What you need to know about insurance when you become a pilot

You dreamed about becoming a pilot and are taking the steps to make that a reality. Often as we chase our dreams we don’t think about what might change based on that becoming a reality. Insurance, although not on the top of the fun list, is an important piece of joining the ranks of aviators.

You may have an existing life and/or accidental death and dismemberment (AD&D) policy that you bought years ago or through your employer. If so, take time to pull it out and read the exclusions thoroughly. Many life and accident policies will not cover you as a pilot flying for recreation or as a passenger in a general aviation aircraft, or they may pay a reduced amount should there be a claim. Read the fine print carefully. Similar to other activities like riding a motorcycle or mountain climbing, aviation is included as a high-risk activity, and many times the policy is written to decrease the exposure of the underwriter. AOPA Insurance Services has worked carefully with our underwriters to create pilot-friendly policies.

As a new pilot, you may not realize when you rent or borrow an aircraft you could be personally liable for tens of thousands of dollars in repair costs and legal defense fees should damage occur, because FBO policies rarely provide adequate coverage for pilots. Renter’s insurance and liability insurance are critical to protect you against claims arising from bodily injury and property damage for which you are legally liable, caused by an occurrence arising from your use of a nonowned (rented or borrowed) aircraft. Nonowned liability coverage does not apply to damage to the aircraft you have borrowed or rented. However, physical damage coverage for your nonowned aircraft may be added to your liability policy for an additional premium.

When you own your aircraft, you will still want to consider a life or AD&D policy. Often we speak with members who think that is covered under their aircraft owner’s insurance but that is not the case, there is no coverage for you or your life in an aircraft insurance policy.

AOPA Insurance Services insurance experts are able to answer your specific questions. Visit aopainsurance.org to learn more.