It's up to you to protect yourself as an aircraft renter

  • “The FBO has insurance on this plane—after all, they own it.”
  • “My flight instructor said the school insures the airplane.”
  • “I don’t need insurance because I’m a good pilot.”

Many pilots fly a rental or training aircraft with the assumption that insurance isn’t their responsibility—that the owner of the aircraft, the flight school or FBO, is responsible. Some pilots, more than you’d imagine, just flat out believe an accident won’t happen to them. These are dangerous thoughts to have because accidents happen to even the best pilots, and while it’s true the FBO or school insures the airplane, these businesses are protecting themselves, not you.

Often an aircraft renter is told he or she doesn’t need liability coverage—only $5,000 for aircraft damage. But here’s what that FBO doesn’t tell you: They have their own liability coverage and they aren’t worried about you, the renter, being sued as it won’t impact them. The FBO will have hull coverage to cover the aircraft and more than likely your $5,000 will simply cover their deductible. That way, the flight school or FBO has no out-of-pocket expenses.

When it comes to liability, you have a range of price points when selecting coverage. AOPA Insurance believes you should buy what you’re comfortable with, but really as much as you can reasonably afford to cover not only the airplane but also bodily injury for your passengers along with property damage.

When you buy insurance as a renter, you are buying an amount of insurance for the “occurrence,” which includes property damage and bodily injury with a passenger sublimit, meaning how much of the insurance money is provided for health care for the passenger. For example, if you have an insurance policy paying $250,000 as an occurrence limit, the passenger sublimit will be $25,000. No surprise that amount could easily be used up in the first hour in a hospital emergency room.

In the case of an accident when you are renting an airplane, any number of things may happen, but one factor remains true: No one is protecting your interests but you.

When you buy renter’s insurance for yourself from AOPA Insurance, you are buying protection for the entire year. AOPA Insurance makes it easy. In fact, you can buy renter’s insurance online, charge it to a credit card, and download proof of insurance within minutes. In addition to buying online, you can call AOPA Insurance from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Central time Monday through Friday. Or you can buy renter’s insurance the "old school" way: Send a check and the application through the mail. Once you purchase a policy, you’re good to go, whether you rent once a year or dozens of times a year. It’s the same price.

Buying renter’s insurance really is quick and easy: The only information you are required to give is your name, address, email address, date of birth, occupation, the type of aircraft you typically fly, your licenses and ratings, total time, total time in the past 12 months, and answers to four questions. That’s it. Renter’s insurance ranges from $250,000/$25,000 to $1,000,000/$100,000 for liability coverage and optional physical damage liability, all for an affordable price that makes protecting yourself and your assets the logical choice. For more information or to apply for a policy, visit the AOPA Insurance Services website or call us at 800/622-2672. Don’t forget: You earn a 5-percent discount just for being an AOPA member.