies try to buy market share or write through unprofitable years. They seem to have forgotten the basic responsibility to our shareholders: profit. These short-sighted views will have a dramatic negative effect on some careers. To succeed, we must remember that skill, drive and determination, tempered with experience and talent, lead to longevity in our industry.

Berkley Aviation Names Peter Jarrett Executive Vice President, Chief Operating Officer and Chief Financial Officer

Santa Barbara, CA, November 1, 2013 --  Berkley Aviation, a W. R. Berkley Company, today announced that Peter Jarrett has been named Executive Vice President, Chief Operating Officer and Chief Financial Officer.  Mr. Jarrett will be based in Santa Barbara.   

Mr. Jarrett has over 30 years of experience in the insurance industry and most recently served as the COO and CFO of another aviation insurance company. 

Jason Niemela, President of Berkley Aviation, said “Peter is a proven aviation insurance leader with a long history in our industry.  His leadership qualities and knowledge will help guide Berkley Aviation as we look toward our second decade of operations.”   

Founded in 2005, Berkley Aviation is a premier underwriting manager of aviation insurance, offering a wide range of coverage options to insureds both domestically and internationally. We are a member company of  W. R. Berkley Corporation, one of the nation’s premier commercial lines property casualty insurance providers. 

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