By Peter S. Ireland
Marsh Canada Limited
For those of you who participate in the COPA Group Aviation Insurance Program (Silver Wings Plan and Gold Wings Plan), we cannot emphasize enough that at the time of a loss, it is a pre-requisite that you, the Named Insured on your insurance policy, must be a paid-up member of COPA and have your principal place of residence in Canada.
If you do not meet these criteria, the insurer has the right to deny your claim.
This article has been prompted by the very fact there have been claims filed where an insured has had a loss and did not meet the above requirements. In some cases, the individual was under the misimpression that by purchasing a Silver Wings Plan or Gold Wings Plan policy it automatically made them a member of COPA (i.e. the COPA membership annual fee was included in the cost of the insurance and/or that Marsh Canada would collect separately the COPA annual membership fee).
This is not the case. Anything to do with becoming a member of COPA and payment of COPA’s annual membership fee must be transacted directly with COPA by the individual, not with Marsh Canada.
If you file a claim and it is denied by the insurer because you do not meet the foregoing requirements, there could be dire consequences for you and/or your estate. Any claim for the physical loss of or damage to your aircraft will not be paid by the insurer.
Also, if there is any injury to or loss of life of passengers on board the aircraft and/or other third parties or any property damage caused by the accident, these claims will not only be denied by the insurer, but you will not be defended by the insurer in any litigation which might arise out of such claims.
Considering the cost of litigation in today’s environment, plus the sizeable sums of money awarded by the court system in respect of liability claims of injured third parties, this could very well place you and/or your estate in a severe financial crisis.
Therefore, we urge you to ensure that your COPA membership is valid and current, not only at the time of effecting your insurance policy, but also throughout the term of your insurance policy. The onus is on you to keep your COPA membership active.
Be aware that:
1. Both the Silver Wings Plan and Gold Wings Plan policy wordings each contain a specific exclusion pertaining to being a paid-up member of COPA and being a resident of Canada and having your principal residence in Canada at the time of loss.
2. The following "IMPORTANT NOTICE" (or variation thereof) appears in our "Wings Edition" brochure, Silver And Gold Wings Application form (both online and "paper" versions), insurance policy, Gold Wings Quotation form, Marsh Canada and COPA National websites and other related documentation:
IMPORTANT NOTICE: THIS INSURANCE IS SUBJECT TO THE TERMS, CONDITIONS AND EXCLUSIONS CONTAINED WITHIN THE POLICY OF INSURANCE AND IS ONLY AVAILABLE TO COPA MEMBERS. THERE IS NO COVERAGE IF, AT THE TIME OF LOSS, YOU ARE NOT A PAID-UP MEMBER OF COPA OR IF YOU ARE NOT A RESIDENT OF CANADA HAVING A PRINCIPAL PLACE OF RESIDENCE IN CANADA. THE PURCHASING OF THIS POLICY DOES NOT AUTOMATICALLY INCLUDE A COPA MEMBERSHIP. IT IS YOUR RESPONSIBILITY TO ENSURE THAT YOUR COPA MEMBERSHIP IS IN FORCE AND CONTINUES IN FORCE FOR THE DURATION OF THE POLICY TERM.
The cost of a COPA membership is inconsequential compared to the financial burden of an uninsured loss. Forewarned is forearmed!