Kobe Bryant Crash Aviation Policy

American International Group (AIG) is the lead insurer on risk for an aviation insurance policy set to respond after a helicopter carrying champion NBA basketball player Kobe Bryant crashed on Sunday, The Insurance Insider understands.

Market sources said Island Express Helicopters – the registered owner of a charter helicopter carrying the sports star and seven other passengers – was covered by a general aviation hull and liability insurance policy.

Multiple insurers are understood to have written the company’s primary aviation policy, including Axa XL, WR Berkley, Swiss Re and Great American. Both WR Berkley and Swiss Re have since exited general aviation (GA).

According to sources, the helicopter operator’s cover extends to $50mn, with QBE writing a $25mn xs $25mn layer of the policy. The policy was placed by Florida-headquartered broker SterlingRisk.

Market sources declined to comment on any final claim quantum but said the hull of the Sikorsky S-76 helicopter was likely insured for between $6mn and $8mn.

“Any liability payment could also depend on whether there is a ‘per-passenger stop’ clause written into the contract,” one aviation specialist said.

A per-passenger stop is a type of clause introduced by underwriters in recent years in a bid to cap liability payments and stem spiraling losses in the sub-class of aviation insurance.

The air disaster involving the renown sports star occurred on Sunday morning, with authorities receiving a 911 call reporting a helicopter crash at 9:47 California time.

According to a CNN, the Sikorsky S-76 helicopter had on Sunday received special dispensation to fly in foggy conditions. The helicopter was registered to Island Express Holding Corp.

Passengers travelling with Bryant included his daughter Gianna, his daughter’s friend Alyssa, Orange Coast College baseball coach John Altobelli and Altobelli’s wife, Keri. There were no reported survivors from the crash.

Several (re)insurers have in recent months pulled back from general aviation as the market segment suffers from a rise in losses and an uptick in costs of claims administration.

In August last year, this publication revealed Swiss Re Corporate Solutions had curtailed its participation in the global GA market.

This followed a slew of prior withdrawals from the GA sector, including Brit and MS Amlin, which previously stopped writing the category of aviation risk.

In 2017, the general aviation market was left reeling by a range of losses including more than $60mn of losses on a Mexican military account known in the aviation market as Sedena.

AIG, Axa XL and SterlingRisk declined to comment regarding cover for the helicopter.

Great American, Island Express, Swiss Re and WR Berkley did not respond to a request for comment.