Forums: Skydiving: General Skydiving Discussions:
Liability Insurance for Instructors

 


stephepearson

Oct 15, 2012, 7:31 PM
Post #1 of 14 (1951 views)
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Liability Insurance for Instructors Can't Post

I have a project due which I recently decided to change topics on for my insurance class. I'm a student at Temple University and study Risk Management & Insurance. I've gone skydiving twice this last summer and that sparked my interest in this topic.

I've read through a bunch of these threads on insurance and skydiving and what I've learned is that it is difficult and expensive to obtain liability insurance if you are a skydiving instructor. I want to write an article on the alternatives that instructors use when they cannot get reasonable insurance. Also, does anyone know what kind of liability insurance is required for drop zones? (I know that depends on the state, but just in general.)

Anyone have any information that may help me out to look further into this topic? Anything is appreciated.


AggieDave  (D License)

Oct 15, 2012, 7:42 PM
Post #2 of 14 (1931 views)
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Re: [stephepearson] Liability Insurance for Instructors [In reply to] Can't Post

Quote:
does anyone know what kind of liability insurance is required for drop zones

There isn't any.

That is why every single person signs a "release of liability contract" (aka a waiver) if they want to go skydiving.


wolfriverjoe  (A 50013)

Oct 15, 2012, 7:46 PM
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Re: [stephepearson] Liability Insurance for Instructors [In reply to] Can't Post

The only liabilty insurance DZs have is on their airplane (covering anything the plane hits in a crash) or "trip and fall" insurance for anyone on the property.
And not every DZ carries both (or either).

There is no liability insurance available to DZs for jumping or for airplane operations (passengers). None.


stephepearson

Oct 15, 2012, 7:50 PM
Post #4 of 14 (1917 views)
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Re: [AggieDave] Liability Insurance for Instructors [In reply to] Can't Post

I know everyone signs a waiver but many times waivers don't hold up. I've read that some instructors incorporate themselves as an LLC to separate their assets but they can still be held liable and even if they are sued and win they still have to pay for the legal fees. I guess most instructors just deal with the lawsuit risk they face? I also read that many people aren't interested in insurance because of a lawsuit that may just be in "the search for deep pockets." I'm just trying to gather as much information as possible.


AggieDave  (D License)

Oct 15, 2012, 7:54 PM
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Re: [stephepearson] Liability Insurance for Instructors [In reply to] Can't Post

Quote:
but many times waivers don't hold up

You might want to check your numbers on that one in reference to skydiving operations and get back to us.

If they didn't hold up, this sport would have folded 30 years ago.


stephepearson

Oct 15, 2012, 7:57 PM
Post #6 of 14 (1905 views)
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Re: [AggieDave] Liability Insurance for Instructors [In reply to] Can't Post

No need for attitude, I'm just gathering information and asking questions on things that I've researched. Thanks for the information that you've provided.


AggieDave  (D License)

Oct 15, 2012, 7:58 PM
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Re: [stephepearson] Liability Insurance for Instructors [In reply to] Can't Post

In reply to:
No need for attitude, I'm just gathering information and asking questions on things that I've researched. Thanks for the information that you've provided.

No attitude, just telling you that you are incorrect in your assumption in regards to the skydiving industry.


wolfriverjoe  (A 50013)

Oct 15, 2012, 7:58 PM
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Re: [stephepearson] Liability Insurance for Instructors [In reply to] Can't Post

It kind of depends. There's been more than one lawsuit that went nowhere because the instructor had no assets worth going after.
Some jumpers won't instruct because they have too much to lose in a lawsuit. Others find and pay for liability umbrella (usually attached to their homeowners) that will cover that kind of lawsuit.

Some just trust the waiver. Most of the time the injured party's attorney will read through the waiver and see enough that they won't sue. The clause where the jumper indemnifies the DZ and agrees to pay all legal costs, including judgements has been upheld in court, IIRC.

It isn't just the instructors. DAOs, pilots, riggers, ect. are all vulnerable.


FlyingRhenquest  (B 37920)

Oct 15, 2012, 8:04 PM
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Re: [stephepearson] Liability Insurance for Instructors [In reply to] Can't Post

Incorporating as an LLC might not actually buy you all that much. A nearby restaurant was sued in a labor dispute a while back (Keeping tips in a tip pool, which is legal, and the owner was allegedly skimming from the tip pool, which is not.)

A friend of mine found some documentation from the lawsuit online and one of the things the plaintiff's attorney attempted to do was claim that the owner's LLC had no other purpose than to serve as an alias for the owner. If successful, this maneuver would have allowed him to pursue the owner's assets (House, car, etc.)

So if you do get sued, you'd best invest heavily in making sure the waiver holds up. Your best line of defense is probably that as a skydiver instructor you don't actually have any money, and anyone suing you probably isn't interested in skydiving gear. Typically the drop zone owner would be a much juicier target.


stephepearson

Oct 15, 2012, 8:07 PM
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Re: [wolfriverjoe] Liability Insurance for Instructors [In reply to] Can't Post

Thank you, I work in the snowboard industry and I know many times waivers do not hold up and mountains/ski shops are still held liable regardless of a signed waiver.

I know that individual jumpers can purchase insurance for themselves, but I think that most people would assume that there would be liability insurance available for the instructors which is why I'm writing this article.


-SK-  (A License)

Oct 15, 2012, 10:03 PM
Post #11 of 14 (1839 views)
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Re: [stephepearson] Liability Insurance for Instructors [In reply to] Can't Post

If I were you I would research historical legal cases so you are making points from actual data related skydiving lawsuits as opposed to assumptions based on what people tell you in an internet forum.

You could also consult a personal injury or wrongful death attorney for purposes of research, although that could be expensive, most attorneys will chat with you over the phone for a few minutes or so for free and give you enough general information that you could use it as a starting point to do more research.

One thing I do know, although I am no expert, is that injury and death lawsuits typically run in the millions, which even losing a single one would completely wipe out and bankrupt a DZ. Injury and/or death has occured at most larger DZ's throughout the US (I assume you're writing this from a US perspective, after all we lead the way in being excessively litigious). Just browse through dropzone.com's fatality database. The fact that every one of those DZ's continues to operate proves to me that waivers definitely do hold up; although again in the context of a research paper I would research the actual data and draw your conclusions from there.


(This post was edited by -SK- on Oct 15, 2012, 10:04 PM)


GLIDEANGLE  (D 30292)

Oct 16, 2012, 4:25 AM
Post #12 of 14 (1779 views)
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Re: [stephepearson] Liability Insurance for Instructors [In reply to] Can't Post

Possibly the single most powerful tool as an instructor is to say "NO".

No, it is too windy.
No, you are too fat.
No, you lack the flexibility.
No, you lack the capacity to remember and execute EPs.

It isn't always pretty... But often it is the best answer.


Andy9o8  (D License)

Oct 20, 2012, 7:13 AM
Post #13 of 14 (1608 views)
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Re: [stephepearson] Liability Insurance for Instructors [In reply to] Can't Post

In reply to:
I know ....

There's your first mistake. Speaking authoritatively as though you know, when in fact you only presume, based on far less hard data than is necessary to really "know". I used to do it, too, when I was college age, and it took getting my ass embarrassingly handed to me to get me to stop.

I'm 30 years older than you. I'm also a skydiver, a lawyer, worked many years in the legal, underwriting, claims and regulatory ends of the insurance industry, have handled many serious liability cases (both sides), many insurance coverage cases (both sides), and have represented the various parts of the aviation and skydiving industries. And I'm here to tell you that (a) you're far less correct or well-informed than you think, and (b) you really need to learn more and speak less. Humility, as distinguished from arrogance, is a learned skill that most people can gather with practice.

Attitude? Yeah. Deal with it. Humbly, if you can.


Maksimsf  (B 37743)

Oct 21, 2012, 10:07 PM
Post #14 of 14 (1485 views)
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Re: [Andy9o8] Liability Insurance for Instructors [In reply to] Can't Post

Liability Insurance for AFFI's, Packers, TM's, Riggers, ect... may be, but then AFF will cost $3k+, pack job $15+ and RI $200+.. No thanks Unsure I'm ok with waiver.


(This post was edited by Maksimsf on Oct 21, 2012, 10:09 PM)



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