Insurer sues helicopter company involved in Kobe Bryant crash


The insurer claims it is not obligated to provide coverage for OC Helicopters in suits filed by the victims' families

More than three months after the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board concluded pilot error caused the January 2020 helicopter crash that killed basketball star Kobe Bryant, a new lawsuit is seeking a declaration that an insurer is not obligated to indemnify the company that allegedly arranged the flight.

Endurance Assurance Corporation claims that OC Helicopters’ insurance coverage does not include the type of helicopter that was involved in the crash that killed Bryant, his daughter and six others. The accident occurred while the helicopter was in transit from John Wayne Airport in Santa Ana, Calif., to Camarillo Airport in Camarillo, Calif.

OC Helicopters allegedly regularly provided flight operations for Bryant’s family and businesses and has been named as a defendant in four lawsuits filed by the families of individuals involved in the crash.

The helicopter tour and charter company was covered by an aircraft insurance policy issued by Endurance Assurance Corp. at the time the accident occurred. The policy provided a $10 million limit for bodily injury and property damage to OC Helicopters. The insurer has provided defense for OC Helicopters subject to a reservation of rights. The suit asks the court for reimbursement for the money spent.

Endurance claims that it is not obligated to provide coverage to the company under the non-owned aircraft liability endorsement in its policy, which excludes “rotor wing” aircraft. The Sikorsky S76B helicopter involved in the crash was a rotor wing not qualified for coverage under the policy.

Endurance is seeking a declaration from the court that the claims asserted against OC Helicopters do not fall within the scope of its coverage and that Endurance does not have a duty to defend or indemnify the company or reimburse defense costs.

The case is Endurance Assurance Corp. vs. OC Helicopters LLC and was filed in U.S. District Court on May 12, 2021. 

By Hannah Smith | May 28, 2021 at 12:00 AM | The original version of this story was published on Insurance Coverage Law Center

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