USHPA's Rate Increase

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Bob Kuczewski
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USHPA's Rate Increase

Post by Bob Kuczewski » Fri Oct 23, 2015 11:53 am

A few people just forwarded me copies of USHPA's latest mass emailing.

A number of comments come to mind, but let me start out with the most important thought. The sports of hang gliding and paragliding should be striving to work with their landowners to remove the burden of liability insurance. No other sports carry such an onerous requirement and it will be the death of our sports if we don't free ourselves of it ... soon.

Now with regard to the specifics in Mark Forbes' letter from USHPA...

Mark Forbes fails to identify the root cause behind the insurance problem - USHPA's own failure to properly control claims. It's so ironic that one of the largest insurance claims has been against the Torrey Pines Paragliding school, and I had warned USHPA years in advance about those problems. USHPA did nothing and ended up expelling me - the one person whose heeded warnings would have averted that costly disaster.

If USHPA were a healthy organization, they would have recognized that my warnings were right on target, and they would have thanked me for having brought them well in advance of that disaster. But the people running USHPA are so ego-driven, that they can't bring themselves to admit they were wrong. Instead, they shot the messenger this past spring with a kangaroo court expulsion hearing.

USHPA has proven that the sport of hang gliding cannot rely on UHSPA's leadership for our future ability to fly. I strongly urge the Sylmar club and all clubs to work to free yourselves from the insurance requirements that bind you to USHPA's wagon. It's time to start working with your land owner to lift the USHPA insurance requirement. The $150 that USHPA takes from each Sylmar member would be much better invested in the SHGA than in USHPA. Your club has a much better record of managing your own incidents than USHPA has demonstrated.

Finally, it's not likely that you'll be able to free your club of insurance requirements immediately, but now is the time to start those discussions so you won't be instantly grounded by USHPA's next mass emailing: "Sorry, our plan to self insure has fallen through. Please cease all flight operations immediately."
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No Insurance Needed to Protect Landowner

Post by Bob Kuczewski » Mon Oct 26, 2015 2:06 am

FYI, Here's the law:

======= The Law known as the "California Recreational Use Statute" =======

CIVIL CODE
DIVISION 2: Property
PART 2: Real or Immovable Property
TITLE 3: Rights and Obligations of Owners
CHAPTER 2: Obligations of Owners

§846. Duty of care or warning to persons entering property for recreation; Effect of permission to enter

An owner of any estate or any other interest in real property, whether possessory or nonpossessory, owes no duty of care to keep the premises safe for entry or use by others for any recreational purpose or to give any warning of hazardous conditions, uses of, structures, or activities on such premises to persons entering for such purpose, except as provided in this section.

A "recreational purpose," as used in this section, includes such activities as fishing, hunting, camping, water sports, hiking, spelunking, sport parachuting, riding, including animal riding, snowmobiling, and all other types of vehicular riding, rock collecting, sightseeing, picnicking, nature study, nature contacting, recreational gardening, gleaning, hang gliding, winter sports, and viewing or enjoying historical, archaeological, scenic, natural, or scientific sites.

An owner of any estate or any other interest in real property, whether possessory or nonpossessory, who gives permission to another for entry or use for the above purpose upon the premises does not thereby (a) extend any assurance that the premises are safe for such purpose, or (b) constitute the person to whom permission has been granted the legal status of an invitee or licensee to whom a duty of care is owed, or (c) assume responsibility for or incur liability for any injury to person or property caused by any act of such person to whom permission has been granted except as provided in this section.

This section does not limit the liability which otherwise exists (a) for willful or malicious failure to guard or warn against a dangerous condition, use, structure or activity; or (b) for injury suffered in any case where permission to enter for the above purpose was granted for a consideration other than the consideration, if any, paid to said landowner by the state, or where consideration has been received from others for the same purpose; or (c) to any persons who are expressly invited rather than merely permitted to come upon the premises by the landowner.

Nothing in this section creates a duty of care or ground of liability for injury to person or property.
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Post by Bob Kuczewski » Tue Oct 27, 2015 7:04 pm

Earlier this morning, Joe Faust (USHGA #5) posted the following to the US Hawks:
At the beginning of the HG renaissance we did not have what is in place now with regard to the states of the USA. Now all states have immunity for landowners (leasing managers, etc) from liability for recreationers who are not charged and who are not invited, but are simply allowed to use land for recreation or scientific purposes.
Joe rightly points out that our addiction to insurance has its roots in a time before the widespread passing of legislation to protect land owners from lawsuits by people using their land for recreational purposes.

Rick Masters just replied:
Joe, do you realize how revolutionary your words are?
The foundational structure of U.S. recreational hang gliding is built around a perceived rational fear by landowners of lawsuits arising from hang gliding activity on their property. If you point out that this fear is actually irrational, the entire framework of formal agreements between clubs and landowners AND the lucrative dues structure between the USHPA, its members, its lawyer(s) and insurance entities could collapse overnight.
USHPA has no incentive to free us from insurance requirements. Insurance (or an RRG that they control) gives USHPA power over the entire sport of free flight. They will not send their Lawyers or Regional Directors to explain the California Recreational Use Statute to your land owner because that's not in their interests. That's where their interests ... differ from yours.
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Post by Jim » Wed Oct 28, 2015 8:41 am

You have liability coverage for your car and home, don't you? Maybe even umbrella insurance, in case those aren't enough. And if you fly a plane, you have liability insurance for that, too.

The third party liability insurance provided by the USHPA does not cover a landowner for damages to you, the pilot. It covers your liability for bodily injury or property damage you cause by crashing on their property. You are providing a landowner, who is allowing the use of the land for recreational purposes, with the security of knowing that, if you go through his roof, slice power lines or smack into an invited visitor on his property, you can make them whole again and the landowner is not responsible for injury you caused to others. (Although, I'd bet that the landowner would be named in a suit anyway. The threat of litigation that the landowner can't afford, often forces a settlement, even if not responsible.)

You don't have to be flying from or to the landowner's property, either. You are covered in case you cause damage to any third party. This is the case in Sylmar and why the club requires USHPA membership.We're surrounded by third parties. Liability coverage helps insure the club's survival, in case of a mishap. We would probably still fly here if USHPA fails to meet its goal. But if a pilot has anything of value, it would be a good idea to look into personal liability insurance for hang gliding. I'd guess it would be much more expensive than $150/yr.

This from the USHPA site:

"While the policy does not provide first-party coverage, or more specifically, coverage for the participating pilot who may cause bodily injury to themselves or who may cause property damage to their gliders as a result of negligence related to their flying, the policy does cover claims resulting from damages that are caused to third parties resulting in bodily injury or property damage to the third party that was caused by the negligence of the participating pilot."

It seems to me that you are not correctly reading the purpose of the USHPA liability coverage nor the law you site.

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Post by Bob Kuczewski » Wed Oct 28, 2015 10:16 am

Thanks for the good comments Jim.

Most insurance is optional and is based on our own assessments of risk ... as it should be.

Homeowners insurance is not required by law, but may be required by someone who loans you money for your home (mortgage holder).

In the United States, we have a general principle that we are presumed innocent until proven guilty. Yet there has been an increasing trend to require "financial responsibility" for things that we MIGHT do (auto insurance is the most notable).

This is an unsustainable model. It would require liability insurance to own a gun, or a knife, or a hammer. It would require liability insurance to be able to speak (to cover you in case you slander someone). It would require liability insurance to connect to the internet (in case you libel someone or hack into their computer or allow your computer to be hacked into and used as a tool to hack into someone else's computer).

In short, there are an infinite number of ways that we can intentionally or unintentionally do damage to other people and their property. It is clearly unsustainable to require us to carry insurance for every "bad" thing that we might do by intention or accident.

There is a push by insurance companies to require insurance for more of our actions and there is a push back by people who value freedom.

There is no requirement to carry insurance to cover your own injury in a hang gldier. There is also no requirement to carry insurance to cover all the bad things that you might do with your hang glider ... or your pocket knife. That's as it should be.

The real requirement for insurance comes from our request to use a landowner's land. The law that was quoted insures the land owner that he won't be liable for accidents caused by you using his land. If you damage his land in the process, then he can sue you as he should be able to do.

In the case of Sylmar, what could a pilot possibly do to damage the landowner's property? Even the worst whack I've seen leaves only a small divot. So what can we do that would damage that landowner's land?
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Post by Jim » Wed Oct 28, 2015 11:12 am

The best insurance is, of course, never having an opportunity to use it.

As you, Bob, I despise the fear of 'what if'. But in the world we live in, with actuaries quantifying fear and a greedy legal system, it is impossible to ignore. If you have any assets that can be taken as a result of responsibility for damages due to an activity and you cannot afford to bear the costs, you need liability insurance for that activity. Or lose your assets. USHPA insurance offers a respite from the fear.

The only reason that insurance is unobtainable for an activity is because it is unavailable, thanks to the actuaries that determine the probability of an occurrence and the potential financial payout for the company. That is the crux of the present situation. If you have too many accidents and/or they are potentially very expensive, you become less insurable. Auto and airline insurers get around the risk by sharing it and extracting huge premiums. HG/PG is too small and too poor to warrant that.

BTW, at Sylmar, the club is the landowner of the LZ. And I don't think the club will sue a pilot for a divot or even crashing into a storage container.

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Post by Bob Kuczewski » Thu Oct 29, 2015 10:17 am

Thanks again for some good comments Jim,

If Sylmar owns their own land, then they should be able to allow non-USHPA members to land there if they would like to do so.

This is particularly interesting because it means the club could very reasonably ask for an additional $150 per year from non-USHPA members to cover any additional exposure by pilots not carrying USHPA's insurance.

Since SHGA owns the land, and since it could be argued that SHGA membership fees invalidate the California Recreation protections, the club should have a strong waiver for any such activities.

I know from my recent involvement in the Torrey case that waivers will protect the club under cases where the club is negligent but not under "gross negligence". Gross negligence was pretty easy to prove in the Torrey case, but I believe it would be very difficult in any case against the SHGA for a number of reasons.

My main point of this topic is that world of hang gliding insurance is changing dramatically, and the SHGA should be considering many alternatives that might give you more insulation from the bad decisions made by USHPA and made at other sites like Torrey.

One of the ideas that I like is a Risk Retention Group that's independent of UHSPA's political control. It would effectively be an insurance pool that could be joined by any person or club based on claims history and not based on political friendships or political retaliation. We are at a critical time where we might be able to make that happen.

Thanks again for your comments.
Jim wrote:The best insurance is, of course, never having an opportunity to use it.

As you, Bob, I despise the fear of 'what if'. But in the world we live in, with actuaries quantifying fear and a greedy legal system, it is impossible to ignore. If you have any assets that can be taken as a result of responsibility for damages due to an activity and you cannot afford to bear the costs, you need liability insurance for that activity. Or lose your assets. USHPA insurance offers a respite from the fear.

The only reason that insurance is unobtainable for an activity is because it is unavailable, thanks to the actuaries that determine the probability of an occurrence and the potential financial payout for the company. That is the crux of the present situation. If you have too many accidents and/or they are potentially very expensive, you become less insurable. Auto and airline insurers get around the risk by sharing it and extracting huge premiums. HG/PG is too small and too poor to warrant that.

BTW, at Sylmar, the club is the landowner of the LZ. And I don't think the club will sue a pilot for a divot or even crashing into a storage container.
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Post by JD » Thu Oct 29, 2015 10:52 am

Bob Kuczewski wrote:Thanks again for some good comments Jim,

If Sylmar owns their own land, then they should be able to allow non-USHPA members to land there if they would like to do so....
Hi Bob,
In order not to void our site insurance, the USHPA insurance contract and/or SOPs require that any non-USHPA member pilot carry the same amount of liability coverage as a member pilot and also sign an equivalent liability waiver. The waiver is the easy part but proving $1mil in cash or insurance is another matter.
Cheers,
Jonathan

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Post by Bob Kuczewski » Thu Oct 29, 2015 11:17 am

Hello Jonathan,

I'm not sure that's true. I've spoken with Rich Hass at great length about this and I don't think the acceptance of USHPA's site insurance bars a land owner from any other uses of their property - including hang gliding and paragliding.

The example I used in discussions with Rich was a land owner who was also a non-USHPA hang gliding pilot. He might accept USHPA site insurance to allow a local club to use his land, but his acceptance of site insurance would not bar him from flying there himself as a non-USHPA member. He would similarly be able to allow other non-USHPA members to use his land. In short, I don't think the USHPA site insurance can be used as an encumbrance to restrict the owner's right to use the property as they might without USHPA insurance.

But more importantly, I'd like pilots to start thinking about the RRG that USHPA is proposing. I think an RRG - if done right - could open up a new future of competition for our sports. But we must not support any RRG that isn't open to all safe pilots and clubs - regardless of their affiliation with USHPA. In other words, the Sylmar club should be able to participate in that insurance pool without needing to be a USHPA chapter. Similarly, individual pilots should be able to participate in that insurance pool without being a member of USHPA.

If the RRG insurance pool is truly independent, then that fulfills the insurance requirement that you've mentioned and it opens the insurance pool up to the many non-USHPA pilots out there. That creates an even bigger insurance pool than if USHPA tries to limit it to USHPA members only.

For that reason, I'm asking all pilots to reject any USHPA-proposed RRG that requires USHPA association. USHPA will reject that because they want to keep us boxed into their monopoly. It's time to break out of that box, so clubs like yours can make your own decisions about who can fly at your sites.
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Post by JD » Thu Oct 29, 2015 5:25 pm

Bob Kuczewski wrote:Hello Jonathan,

I'm not sure that's true. I've spoken with Rich Hass at great length about this and I don't think the acceptance of USHPA's site insurance bars a land owner from any other uses of their property - including hang gliding and paragliding.

The example I used in discussions with Rich was a land owner who was also a non-USHPA hang gliding pilot. He might accept USHPA site insurance to allow a local club to use his land, but his acceptance of site insurance would not bar him from flying there himself as a non-USHPA member. He would similarly be able to allow other non-USHPA members to use his land. In short, I don't think the USHPA site insurance can be used as an encumbrance to restrict the owner's right to use the property as they might without USHPA insurance.

But more importantly, I'd like pilots to start thinking about the RRG that USHPA is proposing. I think an RRG - if done right - could open up a new future of competition for our sports. But we must not support any RRG that isn't open to all safe pilots and clubs - regardless of their affiliation with USHPA. In other words, the Sylmar club should be able to participate in that insurance pool without needing to be a USHPA chapter. Similarly, individual pilots should be able to participate in that insurance pool without being a member of USHPA.

If the RRG insurance pool is truly independent, then that fulfills the insurance requirement that you've mentioned and it opens the insurance pool up to the many non-USHPA pilots out there. That creates an even bigger insurance pool than if USHPA tries to limit it to USHPA members only.

For that reason, I'm asking all pilots to reject any USHPA-proposed RRG that requires USHPA association. USHPA will reject that because they want to keep us boxed into their monopoly. It's time to break out of that box, so clubs like yours can make your own decisions about who can fly at your sites.
Bob,

The clearly elucidated USHPA site insurance program that any current USHPA member has access to is right here: https://ushpa.aero/member_insurance.asp

It backs what I said earlier. I'd love to see you make amends with USHPA so you can come out and enjoy Sylmar with the rest of us. Either that or provide your own million-dollar liability coverage, sign an identical waiver and get SHGA board approval so you can enjoy the wonderful skies over L.A.

See ya in the air!

JD

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The Big Question ...

Post by Bob Kuczewski » Fri Oct 30, 2015 9:51 am

Hi Jonathan,

There's a third approach ...

The big question we're facing right now is: How do we structure the self insurance of our sports? USHPA would like everyone to contribute to a pool of money that they will control through their continued monopoly. I am advocating for an independent pool of money that will support competition in the HG and PG marketplace. I would like to see an independent insurance pool that makes its decisions based on actual safety records of pilots and not based on political vendettas.

If you agree that it's time separate insurance from politics, then please join me in spreading the word that we can make the RRG independent of USHPA's control. Don't accept anything else. This is an important time to get this right.
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Sylmar as an Owner

Post by Bob Kuczewski » Fri Oct 30, 2015 10:52 am

Someone just sent me an email quoting Mark Forbes from the Oz Report:
"The RRG is owned by its insured policy holders. That's the law. If some entity wants to join the RRG as an owner and purchase an insurance policy through it, that entity is welcome to do so subject to the RRG's underwriting requirements. USHPA, the Foundation, PASA and commercial schools will all be initial owners/investors in the RRG, and will hold insurance policies through it. If some other air sports entity wants to participate, it's possible. They'll need to come up with the initial investment to become an owner, and they'll need to pay an annual insurance premium based on their risk. The RRG does not issue individual insurance policies to pilots. It will issue policies to commercial schools through PASA, the Professional Air Sports Association, which will be responsible for certifying those schools and reviewing their operations for compliance with underwriting requirements."
As I read that, USHPA may not be able to close the door to clubs like the Sylmar ... or the Torrey Hawks. If the SHGA wanted to participate in the RRG through an ownership role, then your members could pay their USHPA fees to the SHGA and those fees would go toward an ownership stake in the RRG. It's not absolutely clear from Mark's statement, but I think that's a possibility worth exploring.
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Re: The Big Question ...

Post by JD » Fri Oct 30, 2015 11:04 am

Bob Kuczewski wrote:Hi Jonathan,

There's a third approach ...

The big question we're facing right now is: How do we structure the self insurance of our sports? USHPA would like everyone to contribute to a pool of money that they will control through their continued monopoly. I am advocating for an independent pool of money that will support competition in the HG and PG marketplace. I would like to see an independent insurance pool that makes its decisions based on actual safety records of pilots and not based on political vendettas.

If you agree that it's time separate insurance from politics, then please join me in spreading the word that we can make the RRG independent of USHPA's control. Don't accept anything else. This is an important time to get this right.
Bob,
If there were 100,000 active free-flight pilots in the U.S. I could see your point. But the number is only a tenth of this. Does USHPA really have a monopoly or is it merely a group that offers strength in numbers? Is the marketplace for free-flight insurance really that substantial that there's even room for competition?
Cheers,
JD

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By the Numbers

Post by Bob Kuczewski » Fri Oct 30, 2015 12:39 pm

USHPA has had about 10,000 members for at least the last 10 years ... maybe much longer. Yet there are many more HG/PG pilots than that in the US. Many have dropped out of USHPA out of USHPA for a variety of reasons ... often with great disgust.

So the real pool of hang gliding (and paragliding) pilots is actually much larger than the 10,000 that are currently in USHPA.

If we make the RRG a truly objective insurance pool which provides insurance based on merit (rather than politics), then many of those current non-USHPA members would join a non-USHPA group sharing the same insurance pool as the USHPA members.

That's a bigger pie.

According to the Mark Forbes post that I've quoted, that may be possible. That would mean that a local club (like Sylmar) could buy the SAME insurance for their members that they would get through USHPA. The same would be true for Crestline and other clubs throughout the United States.

Now you've got local control without having to bow to USHPA's whims. If the insurance organization (RRG) is fair and objective, your member's fees will reflect your club's risks ... not the risks at Torrey or Jean Lake or anywhere else.

We could have the "strength in numbers" that you mentioned without the distant monopoly control of USHPA.

As I said, if we do this right, this could really bring about a positive future for our sports. But if we do it wrong, we're just going to get more of the same.
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HeartnSouloftheSHGA ?

Post by Bob Kuczewski » Mon Nov 02, 2015 12:21 am

Note:

There appears to be a member of this forum named "HeartnSouloftheSHGA" who is so desperate to kill these discussions that they've added an empty post to most of the topics in an effort to bury this one.

I don't know everyone in the Sylmar club, but I certainly don't think silencing sincere concerns is representative of the "Heart and Soul" of the SHGA.
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RRG Observations from Funston

Post by Bob Kuczewski » Sat Nov 14, 2015 6:46 pm

Dan Brown at Funston:
Dan Bronw wrote:A number of years ago I contacted the Dept. of Interior attorney who was handling legal matters for the GGNRA about the insurance requirement. The GGNRA is part of Interior.

The attorney agreed that the insurance requirement was redundant because of the Recreational Use Immunity Statute. The Statute provides immunity for landowners allowing recreational users on their property. It does not apply to commercial users. The GGNRA rationale for the insurance is that it provides an extra layer of protection.

The attorney did not disagree when I said that the insurance requirement is discriminatory because it applies only to hang gliding and not to the other actives at Funston like dog walking. Dog bites are more common than hang gliding injures.

In theory pilots should be able to fly at Funston without USHPA membership if they have their own insurance. However USHPA prohibits clubs from allowing non-USHPA pilots to fly at its insured sites. If an insured, non-USHPA pilot flew at a USHPA site, USHPA would pull its insurance.

USHPA is attempting to establish a Risk Retention Group that will provide insurance to pilots. Doctors have similar Groups. California law requires that the Groups be “independent�. It is unknown if USHPA would respect the independence of the Group and allow all hang glider pilots to join or would restrict membership to USHPA pilots. If all pilots are allowed to join, USHPA would lose its monopoly and pilots could fly at Funston and at other hang gliding sites without becoming members of USHPA. USHPA would be like the Sierra Club. You can hike in a national park without joining it.
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Re: No Insurance Needed to Protect Landowner

Post by Bob Kuczewski » Sat Nov 14, 2015 6:50 pm

FYI, I believe "GGNRA" stands for Golden Gate National Recreational Area, and they're the land owner at Funston. Also, the recreational use statute that Dan mentioned was posted earlier in this topic. Here it is again:

======= The Law known as the "California Recreational Use Statute" =======

CIVIL CODE
DIVISION 2: Property
PART 2: Real or Immovable Property
TITLE 3: Rights and Obligations of Owners
CHAPTER 2: Obligations of Owners

§846. Duty of care or warning to persons entering property for recreation; Effect of permission to enter

An owner of any estate or any other interest in real property, whether possessory or nonpossessory, owes no duty of care to keep the premises safe for entry or use by others for any recreational purpose or to give any warning of hazardous conditions, uses of, structures, or activities on such premises to persons entering for such purpose, except as provided in this section.

A "recreational purpose," as used in this section, includes such activities as fishing, hunting, camping, water sports, hiking, spelunking, sport parachuting, riding, including animal riding, snowmobiling, and all other types of vehicular riding, rock collecting, sightseeing, picnicking, nature study, nature contacting, recreational gardening, gleaning, hang gliding, winter sports, and viewing or enjoying historical, archaeological, scenic, natural, or scientific sites.

An owner of any estate or any other interest in real property, whether possessory or nonpossessory, who gives permission to another for entry or use for the above purpose upon the premises does not thereby (a) extend any assurance that the premises are safe for such purpose, or (b) constitute the person to whom permission has been granted the legal status of an invitee or licensee to whom a duty of care is owed, or (c) assume responsibility for or incur liability for any injury to person or property caused by any act of such person to whom permission has been granted except as provided in this section.

This section does not limit the liability which otherwise exists (a) for willful or malicious failure to guard or warn against a dangerous condition, use, structure or activity; or (b) for injury suffered in any case where permission to enter for the above purpose was granted for a consideration other than the consideration, if any, paid to said landowner by the state, or where consideration has been received from others for the same purpose; or (c) to any persons who are expressly invited rather than merely permitted to come upon the premises by the landowner.

Nothing in this section creates a duty of care or ground of liability for injury to person or property.
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Post by dhmartens » Sun Nov 15, 2015 10:40 am

Can the RRG not offer BobK insurance?

Texas:
http://www.statutes.legis.state.tx.us/d ... N.2201.htm

Sec. 2201.055. QUALIFICATIONS REGARDING MEMBERSHIP. (a) A risk retention group must be composed of members who are engaged in similar or related businesses or activities with respect to the liability to which those members are exposed by virtue of any related, similar, or common product, trade, business, operations, premises, or services.
(b) A risk retention group must have:
(1) as members, only persons who are provided insurance by the group; or
(2) as the sole owner, an organization that has:
(A) as members, only persons who comprise the membership of the group; and
(B) as owners, only persons who comprise the membership of the group and are provided insurance by the group.
(c) A risk retention group may not exclude a person from membership in the group solely to provide a competitive advantage for group members over that person.

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USHPA's Insurance Fiasco

Post by Bob Kuczewski » Fri Dec 11, 2015 1:44 am

Hello Friends at Sylmar,

These are extraordinary times in our sports. It's a time to look carefully at the facts and think clearly and calmly.

USHPA is desperately soliciting donations to maintain their monopoly over our sports. Do they deserve that monopoly? Are there other alternatives that USHPA is not revealing? If there were a way to continue to insure our sports without relying 100% on USHPA, do you think USHPA would tell you?

I think you already know the answers to those questions.

There is another way, and here's how it would work. Pilot's should ONLY donate money to their own LOCAL clubs with the understanding that those donations will ONLY go to USHPA's RRG if:

1. There is sufficient money to reach the needed amount
2. USHPA gives local clubs autonomy in insuring members

These are not unreasonable requests, and if USHPA refuses, then that's telling you that they have no intention of changing the policies that have led to this fiasco.

And speaking of this fiasco, it's important for members to understand how this came about. USHPA has been controlled by commercial interests for years now (maybe decades). Those commercial interests call the shots and USHPA has looked the other way whenever problems are reported against any of their "buddies". I know because I reported problems at Torrey Pines when I was Director, and nothing was done. It wasn't much more than a year later that those same unaddressed problems resulted in a serious injury and a subsequent insurance claim. I know because I was an expert witness in that case (as was Dennis Pagen and others). The evidence was clear that there had been gross negligence on the part of the Torrey operator, and the evidence was clear that I had reported it to USHPA long before the accident. The insurance company ended up settling that case just this past spring for an undisclosed amount of money. I'm sure it wasn't peanuts. But USHPA isn't telling you about that case, are they?

No, USHPA is trying to rally everyone to "save free flight".

Don't be fooled again.

There's nothing wrong with pooling the money of local clubs through USHPA to obtain group insurance, but the control of that insurance should rest with the local clubs and not with the failed leadership at USHPA. Look at my case as a clear example. If USHPA had heeded my warnings, it's very likely that an accident would have been averted and this insurance "emergency" would not have happened. But how did USHPA reward me for speaking out? With a national smear letter and an expulsion. Is it any surprise that USHPA has become uninsurable?

USHPA members have trusted USHPA with one thing - to keep us flying. USHPA has failed. In life ... as in flying ... there are penalties for mistakes. USHPA is asking pilots to step in and pick up the tab for their mistakes. Fine, when a business comes to its shareholders asking for more money, the shareholders have every right to ask for more stock and more control. That's what the local clubs should be doing. Don't give your money blindly to USHPA. Give it to your local club instead. If the numbers add up then your club can participate in the RRG on favorable terms. But if they don't, then at least you've still got control of your money locally. Once it goes to USHPA ... it's not coming back.

Please feel free to post or redistribute this message, and please contact me any time at 858-204-7499. These are extraordinary times, and we have an opportunity to really make a change for the better if we act calmly and wisely.

Sincerely,
Bob Kuczewski
858-204-7499 Call any time!!
Join a National Hang Gliding Organization: US Hawks at ushawks.org
View my rating at: USHGRS

Greg Kendall
Posts: 57
Joined: Sun Dec 24, 2006 9:42 am

Post by Greg Kendall » Sun Dec 20, 2015 7:11 pm

I’d rather fly than engage in discussion over the politics of flying, but given the lack of great flying conditions this time of year, I’ll make an exception.

I think Bob has a point. The root of this insurance crisis is safety. Clearly, our recent record is not good enough. All of us, including USHPA leadership, need to do better. I don’t think anyone can argue with that.

However, I don’t subscribe to the theory that USHPA leadership is a cabal out to sacrifice our flying privileges for the profitability of some schools. I know several USHPA directors, and we all know one who’s a current SHGA member, and they’re as concerned about the health of our sport(s) as we are. We elected them to represent us and we can influence what they do, especially if we apply some diplomacy.

I think that the RRG is our only way forward and I’d really like to see it succeed. I’m into it for $600 so far and I’ll contribute more if that’s what it takes. I recognize that not all pilots can afford to make big contributions and I’m willing to help fill in some gaps.

Meeting the RRG capitol goal is only half the battle though. The hard part will be improving safety. The benefits of that effort will go far beyond just making our insurance situation solvent.

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