Hot air ballooning season is in full swing throughout the country from April until the end of October, finishing off with the largest gathering of balloons and balloonists in the world at the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta. The weather is typically stable during these six months, with clear skies, light winds and minimal turbulence — all music to a balloonists ears.

Ballooning takes place all over the United States, with some of the more popular destinations including Napa Valley and Sonoma County, California; Albuquerque, New Mexico; Sedona, Arizona; Colorado Springs and Boulder, Colorado; the Great Smoky Mountains, Tennessee; the Adirondack Mountains, New York; Vermont (especially during the fall foliage season); the Midwest, including parts of Illinois, Indiana and Ohio; and the Gulf Coast region, including parts of Texas, Louisiana and Florida.

Insuring Hot Air Balloon Operators

Insuring this unique pastime requires precision and expertise. Hot air balloon operators need several coverage lines to properly protect themselves, including Third-Party Liability and Passenger and Crew Liability coverage, Hull coverage for property damage to the balloon and basket, Medical Expense, Balloon Premises Liability and Host Liquor Liability.

Hot air ballooning has recently experienced a significant uptick in minor injury and property damage claims, ushering in a firmer insurance market.

"We're seeing more sprained and broken ankles and balloons striking power lines or damaging cars in front of them," says Josh Sneed, RPS Balloon underwriter and a licensed hot air balloon pilot for 25 years. "Rates across the board for all hot air balloon operators have gone up a minimum of 10% as a result."

Reinforce Operator Safety with Clients

With losses on the rise, client communication and risk management are key.

Sneed recommends that agents speak with clients about attending safety seminars to reinforce skills, help minimize claims and lower costs. Seminars are typically organized and conducted by relevant aviation authorities, balloon associations or experienced professionals in the field, and cover topics such as regulatory compliance, weather and meteorology, aircraft systems and maintenance, emergency procedures, pilot training, safety equipment, accident reporting and more.

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