Flying Cars Could Create A New Breed Of Insurance

Word of flying cars has been making the rounds for several years now, but it looks as if they are finally becoming a reality. Thanks to the Massachusetts-based company Terrafugia, the first new rides should be delivered to buyers in 2015. To help make it happen, Terrafugia’s founders have already racked up $10 million in funding and are currently undergoing a round of accredited investor crowd-funding on the site Wefunder.

“We were really kind of looking to fund companies that we were excited about,” said Michael Norman, president of Wefunder, in comments to the Upstart Business Journal. “Terrafugia is really emblematic of that.”

Meet the “Transition

Carl Dietrich is the founder and leader behind bringing the flying cars to market. He confirmed the first product would be called the Transition, and it would be “a two-seater folding-wing aerocar that is designed to comply with both highway and flight safety regulations.”

Dietrich said the “aerocar” flew 400 miles per tank in just four hours, fits in a single-car garage, “and takes ordinary premium unleaded gasoline.”

“And unlike with traditional small airplanes, you can learn and be licensed to fly it (in daylight and good weather) in as little as 20 hours,” he added.

Other advantages of the Transition will include being able to convert from flying mode to driving in less than one minute. It will also meet the safety standards of both the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

“This was not an easy problem to solve, but the combination affords unprecedented flexibility,” Dietrich said. “You can park it in your garage, which means no hangar fees and no time spent changing modes; just drive it onto the airstrip and take off, then drive to your destination on the other end. Folding and unfolding the wings is like raising and lowering an automatic convertible top.”

What Will It Mean For Insurance Rates? 

Considering that for a C-152/172 airplane, you can expect annual insurance premiums to be anywhere from $1,200 to $2000 per year, rates for the Terrafugia Transition will be high, especially while the technology is still new and not widely adopted.

Most accidents will not result in survivors either, and death events always bring with them significantly higher costs for insurance companies to compensate. Furthermore, an accident involving a flying car would likely cause greater ancillary property damage to others due to elevation and velocity.

And while this is speculation, we would expect the less stringent training required — 20 hours!? — and the fact that it will be creating a brand new category of vehicle to push rates even higher.

But then, Terrafugia isn’t really aiming for the budget crowd with the Transition. They’re pricing it at $279,000, so it’s going to be a luxury item out of the proverbial hangar, and it may stay that way for some time to come.

How do you feel about flying cars? Is this something you would consider driving, or is it too dangerous and/or cost prohibitive?

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