Why does USHPA need insurance, anyway?!

In a recent conversation with another pilot, he was stating that none of the land owners where he flies have asked or care about insurance.  This isn’t the case everywhere, obviously… but this pilot’s experience isn’t entirely unique, either.  There’s a number of sites that don’t have insurance, and are more-or-less unregulated…

I’d like to suggest a reason to insure a site, whether the land owner requires it or not.

There has been a lot of talk of supporting the RRG fundraiser, supporting USHPA, supporting free flight (hang gliding and paragliding).  I’d like to introduce a different, much more personal, perspective… Being good people, doing the right thing, and taking care of the most important things in this world- our family and friends.

Imagine for a moment, you or one of your fellow pilots has an accident. It’s called an accident because it wasn’t intended, or planned on, or expected… as the saying goes, shit happens. Humans make mistakes, so much so we shrug it off and named it “human error”.

Maybe this person feels other parties were, at least in part, responsible for this accident. Or maybe they don’t have health insurance, or their insurance decides not to cover a hang gliding accident, so they’re desperate for money and will do just about anything to literally survive. Or, if it was a really bad one, the pilot isn’t able to speak for themselves and their family is left making the decisions.

Maybe this pilot, or their family, or someone else that was also injured in this accident, or had their property damaged, or maybe someone that was there spectating is traumatized from seeing this tragedy… or their child is traumatized…

Whatever the case- a lawsuit gets filed and is either against or at least names your friend, the landowner. TAKE A MOMENT TO PICTURE THE LOOK ON THEIR FACE, WHEN THEY REALIZE THEY ARE FACING TENS-OF-THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS IN LEGAL FEES JUST TO DEFEND THEMSELVES. And maybe they lose the case somehow… and Joe Farmer- and his wife and seven kids- lose their house, their car, their land, and their entire savings…

And all of this could have been avoided, if all the pilots flying there were USHPA members, and the site was insured- listing your friend the landowner as an additionally insured.

Total risk gets broken down into two components- how likely, and how bad.

Maybe you feel this scenario is really, really unlikely. Obviously Joe Farmer feels it’s unlikely, since he doesn’t ask that you insure his site… but you have to face the reality that, especially with the US legal climate and culture, this is a real possibility that could- heaven forbid- actually happen.

So maybe you guys don’t see it as likely. Fine. I won’t entirely disagree- there have only been a few instances each year, across the entire nation, among 9,000 or so USHPA members…

But as for how bad it would be… dude, just imagine. Picture his face, when he comes to you with the letter he got in the mail, saying he might lose EVERYTHING… just for being your buddy and opening his home to ya’ll.

How can we- responsible and caring adults, doing our best to be safe pilots while still having our fun- knowingly expose our friend, the landowner, to such a risk- whether he asks for the insurance or not?

Please think hard on this… And if you are feeling me on this, please invest in the future of free flight- by protecting fellow pilots and our friends the landowners.  Help us all come together and do what is right, what is needed, and form our own RRG.  For hang gliding, for paragliding, but most of all: for our family and friends.

EDIT: It was pointed out to me that I did not specifically say one important thing about insuring a site (a landowner or controlling entity)- please make sure this is only done *with* their consent!  I’m not aware of it every happening unbeknownst to the insured party… but needless to say, they need to know and approve of being listed as an additionally insured party.