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Lead insurer for Air Canada crash identified

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Global Aerospace Underwriting Managers Ltd. is the lead insurer for Air Canada, whose plane was severely damaged early Sunday when it landed in bad weather short of the runway at Halifax Stanfield International Airport, the underwriter confirmed Tuesday.

Twenty-five passengers and crew were treated at a hospital following the crash of Air Canada Flight 624, but there were no fatalities, according to a statement issued Tuesday by Joyce Carter, president and CEO of the Enfield, Nova Scotia-based Halifax Stanfield International Airport.

Global Aerospace was the lead underwriter on the account, which was written out of London, said a spokeswoman who did not provide additional details.

Peter Schmitz, New York-based CEO of Aon P.L.C.’s global aviation specialty business unit, said that according to market reports, Air Canada has more than a billion dollars in liability coverage plus physical liability damage coverage that would cover the value of the plane, which is $10 million, with Global Aerospace. He says it appears the A320 plane is a total loss. Marsh L.L.C. was the broker on the coverage, he said.

“It's fair to say any of the major airlines in North America would have over a billion in coverage, and I know that they do as well,” said Mr. Schmitz, referring to Air Canada. An airline spokesman could not be reached for comment.

Mr. Schmitz said as the lead underwriter, Global Aerospace would handle claims in connection with the loss on behalf of other insurers. He did not provide further details of Global Aerospace's percentage of the coverage, nor of other insurers on the coverage.

“It's early in the stage of the investigation, but it's clear (the pilot) had landed short of the runway, and while the weather wasn't ideal, it wasn't the weather,” Mr. Schmitz said. “It didn't appear to be bad enough it would cause this loss.”

“The outcome is very good” from an injury and fatality standpoint, he added, with no fatalities and minimal injuries.

According to a news report Tuesday, the plane's pilot had to bring the aircraft in without benefit of an instrument landing system on the ground, and while the airport had such an instrument landing system, it was on the opposite end of the runway from where the plane landed.

In a statement issued Monday, Klaus Goersch, executive vice president and chief operating officer of Saint-Laurent, Quebec-based Air Canada, said the airline will “fully cooperate with the Transportation Safety Board as it begins an investigation to determine the cause.” An Air Canada spokesman could not be reached for further comment.

This latest incident follows the crash last week of the Germanwings plane that killed all 150 people aboard.

Mark Hue Williams, London-based global head of transportation at Willis Group Holdings P.L.C., said in a statement referring to the Air Canada crash that, “It is unlikely that this event will have a meaningful impact on the airline insurance market. Abundant underwriting capacity means that competition remains high — which, as we saw last year, has kept a lid on premium rate increases. At this time, losses alone seem unable to drive any significant change in market conditions, and therefore the dominant driver remains capacity. With no reduction in the level of capacity, the restriction of insurers' ability to increase premiums looks set to continue.”

Spokesmen for Marsh and the airport could not immediately be reached for comment.