Anatomy of an Aircraft Claim Part 2

Aerospace | 1/12/2022

Written By: Stuart Hope

As discussed last month, no aircraft owner thinks it will be their aircraft that has an accident. The fact your flight department has operated safely without accident or incident for years can give an owner a false sense of security. Some recent high-profile losses, however, confirm even companies operating with professional crews and well-maintained aircraft are not exempt. So best practice dictates aircraft owners and their flight departments recognize the possibility of an aircraft accident and be prepared for the call no one wants to receive.

The Loss

Your company aircraft is starting a long day of business travel with two executives, two prospective investors, and its crew of two pilots. On take-off, the aircraft fails to become airborne due to miscalculation of required runway length for its gross weight. The pilots try to abort the takeoff but are unable to stop the aircraft. It runs off the end of the runway and hits a berm, resulting in total destruction and leaving no survivors.

Your first notification of the tragedy comes when a news reporter calls your company receptionist asking if management will comment on its aircraft being involved in a catastrophic accident with multiple fatalities. Many business owners fail to consider one of the largest threats they have today: reputational risk, which is defined as ‘the risk of loss resulting from damages to a firm's reputation, in lost revenue; increased operating, capital or regulatory costs; or destruction of shareholder value, consequent to an adverse event’

Your Response

Compounded in large part by the pervasive role of social media, how you respond initially is critical! To start, let’s assume you have already invested the time to create a muscular emergency response plan (ERP), kept it an organic living document, and test it annually. Having taken those steps, your company is positioned for the best possible outcome. 

Initiating the emergency response plan is the very first step to take. Contacting your firm’s aviation insurance broker and/or your insurance company’s claims department and reporting the accident will be very high on the list in the ERP and should be one of the next actions. Accidents rarely happen during normal business hours.

Depending on circumstances, the insurance company may arrange to transport their closest representative to the accident site. Often their rep arrives before the FAA and NTSB. The insurance representative can also coordinate with your ERP team to provide an attorney with aviation expertise to assist with the accident investigation, interviews with the press, etc. In addition, they can help arrange for security at the accident site, contact the coroner, plan for repatriation of remains, help recover personal effects and consider possible site remediation due to contamination as dictated by the Environmental Protection Administration (EPA). Some insurers offer assistance or can refer sources with Emergency Response Planning expertise if needed.

Let’s be clear. You have a tremendous amount at stake, as does the insurance company. They will do their best to assist you and your firm in any way possible. AssuredPartners is no different and is here to help you in an emergency. Contact the AssuredPartners Aerospace team today to discuss more.