Nonowner's insurance: Add it to your checklist

By Bill Snead

John felt the airplane rock under the influence of a gusting north wind as he rolled into position for takeoff on Runway 27. He planned to be back in an hour or so: just a quick Sunday morning flight with his neighbor, Bob. One hour and 10 minutes later John wondered just how much it would cost to fix that wheel fairing, replace a runway light, and file out that nick in the prop. Turns out that botched crosswind landing, wheel fairing, runway light, and “nicked” prop cost $30,000! The wheel pant was $300 and the airport manager had a spare runway light, but that prop was a problem, and an engine teardown and inspection was required.

So just what did John have to worry about? Here’s a partial list: damage to the airport property, fire department response fees, salvage company fee to get John’s airplane out of the mud, one aircraft wash job, the aircraft policy deductible, two months storage in a repair shop, one wheel fairing, one new prop (the damaged prop had 25 hours on it), one engine teardown and inspection, the parts and labor to repair the engine, nick and scrape repairs, new paint on the repaired and replaced parts of the aircraft, engine and aircraft test flights including pilot charges, the significant cost of an accident investigation and defense costs, a possible subrogation lawsuit by the owner’s insurance company, a possible lawsuit by the aircraft owner for damages not covered by his insurance, two months loss of use/profits to the flight school, and the cost of an attorney to represent him just in case his friend Bob decided he might have been hurt after all.

Luckily, Bob saw the incident as just a good story, and John had purchased Nonowner’s (Renter's) Insurance from the AOPA Insurance Agency. His policy covered everything except for one FAA checkride, a bruised ego, and a big thank-you to the operator of the flight school that had insisted John carry insurance. Add Nonowner’s Insurance to your checklist. It is an important part of being a responsible pilot. Call AOPA Insurance Services at 800/622-2672 or get immediate insurance with a credit card online.

Bill Snead was named president of the AOPA Insurance Agency in 2013.

Editor's note: Names have been changed to protect the identity of those involved.