by: Victoria Neuville
Gyroplanes, or also called, gyrocopters offer the epitome of flight. Combining the benefits of rotorcraft and fixed wing airplanes, they are agile, allow the wind in your hair, and have been historically inexpensive to operate. However, with insurance rates on the rise many gyro owners would have to disagree on the latter.
The hardening aviation insurance market
Historically, aircraft insurance rates were very cyclical with a 3 to 5 year hard market featuring higher rates and rigid requirements followed by a 3 to 5 year soft market where pilots would experience low rates and flexibility. The insurance industry is now emerging from an almost decade long soft market. The cost of claims has increased and with the low premiums insurance underwriters have found themselves losing money. In order to preserve the vitality of the aviation insurance market, underwriters are increasing rates a minimum of 10-30% and tightening underwriting requirements. Recently, another aviation insurance underwriter who previously was the most competitive for gyroplane insurance decided to exit the gyro market citing the poor loss ratio on this class of aircraft.
Not your father’s gyro
A popular argument from gyro pilots is that the underwriters view gyroplanes as they were in the past, a light aircraft quickly built in a garage with an untrustworthy two-stroke engine. Today’s gyros look futuristic compared to popular gyros such as the Benson decades earlier. They are sturdier, with reliable four-stroke engines, have higher horsepower, and some, like the AutoGyro Calidus and Cavalon, are type-certified by the FAA! With a more complex and certified gyroplane, however, comes a higher purchase price and therefore insurance premium. These factors create the additional responsibility of proper training to insure people and property both inside and outside the aircraft are kept safe.
“Proper training in any aircraft is key to safety.” Starr Aviation underwriter Jeffrey Tippins recently stated during a discussion on gyrocopter insurance. Starr has been a supporter of gyroplane insurance from the beginning but stresses that increasing gyroplane safety is the only way to see a reduction of rates in the years to come.
One such operation dedicated to increasing gyro safety is Gyropedia.com, an online resource center for gyro training. Pilots can watch training videos online, CFIs can record pilot experience, and insurance underwriters can view pilot progress to best rate the insurance policy. But it’s a team effort. ALL gyronauts must work together towards the common goal through standardized and regular gyro training.
Pilots Protecting Pilots
Aviation Insurance Resources (AIR) was at the forefront of the Light Sport Aircraft (LSA) movement being the first to get underwriters to write this class of aircraft. It was no different with gyroplane or gyrocopter insurance due to the lasting and respectful relationships built with underwriters over the years. This has not changed with the hardening market and they continue to provide the gyro community with customer service with integrity and the best available rates. To obtain your gyro insurance quote call 301-682-6200 or request a gyroplane insurance quote online today!