Company History

More About Aircraft & Marine

Aircraft & Marine Assurance agency has been serving the insurance needs of thousands of customers since 1976.

The American Yankee Association

The agency was started in 1976 with only one person, myself. I had a very small client base at that time with only a few airplanes and jet boats. It was an early morning and late-night affair, working in the field all day and typing applications till very late at night. I had only one purpose at that time, and that was to fly and incorporate flying in my business.

My love for Grummans started long before I moved to the Northwest. I was first introduced to Jim Bede and American Yankees through an article in the Popular Mechanics Magazine. This article gave detailed information about this new American aircraft, and how Bede would be able to place one in every garage in America. This, along with the advertised prices, really excited me to the point that I sent a letter to American in Cleveland requesting any information that they had regarding dealers in California and when I might be able to see this amazing bird.

Some months passed before I received an answer. When it arrived, I found out that some people in Long Beach, CA had set up a dealership, and they invited me over not only to see the Yankee, but also offered me a ride. Upon my arrival at the airport, I could see a little red Yankee sitting on the ramp with its nose pointed skyward as if it were already airborne. I ran from my car, not waiting for the owners to greet me and started to stroke and touch the bird. The owner was a sales person and wanted to know if I would like to purchase one and place it on leaseback. Unfortunately, at that time, I couldn't afford to buy it. After I listened to the sales pitch, we climbed aboard for the most fantastic ride I've ever had. We put the pedal to the metal; she performed like an angel. My ride was even comfortable in the right seat which had not been set back for my size.

This one ride started a love relationship that has continued all these past years. On August 17, 1978 a dream had become a reality to me when I purchased my first airplane: 1973 AA1B, 9634L, known as "Sweet Girl." This was my very first opportunity to know Ken Blackman when he sold me the plane. He and Maynard Crosby were owners of Skytrek at Payne field in Everett Washington. Through them, I became involved in the AYA. As I attended a few fly-in meetings, I became aware of a fact from some members that insurance for Grummans was difficult to obtain. I was not aware of this since I was insured through Avemco, and it did not matter to me who I was insured with until it came time for the renewal. I asked Avemco to increase my hull value by a few thousand dollars. In doing so, it also increased my premium considerably. That's when I started looking over the market for other coverages. On several occasions, Ken asked me about the possibility of finding group coverage for the AYA. Facing this very serious situation, I started looking.

First, I called AOA, Eastern, and Associated who had recently opened an office in San Francisco. When I told them we were looking for Grumman coverage, the only response was laughter. Southern Aviation, who at the time was a bit more liberal than INA, told me Yankees were dangerous and could kill people, even those with experience. They would however, take a look at each pilot and his experience before they would give us a quote, but under NO circumstances would they consider a group program.

Back in those days, aviation insurance was HIGH. To soften the bite, several banks around the country started what was called premium financing. Some even gave you up to twelve months to pay. I dealt with Imperial Bank in Los Angeles, which agreed to finance anyone we could find coverage for. I encountered some difficulties with an insured and found I was co-maker on his policy. I paid the premium but never did get my money back. I'm glad he was not a member of the AYA!

With the premium problem under control, I went to several companies for my coverage. My search continued for about five years. When it came to renewal time, I called John Wallace of Global, then known as Global Aviation Insurance managers. He was very receptive to Grummans and not only allowed a hull increase at a lower premium, but also approved my auto-fuel STC. This was great! I asked if they would be interested in group policy for AYA. John said he would look at it.

It was now 1984. There were approximately 400 to 500 members in AYA at that time. I asked John to put together a group package with lower than market average premium rates, minimum OPW (Open Pilot Warranty), higher age limits, and higher hull values.

It took about four months for an answer, but it finally came with an affirmative response to every request. The only drawback was that Global would only pay a small commission. This was not enough even to make a phone call, but this was the deal and I would live with it. Most of the members were insured through other sources. I had to do something to increase the numbers because Global would not continue with us if the group number remained small. In addition, the cost of operation was mostly coming out of my own pocket. What could I do to bring more members into our Group? First I would visit every airport within reach of "Sweet Girl's" range and put flyers in the tie down eye loop of every Grumman I could find. It was "The get acquainted with AYA letter". I'm sure most of you have at one time seen or read one. Next, I obtained a list of Grumman owners from the FAA and sent out letters to everyone who owned a Grumman. I would then run down any Grumman that was not on the membership roster. This situation has existed even today.

We continued this practice of sending out "Did you know" letters to the membership. I can't imagine how many people joined just to save money on their premiums. I am not tooting our horn, I just want you to know that Aircraft & Marine has contributed to this organization over the past several years.

Our current posture is to maintain fair rates, as well as continue to work for the AYA and to assist in its continued growth. We offer a wide variety of discounts to high time pilots. We can also provide coverage for other aircraft if you decide to sell your Grumman. If for any reason, a member is not satisfied with our service, please let us know so that we can do our best to correct whatever the problem might be.
Thank you and may God be your Co-Pilot!

Norris E. Hibbler, Owner