information on what works and what
doesn’t when flying, landing and
dealing with weather conditions.
“We realized we needed an
association to help people stay safe.”
The U.S. Hang Gliding and
Paragliding Association was born.
The association developed best
practices and standards that include
location rating, education for
members and instructor certification.
They even worked with glider
manufacturers to improve the safety
and quality of gliders.
Another thing they realized they
needed: liability insurance. They
wanted coverage not only for their
pilots, of course, but also coverage
for spectators, vehicles on the
ground and land and landowners.
The landowners especially wanted
to be named as insureds in the
coverage. They were nice enough
to let the gliders on their land, but
understandably, they didn’t want
the risk associated with the gliders
should property damage or an injury
(or worse) occur.
Typically, the Federal Aviation
Administration (FAA) regulates
anything that flies. However, Herr
said the FAA granted gliders an
exemption from regulation with
the caveat they were “on their own”
in terms of safety and insurance.
“Undertake at your own risk”
became the unwritten regulation.
Even though there was no
regulation mandating liability
coverage, the gliders knew it was
in everyone’s best interest to secure
it. Protecting people first, then
property and lastly, the up-and-coming sport’s reputation was
Previously, the association was
able to obtain coverage through a
well-respected international insurer.
But when that longtime carrier was
no longer able to write coverage
for the association, the group knew
it would need to be creative and
resourceful in obtaining coverage.
It wasn’t easy.
“It was hard to find someone to
write for this small- to mid-market,”
Herr said. “But that changed when
we went to Vermont to investigate
captives. We looked at Vermont
and learned about options and risk
retention groups. It was the best
option, especially since we needed
to cover members in many different
states across the country.”
THE VERMONT CAPTIVE
In 2016, the Association formed a
captive, domiciled in Vermont, that
fell into a category known as risk
retention groups (RRG).
A typical captive is formed when
a single company funds itself and
insures itself, benefitting from
any derived revenue. With a risk
retention group, many people,
companies or organizations pool
their money and insure themselves
collectively. The key requirement is
that they are like entities — in this
case hang gliders and paragliders
— but it could be schools, members
of the same profession or like
The Association’s RRG is
specifically for recreational
organizations. RRRG’s purpose is to
insure its members and protect free
flight everywhere. They were joined
in their RRG by The Foundation
for Free Flight, The Professional Air
Sports Association and several hang
gliding and paragliding flight schools
across the nation.
• The U.S. Hang Gliding and
Paragliding Association needed
to cover members in multiple
• It chose Vermont because
of its expertise — especially
with recreational risk retention
• The RRG created a robust risk
management program in which
all members must participate.
“Once you have tasted flight, you will walk
the earth with your eyes turned skyward,
for there you have been and there you long
to return.” — Leonardo da Vinci