Occasionally members contact me to complain about our aircraft insurance not being the least expensive they could find or that they found a better hotel rate through CAA and they conclude with something like “Can you tell me what COPA gives me over other organizations and why I should renew my membership with COPA?”
This question is of concern to me because not only am I at risk of losing a member but also because it illustrates that some members do not appreciate what we do and why they should be a member. For those members who get it, thank you. For those who do not, please read on so that I can help convert you.
There are three primary reasons why people join COPA: insurance (you have to be a member to take advantage of our Gold and Silver Wings plans), the newspaper and website (great sources of Canadian personal aviation information) and advocacy (our collective voice for your freedom to fly).
Unfortunately, for some members this is the order of priority and some are only members for the first or second reason. In fact, the order should be the exact opposite, with advocacy being by far the most important reason for being a member.
From my extensive experience sitting through countless meetings on issues that could have a significant negative impact on our sector, I know that if COPA was not there to remind others of our sensitivity to proposed changes to regulations, for example, intentionally or otherwise our freedoms would be drastically reduced. I also realize that it takes dedicated staff employed full time in order to keep up with the meeting schedule.
The only way to address the demand and keep a lid on the increasing pressure on our sector is through a strong voice that comes directly from the number of members we capture and retain. COPA is by far the largest aviation organization in Canada and the only one positioned with fulltime staff to keep up with the broad spectrum of issues. The financial resources we employ for staff to attend meetings, lobby government officials and report to members on our work is only possible through the number of members we have and the revenue they provide through dues, plus advertising revenue that is in part dependent on large circulation numbers for our newspaper and affiliation programs that are all dependent on the number of members using the services that we provide.
The benefit programs are in essence a bonus to being a member. While we strive to get the best possible rates we can negotiate, we advise members to shop around. In the case of aviation insurance, this is particularly true because although in the majority of cases our plans are the lowest price, this is not always the case. In addition, like everything else you get what you pay for and the devil is in the details.
Price is one factor but fine print exclusions and difficulty collecting on a claim may be ways for the other insurers to make up for the lower premium.
Being a member of other associations is encouraged, but it should not be at COPA’s expense. Other organizations have a lot to offer but they fall short of being able to do what COPA does every day.
When considering quitting COPA and joining another organization, please consider what they have to offer in the critical area of advocacy. Do they have strength in numbers in Canada, how many fulltime staff do they have to be available for the large number of meetings at which our sector should be present. And do they have the financial resources to go to bat in court to protect your interests as COPA did recently at the Supreme Court of Canada?
Why am I am member of COPA? I am biased. I am at the coal face every day and I see the challenges first hand. The various reports in our newspaper and online capture only a small portion of the issues we deal with on an ongoing basis.
For those who are still not convinced that advocacy should be the number one reason for being a COPA member, I ask you to visit our list of accomplishments www.copanational.org/COPAAccomplishments.cfm and then ask yourself if these are important to you and who would do all of this for you if COPA was not there? Hopefully, you will then understand why you should be a member.