Insurance

Generally, third-party liability insurance is a requirement for obtaining flight clearance, and also would be in the best interest of SFAP operators. From the example of insurance issues in Germany, it can be seen that the matter is not a trivial one. As per August 11, 2005, each model aircraft in Germany has to be insured independent of its weight. Private indemnity insurances cover the risks of model flights only in exceptional cases. Some older contracts merely include an insurance protection for model aircraft up to a maximum weight of 5 kg. This protection in most cases only applies for models without self-propulsion, and insurance policies should be checked carefully for details.

A summary of insurance offered for model builders and flyers by various organizations (Deutscher Aero Club DAeC, Verband Deutscher Modellflieger DMFV, Deutsche

Modellsport Organisation DMO) with identification of possible loopholes has been compiled painstakingly by Steenblock (2006). These insurance packages are included in the membership fee of the organizations (ca. 50-80 V/a) and customized to the specific activities of the members.

From the point of view of a worldwide active German SFAP user, membership in the DAeC appears the most sensible option, because it is the biggest organization for pilots of all kinds in Europe and the insurance is globally valid. Model aircraft are insured up to a total starting weight of 25 kg, and no co-payment is required except in case of double-channel occupancy. Supplementary agreements also enable insurance of models heavier than 25 kg. For blimps and balloons, it has to be considered that the flight weight is not calculated just from the summed weight of the components but rather from the addition of component weight and the weight of the covered volume within the balloon, in other words the gas (specific weight of air:

1.225 kg/m , helium: 0.17 kg/m , all assuming ICAO standard atmosphere). This complicated calculation may result in surprisingly large flight weights that exceed the 25 kg insurance limit, although all components together may weigh much less than 25 kg.

Another option is separate insurance policies that can be taken out by individuals or institutions with Allianz or in special cases also with the Gerling Insurance Group. In this case, a specific model aircraft or blimp may be insured with the obligatory specification of its serial identification number. However, the insurance rates are significantly higher and are in the experience of the authors only suitable for heavier and larger aircraft. Also, according to Steen-block (2006), these individual insurance packages show some loopholes in contrast to the organizational insurance offers, and consequently the authors recommend to check their conditions in detail before conclusion.

In other countries, individuals may seek insurance through hobby or professional organizations. In the United States, for example, the American Kitefliers Association provides limited liability insurance at officially sanctioned kite competitions and tournaments. Another option is a professional rider that may be added to an individual's homeowner insurance policy. When acting in professional capacity, for example, teaching a field-methods course in SFAP for a university, the individuals and activity may be covered by the institution. But the conditions and exclusions vary greatly with each type or source of insurance, so the SFAP operator needs to pay some attention to appropriate coverage.

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