Insurance might seem like a very conservative industry, one that would resist the march of technology as long as possible. That’s true in some ways (ever faxed an insurance renewal form in after filling out the same information five times?), but a new app from Starr Aviation is a refreshing change. It offers pilots the option to purchase renters insurance right from the app, and the ability to track flying skill over time.
Starr has long been a leader in both general aviation underwriting and adopting technology. They broke new ground earlier this year by partnering with SkyWatch.AI to offer drone insurance coverage by the hour. This new initiative seems to build on that philosophy of 24/7, automated underwriting.
The new Starr Gate app starts by asking a few simple questions about you and the type of flying you do, then provides instant quotes for renters insurance. You can review the coverage limits and then purchase a policy on the spot. This is convenient, but the bigger advance here is the option to buy coverage by the month instead of just an annual policy. This is great for seasonal flyers, who may not want to pay for insurance during the winter months when they aren’t flying.
The other interesting feature is free access to CloudAhoy, a flight logging and analysis app we’ve reviewed many times before. The idea is that pilots will upload track logs from an electronic flight bag app, analyze their performance, and get rewarded for good flying. This is a valuable tool, included at no charge, and comes complete with CloudAhoy’s latest flight scoring tool. So if you flew a standard departure and then a pattern an landing, the app can give you a 95 for a great flight or a 65 for a marginal one.
Starr says pilots “could save up to 35% on aircraft renters insurance when you demonstrate safe habits in the cockpit.” We’ll have to see how this works as more and more pilots sign up, but Starr does state that rates can’t go up because of this information. There’s a competitive aspect of this too, as Starr Gate encourages pilots to share their score.
Starr Gate is a fairly bold step for the insurance industry, and it should be welcomed by pilots, but this is clearly early in the process. For one, the app is only available for iPad (no iPhone) and it doesn’t even work in landscape orientation yet. Of course if you own your own airplane and you’re looking for hull and liability insurance, the app can’t offer that. Renters insurance underwriting is mostly automated (a few simple questions can determine the premium), but that’s not true for owners. If you want insurance for your Cessna 182, a person will probably evaluate your qualifications and hull value before providing a quote.
You can download the Starr Gate app for free in the App Store.