Massive Merger Launches World’s Largest Aviation Insurer

Massive Merger Launches World’s Largest Aviation Insurer

By S. Clayton Moore

L to R: Larry Matiello, president of the new AirSure Limited; Dell Van Glider, chairman of Van Glider; and Bill Behan, managing director of AirSure Limited.

L to R: Larry Matiello, president of the new AirSure Limited; Dell Van Glider, chairman of Van Glider; and Bill Behan, managing director of AirSure Limited.

Mergers and acquisitions happen all the time in the aviation world, but a recent transaction is creating a very big company. On September 28, two of the nation’s largest aviation insurance brokerage firms, AirSure Limited and Aero Insurance, came together to create the largest general aviation insurance broker in the world. Operating under the AirSure brand, the new company is owned by the Van Gilder Insurance Corporation, an independent insurance brokerage based in Denver.

“Both companies bring a lot to this merger,” said Bill Behan, Airsure Limited’s managing director. “Not only have we significantly increased our negotiating strength on behalf of our clients, but we have also acquired an amazingly broad range of product lines and expertise thanks to the capabilities of our new parent company. We are very confident in saying that we will provide our clients the most comprehensive and cost-effective aviation insurance coverage available anywhere in the world, all delivered with the same high level of personal attention that has become a hallmark of AirSure Limited.”

Consolidation has been rampant throughout the industry during the past four years. However, it has yet to be seen whether this merger will really translate into savings for pilots worldwide, all of whom have had to struggle with increased insurance costs since 9/11.

The move puts AirSure in a comfortable position to compete with other brokerages across the country and worldwide. The merger also provides the new AirSure Limited with additional coverage capabilities for its clients including employee benefits, personal lines and life insurance.

Behan, who has 30 years of experience in the aviation insurance field, first established AirSure Limited in 1984. From 1981 to 1983, he cut his teeth managing the Midwest division of one of the largest insurance agencies in the nation, specializing in aviation risk. He is also a licensed general aviation pilot. He has long believed that the company’s strength inspires confidence in its clientele.

“If you have the right broker, the price is right. If you have the wrong broker, no price is right,” Behan has said.

Aero Insurance is a long time provider of aviation insurance brokerage services, backed by the 100-year-old, employee-owned Van Gilder Insurance Corporation.

“We couldn’t be more excited,” said Dell Van Gilder, the corporation’s chairman. “Adding AirSure Limited to our corporate family greatly increases our presence and depth in the aviation arena and brings additional capabilities and protection to our customers worldwide.

Larry Matiello, who will take over the presidency of AirSure Limited, has been with Aero Insurance since January 2001. He has nearly 30 years of comprehensive sales experience, specializing in aviation insurance. Prior to joining Aero Insurance, he was senior vice president of Willis Global Aviation in New York City. Also a licensed pilot as well as a member of the Civil Air Patrol, Matiello is a member of the board of directors of Helicopter Association International.

The new entity will be headquartered in Denver, with a major office also located in Dallas, Texas. The two companies have long been “good strong competitors,” according to Mattiello.

“The senior management at both companies have known each other for years,” Mattiello said. “Together, we’ll be a formidable force in the industry, with the strength necessary to provide customers the levels of service and expertise they need to actively pursue their aviation activities knowing they have the right levels of protection and assurance backing them up. This is absolutely critical in the challenging operating environments today’s customers find themselves working in, and it is what we do best.”

One of AirSure’s strengths is its ability to provide coverage even for more unusual aviation enterprises. Its underwriters, specializing in aviation, have designed risk management programs for a variety of aviation operations, such as EMS, fire suppression, law enforcement, surveillance, hot-air balloons, and float plane operations.

In addition to serving both businesses and individuals in the worldwide general aviation market, AirSure Limited also administers the National Air Transportation Association’s Workers Compensation Safety Group program.

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