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When a homeowner has a burglary or a driver has a crash, all it normally takes is a call to the insurance company and a description of the loss to activate the policy. But aviation liability insurance is different. It is activated by a finding of negligence on the part of an airline. If there is no negligence, then arguably there is no liability, and no obligation to pay claims.
A spokesman for US Airways, Morgan Durrant, said the airline issued each passenger a check for $5,000 shortly after the accident to cover their immediate needs; it had no legal obligation to do so.