Saturday, June 23, 2007

SAMAA Insurance Cover -- Piet le Roux

Piet makes some interesting comments here. I've asked Joe for a formal response from the SAMAA insurance broker but to date I have not had this. I'll post it when I get it. John

Like most of us I partake in this hobby for relaxation. Knowing that I am insured makes me more at ease while flying. But after reading INSURANCE SUMMERY in the March issue of SAMAA news and then reading the POLICY ON LODGING AND PROCESSING AN INSURANCE CLAIM issued by SAMAA I have a few questions about the policy.

The policy covers the association in respect of liability for injury or damage of property, arising out of the activities of the association and we are told that we are very fortunate to have this policy. I can appreciate that insurance in the aviation field is very expensive because of the high risk factor and the very expensive equipment involved. Most aircraft accidents also coincide with fatalities, very few people have been killed with model aircraft. To classify model flying as aviation in this case is nothing more than a sales pitch. The 10 million Rand cover sounds very impressive but the fact of the matter is that South African law does not allow for big liability claims like in the USA. To be successful with such a claim in the RSA you must first prove that the perpetrator could have foreseen the accident and did nothing to prevent it, or/and that he did not adhere to safety guide lines and therefore acted negligent. I would like to know what the biggest settlement claim in South Africa was when an accident occurred while nobody acted negligent? The problem is that the policy only covers the association if its members involved did not:

A) Fly reckless and dangerous.

B) Fly a model aircraft while under the influence of alcohol or judgment impairing drugs.

C) Operating a Model Aircraft which do not comply with the Manual of Procedures.

D) Intentionally fly over an active public thoroughfare, roads, over spectators or members of the public.

In other words did not act negligent.

So the 10 million cover now becomes a joke because there is absolutely no way that the association can be liable for that amount if no one acted negligent.

If the guidelines laid down by the association is found to be inadequate or the field registered by the association is found to be unsafe or/and there were not adequate signs to warn the public and as a result a liability claim against the association is successful, why should the member or members involved be responsible for payment of the excess amount? His club and the association are at fault and they should pay up. In any case remember it’s the association that’s insured and they are the policy holder so the association should pay the excess amount. If one takes in account the amount of member’s funds that was given to transformation in 2006-2007, it should be easy for the association to build up a reserve fund to pay any excess and assist members when an accident occurs.

The policy also does not cover the association against any accident involving a full size or manned aircraft because full-sized or manned aircraft have over riding right of way. This is unacceptable because any full-sized or manned aircraft that flies over a registered model airfield at a dangerous height is breaking the law. The model pilot have to keep his plane in sight at all times, if a full-size plane approaches from outside his field of view, he could react too late to avoid an accident. The plane could be a glider or had a dead stick, in which case he would not hear it coming. The model pilot could even be a deaf person.

The bottom line seems to be:

If an accident occurs while you were negligent or a court finds that you were negligent: you are not covered.

If the accident involves a full-size plane: you are not covered no matter what.

If you were not negligent: you are covered but you probably would not need it!

Piet Le Roux


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