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The insurance problem
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Ken Andrews
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PostPosted: Tue Dec 22, 2015 3:00 pm    Post subject: The insurance problem Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Mark Forbes has posted lots of excellent information about insurance and the RRG on the USHPA website. If you haven't read it, I'll encourage you to visit the "Information Center and FAQ" at https://www.ushpa.aero/freeflightforever.asp. It's also well worth logging in to the Members area and clicking on the Insurance tab.

Here, I've attempted to summarize some of that information, and hopefully this provides answers to some of the questions that have been raised on this forum.

To take the story from the beginning, we all know that there are real risks in hang gliding, and so the responsible pilot, and instructor, and flight school, and landowner, should have insurance. As a service to the sport, USHPA has arranged for such insurance policies. We get liability insurance by being USHPA pilot members, as do instructors by being Rogallo members; flying sites get insurance by being USHPA chapters, and landowners do by being listed as an additional site by a chapter.

I've gradually learned that all hang gliding insurance, whatever retail insurance agency has sold it, has ultimately been backed by Lloyds of London, which is the source of most of the specialist insurance in the world. Unfortunately, there have been enough hang gliding and paragliding lawsuits in the last couple years that Lloyds has decided to stop insuring these sports, no matter what, at any price.

That means it will be impossible to buy hang gliding insurance after March 1. Individual pilots might accept the risk and fly without liability insurance, but most instructors and and flying sites can't do that. For these to survive, our only option is to start our own insurance company, known as a Risk Retention Group, or RRG. To do so, we need to find enough money to get it started, and that's estimated to be $2 million. After that, if we fly safely and there aren't many lawsuits, then the RRG should make a profit. That profit will be used first to stabilize the RRG's accounts, and then to pay back its debts, and eventually to lower membership dues again. If we don't fly safely and those lawsuits do happen, then the RRG goes bankrupt, and we're done.

An RRG is an independent company, owned by its investors. Two of those investors will be USHPA and the Foundation for Free Flight. Other investors will include some of the biggest flight schools, and the PASA (Professional Air Sports Association). Even though USHPA and the Foundation for Free Flight are investing every nickel they have, it still doesn't add to $2M, so more needs to be done.

The easiest way to help out is to donate to USHPA, and they will invest that money in the RRG. USHPA has said that if you wish, they will return donations if they fail to raise enough money to establish the RRG. Contrary to what Bob Kuczewski has said, I don't believe that SHGA can offer any greater protection than that, so there's every reason to donate directly to USHPA. For those who have an aversion to USHPA, I presume one could also donate to the Foundation for Free Flight (or to PASA, though I know very little about that organization) and explain that the donation is to support the RRG. Donations are tax deductible. In a sense, this means that when you donate, the government does too!

The rare individual may even choose to be an investor. This would give some direct control over the RRG, but it's a high-risk investment, and so qualifying to be an investor isn't easy. It's high-risk, meaning that one could lose everything invested at any time without warning. We also know that the world's experts (i.e. Lloyds) have concluded that it's a bad investment. To protect people from unknowingly making a bad investment, government regulations require the RRG owners to be "accredited investors". An individual is defined to be an accredited investor if he has over $1M in personal assets in addition to his house, or has an annual income over $200K; and there are similar sorts of requirements for corporations and trusts. If you're still reading, contact Martin Palmaz in the USHPA office, or me, for more information.

--

Please note that this post doesn't include the word "Torrey" in it anywhere. I would be grateful if others would be willing to keep this thread that way.
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Bob Kuczewski



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PostPosted: Tue Dec 22, 2015 3:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

So you're saying that people can "donate" - which means they completely lose all the money they give and they have no control over how it's managed, but they can't "invest" - which means that they might be able to share in both profit and control?

And this is supposed to be a good thing for Sylmar pilots to do?

RRG "scheme" seems like a better description all the time.
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Bob Kuczewski



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PostPosted: Tue Dec 22, 2015 3:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

I'm sorry to post twice, but I'm flabbergasted by the audacity of this proposal.

USHPA is effectively setting up a scheme where individual pilots contribute to a business venture owned and controlled by USHPA and the large schools. And they're setting it up in such a way that only the richest commercial entities can benefit as investors? And the average "Joe Pilot" just gets to "donate"?

Is that what you're telling us Ken?
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Bob Kuczewski



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PostPosted: Tue Dec 22, 2015 4:30 pm    Post subject: Cooperatives and other undiscussed options Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

I just called one of my lawyers (a year ago I had no lawyers, today I've got about half a dozen on speed dial), and he said he wasn't an expert on RRGs (yet), but in his own practice he participates in an insurance cooperative. The cooperative is owned by the members themselves and he has a vote on how it's run.

Why aren't we hearing those options from USHPA? Possibly because that would give power to the pilots and take it from USHPA and their cronies?

Again, please don't throw any money at this problem until all these options have been explored. If you want to say you've given something, then give it to Sylmar to hold until all options have been discussed. USHPA's only giving you the choice they want you to have.
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Steve90266



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PostPosted: Thu Dec 24, 2015 11:51 am    Post subject: insurance Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

As for me, I'm with Ken. I've donated $200 and will probably do more before March 1, 2016.
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mqgicpotato



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PostPosted: Thu Dec 24, 2015 11:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Ken, thanks for posting this. We really need to keep sites insured not just for satisfying landowners, but also cities. Best example is dockweiler beach, now that insurance is gone, the city will take away our special use permit for the site. On top of this, USHPA has great political leverage and gathers all of us with similar interests to keep our sport active and legitimate. I know USHPA has its flaws, but this can be worked out once we save our butts from losing our places to fly. As we all know, and most of the times don't like, politics and insurance seem to go hand in hand.
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Bob Kuczewski



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PostPosted: Thu Dec 24, 2015 11:57 pm    Post subject: Rational Discussions? Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

I was down at the courthouse today, and I heard through the grapevine that there may be two more lawsuits in the pipeline through your friends at Torrey. One was from a tandem incident in April and the other was just a few weeks ago.

I don't know the details on them, and they may turn out to be rumors, but can anyone tell me what USHPA has done to stop the bleeding of insurance money at Torrey?

Now that you're all sending your own money to cover the screw ups at Torrey, do you think USHPA has done a good job of overseeing their operation? Do you think your money will give USHPA any incentive to fix what they haven't fixed in all these years? Have you ever heard the term "enabler"?

Again, I am not against pilots raising a fund to put towards insurance - even through USHPA. But not one person has given any reason why that money shouldn't first be vested in your local club to be given to USHPA ONLY after they've proven to your club's satisfaction that they're not going to squander it by ignoring the problems that have caused the lawsuits.

That's not an unreasonable question, and the fact that it's being dodged should be raising red flags.
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Don



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PostPosted: Fri Dec 25, 2015 5:48 pm    Post subject: "The Word" Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Well Ken, you request to keep "The Word" out of this thread lasted exactly 44 hours and 57 minutes.
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Bob Kuczewski



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PostPosted: Sat Dec 26, 2015 9:53 am    Post subject: Re: "The Word" Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Don wrote:
Well Ken, you request to keep "The Word" out of this thread lasted exactly 44 hours and 57 minutes.

Discussing the insurance problem without the word "Torrey" is like discussing World War II without the word "Germany".

Pilots are being asked to "donate" to a fund that will be "owned" and controlled by a few large entities. I haven't seen Mark Forbes give us a breakdown of what percentage ownership the Torrey concessionaire will have over the insurance at Sylmar. Maybe someone should ask that question. Maybe someone should also ask what percentage of the claims have come from these entities.

The mad rush to "save hang gliding" is creating some strange bedfellows. Sylmar should be asking some tough questions before jumping into the sack with the Torrey crowd.
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mario



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PostPosted: Sat Dec 26, 2015 10:06 am    Post subject: Re: The insurance problem Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Ken Andrews wrote:
Mark Forbes has posted lots of excellent information about insurance and the RRG on the USHPA website. If you haven't read it, I'll encourage you to visit the "Information Center and FAQ" at https://www.ushpa.aero/freeflightforever.asp. It's also well worth logging in to the Members area and clicking on the Insurance tab.

Here, I've attempted to summarize some of that information, and hopefully this provides answers to some of the questions that have been raised on this forum.

To take the story from the beginning, we all know that there are real risks in hang gliding, and so the responsible pilot, and instructor, and flight school, and landowner, should have insurance. As a service to the sport, USHPA has arranged for such insurance policies. We get liability insurance by being USHPA pilot members, as do instructors by being Rogallo members; flying sites get insurance by being USHPA chapters, and landowners do by being listed as an additional site by a chapter.

I've gradually learned that all hang gliding insurance, whatever retail insurance agency has sold it, has ultimately been backed by Lloyds of London, which is the source of most of the specialist insurance in the world. Unfortunately, there have been enough hang gliding and paragliding lawsuits in the last couple years that Lloyds has decided to stop insuring these sports, no matter what, at any price.

That means it will be impossible to buy hang gliding insurance after March 1. Individual pilots might accept the risk and fly without liability insurance, but most instructors and and flying sites can't do that. For these to survive, our only option is to start our own insurance company, known as a Risk Retention Group, or RRG. To do so, we need to find enough money to get it started, and that's estimated to be $2 million. After that, if we fly safely and there aren't many lawsuits, then the RRG should make a profit. That profit will be used first to stabilize the RRG's accounts, and then to pay back its debts, and eventually to lower membership dues again. If we don't fly safely and those lawsuits do happen, then the RRG goes bankrupt, and we're done.

An RRG is an independent company, owned by its investors. Two of those investors will be USHPA and the Foundation for Free Flight. Other investors will include some of the biggest flight schools, and the PASA (Professional Air Sports Association). Even though USHPA and the Foundation for Free Flight are investing every nickel they have, it still doesn't add to $2M, so more needs to be done.

The easiest way to help out is to donate to USHPA, and they will invest that money in the RRG. USHPA has said that if you wish, they will return donations if they fail to raise enough money to establish the RRG. Contrary to what Bob Kuczewski has said, I don't believe that SHGA can offer any greater protection than that, so there's every reason to donate directly to USHPA. For those who have an aversion to USHPA, I presume one could also donate to the Foundation for Free Flight (or to PASA, though I know very little about that organization) and explain that the donation is to support the RRG. Donations are tax deductible. In a sense, this means that when you donate, the government does too!

The rare individual may even choose to be an investor. This would give some direct control over the RRG, but it's a high-risk investment, and so qualifying to be an investor isn't easy. It's high-risk, meaning that one could lose everything invested at any time without warning. We also know that the world's experts (i.e. Lloyds) have concluded that it's a bad investment. To protect people from unknowingly making a bad investment, government regulations require the RRG owners to be "accredited investors". An individual is defined to be an accredited investor if he has over $1M in personal assets in addition to his house, or has an annual income over $200K; and there are similar sorts of requirements for corporations and trusts. If you're still reading, contact Martin Palmaz in the USHPA office, or me, for more information.

--

Please note that this post doesn't include the word "Torrey" in it anywhere. I would be grateful if others would be willing to keep this thread that way.
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Bob Kuczewski



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PostPosted: Sat Dec 26, 2015 11:00 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Translation:

The shrewd people are investing.
The sheeple are donating.

What's the difference between investing and donating? It's the difference between the Green Bay Packers and the Los Angeles Rams.
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NME



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PostPosted: Sat Dec 26, 2015 11:31 am    Post subject: Re: "The Word" Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Bob Kuczewski wrote:
....I haven't seen Mark Forbes give us a breakdown of what percentage ownership the Torrey concessionaire will have over the insurance at Sylmar. Maybe someone should ask that question. Maybe someone should also ask what percentage of the claims have come from these entities....
Bob,
The following two accidents created huge losses to our insurers and played a significant if not decisive role in our loss of insurance. You have a lot of energy and you write very well. If you really want to help the sport of hang gliding then put your energy and abilities into spreading the word about third-party safety. Both accidents were easily avoidable with just a modicum of common sense and care yet the pilots were negligent. The reality is that third-party safety is paramount. Better to have it both ways but if we want to retain our launch and landing privileges then everything we do must revolve around avoiding injury to other people above all and to their property secondarily.
Cheers, JD


Link


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Bob Kuczewski



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PostPosted: Sat Dec 26, 2015 1:23 pm    Post subject: Re: "The Word" Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Tangent Man wrote:
Bob ... You have a lot of energy and you write very well.


It's a safe bet that's why USHPA expelled me.

Tangent Man wrote:
If you really want to help the sport of hang gliding then put your energy and abilities into spreading the word about third-party safety.


In early 2010 I reported an out-of-control paragliding student crashing into parked hang gliders at Torrey. I reported it to USHPA. I also reported that the USHPA instructor TOLD the student NOT to tell me (a current USHPA Regional Director) who his instructor was. This was witnessed and documented on hanggliding.org. If my report to USHPA had been handled properly, and if USHPA had implemented the oversight that I'd been requesting for years, the Hamby accident in the summer of 2011 might have been averted.

So don't tell me where to put my energies. I've walked the walk on that score.

My testimony in the Hamby case was powerful because it was documented truth. That one story right there was enough to show a pattern of intentional gross negligence and attempted cover-up by the Torrey concessionaire and USHPA.

What was USHPA's response to the large (they won't tell us how large) settlement in the Hamby case? Was it to finally admit that they needed better oversight at Torrey? Or was it to expel the most prominent person calling for the oversight needed to stop these accidents?

With regard to the Chelan and Jean Lake cases, I don't know the amount of any settlement at Chelan, but I don't believe the Jean Lake case has been settled yet.

Finally, the Chelan video states: "34% of USHPA's General Liability Claims Payouts were for Glider Hits Spectator". What was the other 66%? How much of that was the Torrey settlement this spring? Doesn't that particular settlement coincide with the loss of insurance more than any other event? And yet we're not allowed to use the "T" word in discussing or solving this problem? No, just give money in the misguided belief that the people who created the problem will solve it for you if you pay them enough.
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Bob Kuczewski



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PostPosted: Sat Dec 26, 2015 1:41 pm    Post subject: Documentation Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Here's the documentation of Jason's post from http://www.hanggliding.org/viewtopic.php?t=15666

Jason, Feb 08, 2010 wrote:
Witnessed an Incident yesterday- don't see the form on the USHPA website- and knowing Torrey---this will never be reported

Sunday Feb 7
While standing in the landing area talking to a friend, I hear him say “whats this guy doing”

I look towards the ridge to see a paraglider pilot flying directly downwind low over the the PG set up area. The pilot then intiates a right hand turn, impacting two stationary hanggliders, and crashing between several others.

After checking to see if everyone was ok and inspecting the gliders for damage(one of them had a bent washout tube) Bob, the local RD, asks the pilot who his instructor was and if he was on radio. Brad Geary immediately tells the pilot to “don’t even talk”

An immediate gag order was in place, no one knows who this pilot was, or who his instructor was. The pilot WAS on radio as evidenced by the radio strapped to his chest. And that he carried with him in his hand for close to 15 minutes afterward

A few possible outcomes
1- the pilot crashes into something hard and goes to the hospital
2- a hg pilot on landing approach is cut off by this “wrong way driver” crashes and goes to the hospital
3- the pilot crashes into the parking lot damaging someone’s car


That was a year and a half in advance of Shannon Hamby's very similar collision which the insurance company paid out this spring. The "Brad Geary" mentioned here is the same PG tandem pilot who happened to catch the video of Shannon Hamby's collision and then went on to lie about it - on video - and then participate in PG to PG collision stunts with Torrey concessionaire's son (Max Marien) ... while both carrying child passengers.

How much worse does it have to get Jonathan?

And yet who did USHPA expel as an outcome of this fiasco? How do you expect to get a handle on safety when you're shooting the messengers who are reporting the problems? The Lloyd's investors are smart enough to steer clear of backing this kind of irresponsible management, so USHPA is trying to pull the wool over your eyes.

USHPA could very quickly make a U-turn on the situation at Torrey and demonstrate that they're serious about fixing these problems. Why haven't they done the one thing that would prove they're serious?

Because they're not.
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Bob Kuczewski



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PostPosted: Sat Dec 26, 2015 2:01 pm    Post subject: One more factiod ... Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Here's another little factoid for the "lets throw money at USHPA" crowd...

I have it on pretty good authority that David Jebb tried to go behind Joe Greblo's back to take over control of Dockweiler beach many years ago.

Do we want the Jebb's or "Air California Adventure" to be controlling owners in the RRG that insures all of our pilots and all of our sites throughout the United States?

Why isn't USHPA providing a clear list of who will own and control the pilot of money they're asking you to give them?
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Ken Andrews
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PostPosted: Sun Dec 27, 2015 9:47 am    Post subject: The insurance problem Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Despite the evidence, I continue to hope that Bob can look beyond his Torrey Pines perspective, and consider the importance of the insurance problem at the national level. Bob, I would like to discuss Torrey Pines situation with you sometime soon, but this is not the place for it.

Bob asks lots of rhetorical questions, and I’ll answer some of them.

Bob said:
Quote:
So you're saying that people can "donate" - which means they completely lose all the money they give and they have no control over how it's managed, but they can't "invest" - which means that they might be able to share in both profit and control?


Yep, that’s just about right. Pilots who donate are giving their money away, simply to save the sports of hang gliding and paragliding. Their only control is in how they cast their votes for regional directors, and their donations are tax deductible. It’s simple, straightforward, and generous of them.

Conversely, the pilots and large flight schools who meet the federal requirements for “accredited investors” may invest, probably between $10K and $100K. They will share in the profit and control, but let’s understand what that means. As I understand it, their investments are better described as loans, the potential profit is limited to 10% interest per year over three to seven years, and the potential loss is their entire loan amount. Their potential control is proportional to the investment, so at the upper $100K limit, one would control 5% of the vote. In short, control is small, profit is small, and risk is large. If a commercial flight school wants to help out in that way, I have no problem with it.

Bob also said:
Quote:
I just called one of my lawyers ... but in his own practice he participates in an insurance cooperative. The cooperative is owned by the members themselves and he has a vote on how it's run.

Why aren't we hearing those options from USHPA?


I’m not aware of any other type of insurance cooperative that would work for hang gliding. If you could provide any concrete details about a better option than an RRG, please speak up; I’m interested.

And in another thread, Bob said:
Quote:
One question that hasn't been answered is whether it would be beneficial for Sylmar to be a part owner of the RRG along with the schools and other clubs.


SHGA is a 501(c)3 non-profit corporation, and as I read the federal requirements as listed in 17 CFR 230.501, I think we would have to $5 million in assets in order to invest. We don’t meet that requirement, so I believe we cannot be a part-owner in the RRG.

And also:
Quote:
Why isn't USHPA providing a clear list of who will own and control the pilot of money they're asking you to give them?


Because they don’t yet know. They have said that the owners will include USHPA, the Foundation for Free Flight, PASA, and some flight schools. I believe the list of flight schools is still very much in flux.
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Bob Kuczewski



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PostPosted: Sun Dec 27, 2015 3:09 pm    Post subject: Re: The insurance problem Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Hi Ken,

Thanks for your substantive reply.

Ken Andrews wrote:
Despite the evidence, I continue to hope that Bob can look beyond his Torrey Pines perspective, and consider the importance of the insurance problem at the national level.


Absolutely. We're talking about USHPA's national insurance program. NATIONAL. That includes Torrey Pines and Jean Lake and Chelan and every other place where either the insurance company or the new RRG can bleed the members money.

Fortunately, Sylmar - as far as I know - has not been bleeding our national money. Neither has Dockweiler. Yet here we are talking about why both Sylmar and Dockweiler are losing coverage.

So how did this happen? Isn't that a question worth asking before throwing money at a "solution"?

I don't know the details of Chelan, and I don't know the details of Jean Lake. But I DO - REALLY REALLY DO - know very intimately what happened at Torrey. And what happened at Torrey will forecast the future for all of our sites if we don't learn from that mistake.

And it was a mistake. There's no doubt about it. USHPA looked the other way on numerous complaints of misconduct at that site. USHPA let them have free reign and let them do whatever they wanted. USHPA has held a seat on the Torrey Pines Soaring Council for decades (one of 7 equal members), but USHPA just sat back and rubber stamped whatever the concessionaire wanted. Eventually someone got hurt and sued. Is that any surprise?

Let me stop right there, Ken, and simply ask if you can agree whether what I've said so far is true or false. If we can't agree on this starting point, then it's best to find out right now. Also, while I've addressed this question to Ken, I welcome anyone else who wants to respond to this basic starting point - that USHPA has ignored the reported problems at Torrey, and those unaddressed problems have contributed to the recent loss of insurance. If you're not sure or need more information, that's a good response. Please ask any specific questions and I'll do my best to answer them.

Thanks.
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Bob Kuczewski



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PostPosted: Sun Dec 27, 2015 3:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

P.S.

I just went to USHPA's web site to confirm my recollection that they're also a 501(c)(3) organization. So I'm not sure why they can own part of the RRG and Sylmar can't:

Quote:
The USHPA is private, voluntary membership, 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, incorporated as a California corporation but doing business in Colorado.


While there, I noticed that you (Ken) have been welcomed as the new Region 3 Director. Let me say that if I could have voted, I'd have voted for you. However, I also endorsed both Dan and Alan, and they've both been corrupted by USHPA's insiders. Time will tell.

Since I'm not a USHPA member, I have no "right" to ask anything of you, but I would appreciate a conversation about my expulsion if you would volunteer your time. Please call me any time.

Thanks.
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dhmartens



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PostPosted: Sun Dec 27, 2015 7:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Congratulations Ken on your victory.

After USHPA raises $2 million they will apply in Vermont for the RRG.
here are the laws there.
http://www.dfr.vermont.gov/captives/captive-laws

Actuarial Scientists will have the final say on rates charged:
http://www.bls.gov/ooh/math/actuaries.htm#tab-2
Actuaries typically do the following:

Compile statistical data and other information for further analysis
Estimate the probability and likely economic cost of an event such as death, sickness, an accident, or a natural disaster
Design, test, and administer insurance policies, investments, pension plans, and other business strategies to minimize risk and maximize profitability
Produce charts, tables, and reports that explain calculations and proposals
Explain their findings and proposals to company executives, government officials, shareholders, and clients
... They calculate the expected number of claims resulting from automobile accidents, which varies with the insured person’s age, sex, driving history, type of car, and other factors.

Then USHPA will apply to California to get permission for the RRG
http://www.insurance.ca.gov/0250-insurers/0300-insurers/0100-applications/corp-apps-and-info/upload/RiskRetentionGroupAnnualRenewalStatement2014.pdf


It will be interesting to see if Stalag Dockweiler and Tora Tora Tora Pines flight schools are charged the same rates after Vermont analyzes the statistics.

No Claims history





several claims of battleship damage battleship row.



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Jim



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PostPosted: Sun Dec 27, 2015 7:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Sorry, Ken, BK only gives the appearance of being rational. He sounds coherent but he is self-deluded. He refuses to help unless he is given omnipotence to create the reality he desires. No one is correct, no one sees the "big picture", except BK. There is a pathology at work when one moves with such self-centered, single-minded motivation, even to the point of self-destruction.

I will say, his tirades moved me to seek answers to questions I had, all answered and leading to the conclusion that the RRG is a viable plan. I believe that the people at the USHPA have flying's best interests in mind. All flight, not just paragliders, not just hang gliders. They are both free-flight. You, Ken, after all, are now representing us.

Looking closely at Bob's "contributions" and knowing his position, one of exclusion from the community of flight, I can only conclude that he is trying his very best destroy the community. His ideas won't work. The USHPA may fail, but our chances are better with the USHPA compared to a group of HG-only, ghost pilots that BK claims exist. BK wants chapters to have control over who is insured. Why? So he can make his own club and, once again, insure himself to return to flight.

BK wants back in a bad way, so badly he can't stand to see free flight continue without him. Rather than getting together with the rest of us to help, he's attempting to divide us to bring us all down; self-destruction with collateral damage.
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