The Insurance Choices as at June 2012


40 odd years ago, a club was formed in a rural area. This was a group of like-minded guys interested in model aircraft. The club slowly grew, and developed along with the technology of the time.
The variety of interests and models helped the club to develop.

Sometime after they had been meeting for a while, it was suggested that members should be insured. So the club implemented a policy that all members must be insured. Some already were insured through their home insurance Public Liability insurance where it was specifically mentioned that cover extended to the flying of model aircraft anywhere in Australia. Those who did not have such cover chose to join the state body of MAAA.
This arrangement operated satisfactorily for decades, including a club officer to validate the currency of members' insurance.

Then the MAAA issued a decree that only MAAA insurance was acceptable in clubs affiliated with the MAAA. This caused a bit of controversy, and saw some members leave to fly at other locations.

Things settled down and the club continued operating in this manner, as it is to this day, although an alternate organisation was set up approximately 20 years ago and is still operating.

Now let's move from facts to conjecture.

With recent events, I got to thinking that maybe the frog was in the saucepan again, and didn't realised that it was slowly being cooked.

For instance, it just dawned on me that the MAAA has taken over our club, intentionally or not, by controlling the major expense of running the club. By insisting on being the sole insurer the MAAA has taken the major control of the club from the members' insurance/affiliation costs, and by insisting on a vast set of rules that affiliated clubs must abide by. Yet the CASA rules clearly define how model flyers in Australia must conduct themselves. They just need more publicity.

Now that there are three insurers maybe it is time to re-think the whole insurance principle. If MAAA were to amend their edict so that club members can choose their own insurance arrangements, I am sure that with correct publicity, club memberships will grow. The alternative is that alternative clubs will form and affiliate with alternative insurers. And we know that MAAA membership represents a fraction of the people who are flying RC at all levels. Only the ones wanting formal competition have joined MAAA affiliated clubs and non-competitive members have to go along with the ride. The majority of flyers are Sunday flyers who just want to fly for fun. There are surely a number of Toyworld/Jaycar/toyshop purchasers who will join a club if it was not so costly.
It will be interesting to get an opinion from the ACCC about whether the MAAA is suppressing competition by insisting that clubs (who are formed of members who decided to form a club!) MUST insure with them.

These statements are from the MAAA website

“2. Entitlement to insurance cover provided by the MAAA and therefore the
use of any sites where MAAA provides the insurance.”

Really? I thought that the MAAA provides insurance for club members, not their flying site unless it is owned by the MAAA. This wording shows the assumption by the MAAA that they now “own” the affiliate club’s fields. Not so, the members negotiated their own flying sites.


“It needs to be clear that non MAAA members will not be able to fly at MAAA
sites and MAAA Club fields utilising MAAA insurance whether or not they
have other insurance cover. There are safety and legal implications if this
were to be allowed.”

Then why has it operated acceptably for decades before being implemented by MAAA? And, note the reference again to “MAAA sites and MAAA club fields”. Not so! This thinking that affiliated clubs’ flying areas are MAAA sites really gets up my nose! The MAAA arranges our insurance as far as most members are concerned, and had NO HAND in the development of the sites or the clubs! The clubs are administered by their Committees of Management, not the MAAA.

And finally…..

The …..(MAAA) is the governing body for aeromodelling in Australia…..

This is intriguing… far as I know, they can only “govern” their members and associates. MAAA insured members have to abide by the rules set down by the MAAA. Flyers who have no affiliation with the MAAA only need to be aware of and comply with the regulations as set down by CASA, so saying or claiming that they are the governing body is an outrageous statement.

Clubs need to find a mechanism to disaffiliate with MAAA and yet be able to allow members who want to, join the MAAA if it suits their needs better than the alternatives.

Is this the key to stagnating membership of clubs? With three insurer organisations now functioning, the way must be opened so that each respects each other in the same way as other insurers in other fields do, and all clubs will benefit.

I know this is an over-simplification, but we have to start somewhere. So constitutions may need to be changed among other actions, but there must be a solution to the apparent monopolised grip that the MAAA has over clubs, and consequently, the members of those clubs. Surely we are entitled to be able to choose who we insure with. And I recognise the many volunteers who have worked for the MAAA.

The Bottom Line....

It would be great for aeromodelling and club membership if these organisations acknowledged each other, and respected each club member's individual choice of the type of liability insurance which suits them, allowing multiple insurance arrangements in any given club. It would also spread the risk too.

Update: Will your organisation allow members of another organisation to fly with your members,
& are your members permitted to fly with members of another orgabisation?

MAAA >  NO        MSAA >   YES *      AMAS >   YES *       (* verified by email)

MAAA policy is clearly on their website, although any update will be welcome.

If you always do what you have always done, you will always get what you have always got.

15/6/2012 UPDATE

I just received this.......

The following information has been received from MAAA and should answer the final questions regarding Insurance and Alternate Organisations

“The Lawyers reviewed MAAA MOP057 and the wording of the MAAA Public Liability Policy. Their advice is that MAAA is entitled, like any other organisation, to apply conditions of membership it deems appropriate and expect that those conditions will be enforced and complied with by members. MOP057 fully outlines the current conditions, open to the public to be able to make an informed decision, and stand as the statement of MAAA membership."

So they would rather lose complete clubs rather than individuals! Time will tell.




MSAA   est. 1993  email kbancrof@tpg dot com dot au for full info pack.