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USHPA Chapter Insurance

On June 17th the USHPA sent out  this message:

Beginning this year, many chapters may no longer offer daily or
other short-term (less than a month) memberships.

This change was made to maintain chapters as recreational rather than commercial
operations, which could help protect the chapter in the event of any legal
issues. Chapters may still choose to continue short-term memberships and other
activities involving compensation--such as chapter-organized paid rides to
launch, daily camping fees, site-specific flying fees, etc.--but would then
require more extensive and costly insurance than the standard chapter policy.

We recognize that the ending of daily memberships and other changes may
inconvenience some members. We hope you understand the reasoning behind the
changes to better protect all chapters, sites, and the future of our sports. If
you have any questions, please let us know.

I have asked Rika Klein, communications manager at the USHPA, many
questions about this to try to understand it.

I asked: Why did the RRRG want these changes to begin with. I understand it was
because of recreation Vs. commercial insurance issue, but what exactly? Why does
the one month fee pass the recreation test but a one day does not?

The RRG has been advising chapters to migrate away from day-use
fees for the past 3 years and to change the minimum membership duration to 1
month. This change, plus chapters avoiding other commercial operations, helps
them maintain their activities under Recreational Use statutes, which keeps
liability on participants rather than the operation or landowner. This is
explained in more detail in the recent USHPA/RRG chapter webinar from June 11,
which is available for USHPA members here:  (the discussion on
commercial operations begins at 55:57)

I asked: What exactly needed to be changed about glider storage
fees etc? Were these seen as commercial operations?

Yes, fees that are charged independently per use are perceived to
be commercial. By rolling storage fees and other services into a membership of
one month or more, the recreational nature of the relationship is more apparent
and defensible.

I asked: So doesn't the Crestline Soaring Society, for example,
offer these services or are they now provided under the auspices of the
commercial operation? How are other clubs handling these services?

Many chapters are still offering services like glider storage by
building them into different membership tiers, so they become a membership
benefit rather than a standalone commercial service.

I have also asked a couple of chapter communications managers that
also have commercial operations operating at their site how these changes have
affected them.

It is pretty clear that a chapter can just rename their short term fee to
be the monthly fee. Sylmar charges $10/month. The Crestline Soaring Society
charges $20/month. The Tennessee Tree Toppers charge $41.20 for a monthly
membership (includes PayPal fee).

Both Southern California clubs have glider storage for rent. You can arrange for
rides to the top through the CSS web site. Erika wrote to me that no chapter has
opted for the more expensive insurance.

Please contact me if you have more information about this. Yes, there was a
USHPA webinar about insurance and chapters, but I pretty much get all my
information in writing. I'm far too impatient to listen to someone for more than
30 seconds. Thanks to Erika for being more than patient with me.

"Jay Devorak" <<jaydevorak>>

offered "membership benefits".  Glider storage is no longer called
a "rental' or "lease".  It is referred to as an optional Membership Plus
benefit.  It has alway been available only to club  members.  The
"assessment" has been rolled into the annual membership renewal and is billed
simultaneously.  We no longer offer shorter term storage.  The changes we made
started months before the notice in the newsletter.   The club, as land owners,
has additional insurance coverage but it does not include flying activities. No
camping is allowed at the park.  Rides up the hill are not sponsored  by the
club and are between the pilots and the vehicle owners. Our "day use fee" has
been converted to a monthly membership". We don't get much money from the fee
but it helps to control usage to USHPA rated pilots.

I am an unpaid agent of SHGA.  I make none of the decisions but I do most of the
dirty work. In my opinion the mandated changes are ridiculous.  In our 40 years
as a club we have never been sued. I don't think "risk" changes because of how
we define a revenue stream. Risk is someone's speculation of what might happen
in the future. It is not a commodity with actual value.  Risk is more like a
weather prediction only less accurate. 

On the other hand, I am using the mandated changes to reduce my billing
workload.  I don't have to keep track of all those pesky short timers.

David Webb (Safety Director) writes:

CSS does offer glider storage - I have not seen any language from
RRRG or USHPA stating that this was not OK. As a club, CSS does NOT offer rides
of any kind (with or without compensation). There are a few club members that
offer pilots rides up, but this is not run or organized by the club.

CSS used to have a day use fee for visiting pilots, but after USHPA/RRRG
requested all chapters to end this practice (to prevent being viewed as a
commercial flight park), we eliminated the day use fee and now offer a one-month
membership for visiting or pilots who don’t want to pay for a full year.
USHPA/RRRG stated that a month was the minimum that they wanted to see chapters
using for membership terms, so we changed to comply with that. We have
definitely received some negative feedback about the end of the day use fee, but
as a club, we tried to come up with a number (in our case, $20) for the month
term that was both fair to our pilots and to minimized impact to our club’s
revenues (since our club still has expenses that have to be paid).

We sorted through all of this and voted the changes into practice back in April.
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