The #1 Risk Pilots Don’t Prepare For
As a pilot, you have a unique set of risks – such as damage to your plane, or injury to your passengers. When you have others' lives in your hands, you have certain risk factors to content with. One lawsuit can steal all the assets you've spent years earning. You also have the risks everyone faces, including illness, injury and loss of life or income. A complete pilot insurance package can protect you in all these areas.
Aviation Risk Statistics
- 1,474 total accidents occurred in 2009
- 7.2 incidents occurred per 100,000 flight hours
- 272 accidents in 2009 involved fatalities
- 1.33 were fatal per 100,00 flight hours
What Is Pilot Insurance?
Flying is risky business and insurance companies know that. So it can be difficult for pilots to find good coverage at reasonable rates. If you’re employed as a pilot, you are likely covered by your employer’s policy while you are flying commercially. But what if you also work as an independent contractor or fly your own craft for pleasure? You will likely need a separate liability policy to cover your other flight activities.
Typically these policies protect you if you cause personal injury to a third party or damage to third party property. For pilots, this can also include physical damage to the aircraft you are flying if you do not own it.
You can choose from an owner policy or a renter policy, depending on which applies to you. Also, keep in mind that if you are named as an approved pilot on the airplane owner's policy, that does not necessarily mean that you are covered under the owner policy. Unless you are named as an additional insured, you should carry your own pilot liability policy.
Do Student Pilots Need Insurance?
As a student pilot, you will most likely be flying a non-owned plane, so you need non-owners or aircraft renters liability insurance. But understand that most student pilot insurance policies are not regulated like car insurance polices, which may leave you open to risk. For example, some policies will hold you responsible if the aircraft is damaged through no fault of your own.
Can Pilots Get Life and Health Insurance?
As a pilot, you can certainly find health and life insurance. Some life insurance companies will charge extra for pilots or actually exclude them from a death benefit if they die while flying. But pilots are not as high risk as it was once thought, and some companies offer better rates and no exclusions. So shop around for the best available coverage and read all pilot life insurance policies carefully.
Basically, you have two choices when it comes to pilot life insurance:
- Term insurance: A term life policy offers the most affordable coverage, but only covers a certain period. For example, a 30-year term life policy will pay a death benefit if you died within that 30 year period. If you outlive the term of the policy, it pays no death benefit.
- Permanent insurance: There are two main types of permanent life insurance, both of which cover you for life, and have a cash value that accrues over time. These policies are more expensive than term coverage, due to the investment component.
- Whole life insurance provides a fixed return.
- Universal life insurance provides a variable rate of return and more flexibility regarding how and when you pay your premium, and how you can use your cash value.
For healthcare, be sure to find a health insurance provider that understands aviators and their specific concerns. Some pilot insurance companies will also offer health insurance. Costs for health insurance can vary widely depending upon the provider and type of plan you choose, so it is important to review several options.
Navigate Risk with the Right Pilot Insurance
As a pilot, you already know how to navigate the risks of flying an aircraft. What you might not be quite as familiar with is how to navigate the legal risks you face when you fly off into the sky.
You are best suited seeking out advice from professionals. Lawyers and insurance agents can be great resources for you as you're deciding how much coverage you need. It's also a good idea to compare several policies side-by-side before you buy, which may take a little research. Purchasing the right policy for your needs and budget that adequately covers your risks is tricky, but your efforts can give you serious peace of mind when you're up in the air.
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