"Some of the earlier projections put it at anywhere from 60% to 80%
higher," Lightholder said. "It's been a very safe airport. We haven't had
a lot of claims against it."
The county holds two basic types of coverage on the airport: one for
property damage, the other for personal injury claims.
The airport's most comprehensive policies cover the county in the
event of damage to or loss of property. The county will extend more than
two dozen policies amounting to $250 million in coverage.
The county holds a "sub-limit policy" of $125 million in protection in
the event of an earthquake or flood.
The cost of insuring the airport itself jumped 61.5% when compared
with last year. The new coverage will cost the county $1.77 million.
The county also holds $200 million in two policies protecting it
against lawsuits stemming from bodily injuries. That coverage spiked
66.5%, jumping to $452,646.
The Sept. 11 terrorist attacks sparked the huge insurance increases at
To help smooth out the dent the costs will make in the budget, airport
managers proposed increases to the parking rates at the airport.
On March 12, the Orange County Board of Supervisors approved a 55%
cost increase to park in the lots at the Thomas F. Riley Terminal and a
71% increase to park at an off-airport lot.
"The [new insurance] costs are high, but it's just the reality of life
after 9/11," airport spokeswoman Ann McCarley said. "The adoption of
those rate increases will help to ensure the continued, safe operation of
Before Sept. 11, the airport also held coverage against war or
terrorism. The insurance providers, after the attacks, canceled those
policies at all airports.
As part of the new policies, the airport has secured coverage in the
event of war. However, Lightholder is still investigating whether to
pursue coverage for terrorist acts.
That policy has skyrocketed and can be bought for about $100,000,
which Lightholder said would be too expensive at this point.
The increased insurance costs were factored into the estimate, by
airport managers, that it would cost an additional $9 million to operate
the airport during the year following Sept. 11.
It's not surprising who will shoulder the brunt of that spike,
"It's going to translate to higher costs to the traveling public," she
* Paul Clinton covers the environment, John Wayne Airport and
politics. He may be reached at (949) 764-4330 or by e-mail ato7