Hangar Rash: Who’s liable, and why?

The term “hangar rash” is commonly used in the aviation industry to refer to accidents or damage to an aircraft while hangared.  Hangar rash typically happens when planes are being towed or moved, however, fueling errors, falling parts, debris, and weather often play a part. While it may be easy to assess the physical damage done to your aircraft while hangared, assessing fault and determining liability can be much more difficult. This can cause a major headache, and cost you a lot of money if not handled properly.

The first person to assume responsibility in the case of an aircraft damaged by hangar rash is usually the FBO employee. Because they are working directly with moving and storing your aircraft, they will most likely bear the brunt of the liability. This is common enough that these workers are insured by the FBO, and in the case of an incident, an insurance claim should be filed immediately. Make sure you find out exactly who is insured at the FBO and how. Fueling truck employees, hangar attendants, and building maintenance workers may be insured differently, and it’s important to make the right type of claim.  In the case of contractors make sure in advance they carry their own liability insurance so you’re not the only one on the hook in the case of an accident.

Once the insurance claim is made with the right person at the FBO the case is passed to an adjuster. The insurance adjuster will assess the damage done to the aircraft, make a report on both the cost of repair, and evaluate the decline in value of the plane overall.

This is where you may face a “gotcha”.  When something breaks on a plane it’s not as easy to replace as a car part or a home appliance. Even minor damage can even reduce an aircraft’s overall value by as much as half. A part that costs you $5,000 to replace may end up costing you $50,000 in resale value. This is why it’s very important that you get your aircraft professionally appraised both immediately after an incident and when repairs are complete.

Of course, If you should find yourself in a bind regarding hangar rash liability, don’t hesitate to contact us. Properly assessing the damage done to your plane, no matter how minor it may seem, can save you a massive headache, and a lot of money.