Member News

Why plan for the worst-case scenario...

Feb 06, 2014

When we’re away from home, we don’t often think about the logistics of an emergency – especially when we are in the midst of one.

When we’re away from home, we don’t often think about the logistics of an emergency—especially when we are in the midst of one. Being in an unfamiliar place during a crisis can compound the stress of the situation.

  • Where will I be treated?
  • Is this the best treatment for me?
  • How will my family members get home?
  • How will I get my vehicle home?

We’ve heard many personal stories from AOPA members about getting hurt or sick away from home; wishing they could get the best, most specialized treatment possible; and wanting to be closer to home and family. They have also shared that they have been forced, in the panic and confusion of an emergency, to pay thousands of dollars to fly home, and thousands more to get their traveling companions and vehicle back home.

We are more at risk while we’re traveling, so we’re more likely to need help when we get hurt or sick in a place we don’t know. That’s why AOPA has developed MedFlight Freedom especially for AOPA members and their families. So much is out of our control in an emergency that we don’t often even realize we have options. But we do.

One call to MedFlight Freedom removes the logistical burdens of a medical emergency so you can focus on treatment and recovery. MedFlight Freedom steps in to initiate and coordinate more than 20 emergency and medical services, including these:

  • Medical evacuation (by air and/or ground) to your choice of hospital so you and your family can get the care you need at the hospital you want ;
  • Medical specialist monitoring: A professional MedFlight Freedom Assistance Coordinator is assigned to monitor your condition while you’re hospitalized and provide ongoing updates to your family;
  • One round-trip economy class ticket paid to send a person of your choice to your bedside if you are traveling alone and expected to be hospitalized for three or more days;
  • Travel assistance for companions (including pets);
  • Vehicle return arranged and paid if you and your traveling companion cannot drive your vehicle back to your place of residence due to your medical emergency;
  • Lost luggage or item assistance to track down lost luggage, personal items, and documents.

AOPA members also have the freedom to choose a domestic or international plan and travel confidently in what MedFlight offers, in the United States or abroad. Annual rates for a MedFlight Freedom plan are very affordable at $169 (domestic: including the United States, Canada, and Mexico) and $229 (international). Both options protect your spouse and dependent children. For more information or to enroll in this valuable benefit, visit  us online or call 855/520-3592.

This is only an overview of the plan’s features. When you enroll, please read your Member Benefit Guide carefully to understand the details of all the services available to you, as well as any terms, conditions, and limitations.

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AOPA Insurance announces new online self-service features

Jan 31, 2014

AOPA Insurance Services has expanded online capabilites of its website to include policy service requests for its customers.

AOPA Insurance Services

AOPA Insurance Services has expanded the online capabilities of its website to include policy service requests for customers. This allows our customers to request changes to their policies any time, 24/7, 365 days a year.

• Change of address for all policies
• Certificate of insurance or binder requests for all policies
• Lienholder change for owner’s insurance policies
• Additional insured change for owner’s insurance policies
• Sold aircraft notification for owner’s insurance policies
• Employer additional insured change for renter’s policies
• Add Civil Air Patrol coverage for renter’s policies

AOPA aviation insureds can simply visit to request these items. It’s that simple. As always, we are available to answer your questions. Simply call 800/622-2672 or visit our website. Not a current customer? Call today to get your free quote; it’s easy.

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The short, successful aviation career of John Kartychak

Jan 25, 2014

What may seem odd to some is that John Kartychack didn’t desire to be a pilot – he just wanted to solo.

One item on John Kartychak’s bucket list was to solo an airplane. What may seem odd to some is that Kartychak didn’t desire to be a pilot—he just wanted to solo. As a longtime member of AOPA because of his attraction to airplanes, Kartychak turned to AOPA Insurance when it was time for his solo. He said, “I’ll be 70 years old next month so this was a big deal for me.” John Kartychak

He went through a ground school course and then was ready to move on. He took lessons at Pacific State Aviation at Buchanan Field Airport in Concord, Calif. At first, his plan was to solo in a light sport aircraft—he thought that would be easier—but the flight school only had one light sport airplane available for instruction and so suggested that he just go for the Cessna 172 with the promise that he could always switch back to the LSA.

“I wasn’t looking to become a pilot,” he said. “I wasn’t going to have an aviation career at my age; I simply wanted to do the solo.”

A few months later, he still raves about his instructor, Moshen Gholampour. It seems to be one of those ideal student/instructor relationships that occur; they became a great team. “He was so patient with me since at my age, I forget a lot,” Kartychak said. “We got along great.”

On the day of his solo, in front of his wife and family, he completed four takeoffs and landings. He called the day “the happiest time of my life—I’ll never forget it.” He had high praise for his flight school as well as the airport community, saying, “Everyone at the airport was so polite and wonderful. I learned a lot even thought it was the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life.”

His last flight was from his home airport to Half Moon Bay on the Pacific coast, accompanied by his flight instructor, to have a fish and chips lunch and then home again. “I’ve stayed in touch with my instructor,” Kartychak said. “I am going to take him sailing.”

Now that he’s soloed an airplane, what’s next on the bucket list? Kartychak said, “Now my wife and I want to do some road trips.”

No matter what your aviation insurance needs are—renter, owner, or CFI—put AOPA Insurance Services to work for you. For more information or a quick quote on aircraft insurance, talk to AOPA Insurance. For more information or to apply for a policy, visit

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Liability vs. Life

Jan 17, 2014

Everyone is familiar with the terms liability insurance and life insurance, but just how do those terms apply when there is a loss?

Everyone is familiar with the terms liability insurance and life insurance, but just how do those terms apply when there is a loss?

You and your bank president passenger are day VFR over the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia when your engine swallows a valve. You respond with the well-practiced skill of a professional aviator and put your airplane down in a hay field with nary a scratch. Great. Under such circumstance neither bodily injury liability nor life insurance should come into play, but what if it had been dark, or if you had been 50 miles farther west? If so, you might well have been dealing with issues of liability and life insurance.

If, as the aircraft owner, you carried liability insurance of $1 million each occurrence with a $200,000 per passenger sublimit, and your bank president passenger was injured or killed, your insurance company could either defend you, try to settle the claim of the injured passenger up to $200,000, or do a combination of both. This protection is premised on the idea that the pilot was legally liable for the injury, and that the insurance company was responding to that claim. Are you sure you checked that oil? Had there been “issues” with that valve before? Remember, it could be up to the courts to determine if there was negligence.

So what if you are injured or killed? If your policy provides “Medical Payments - including crew,” you might receive a small payment (usually $5,000), but unless you carry life insurance or accidental death and dismemberment (AD&D) that does not have a general aviation aircraft, pilot, or crew exclusion, you would likely receive nothing. Some life insurance companies allow you to buy-out this exclusion; others will not. Be sure to check your policy. Your AOPA life insurance program has no aviation exclusions, and coverage is available for up to $1 million. AOPA members can also add up to $300,000 of AD&D insurance regardless of pilot experience, and can add dependent family coverage for your spouse or unmarried children under age 25. If you are currently enrolled in the AOPA AD&D Plan and would like to change your plan, increase your benefit amount, or have questions, call AOPA Insurance Services at 1-877/432-AOPA [2672].

Visit or call 800.622.2672 for loads of information on how AOPA can get you the best deal for your insurance needs.

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The new year has arrived, resolve to review your insurance

Jan 03, 2014

This is the time of year for reflecting, organizing, and preparing for the year to come.

This is the time of year for reflecting, organizing, and preparing for the year to come. Often, we forget that much has changed in our lives that would lead us to update our insurance. Perhaps you moved, married, or added to your family. Maybe this year you have a resolution to fly more! A lot can happen in a year, and your insurance coverage needs may have changed. You may even find that it’s time to shop around for better rates and better coverage. As a pilot, AOPA should be the natural first stop for you. Did you know that some life insurance policies do not cover you when you are flying? AOPA specializes in insurance for pilots and offers great rates on everything from term life insurance and accidental death and dismemberment insurance, to aircraft insurance and more. Visit our website We are ready to serve you!

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AOPA member hooked on Bonanzas

Dec 27, 2013

If there are two things Roger Cannell knows a few things about, it’s flying and aviation insurance.

If there are two things Roger Cannell knows a few things about, it’s flying and aviation insurance. First the flying: Cannell has been a pilot for more than 50 years. His interest evolved from seeing an airplane occasionally while growing up in Central Illinois to being fascinated by the B-25s that flew over his high school during World War II to attending college as an Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps (NROTC) student and being given his first helicopter ride at Quantico, Va.

“That day, we were being flown to the destination of our long routine hike,” Cannell recalls. “I noticed the pilots were sitting in the front drinking coffee and I realized I’d rather be them.” He put his name on a list for flight training and, in 1957, was sent to Pensacola to learn to fly and earn his Navy wings. He went on to serve with the Marine Corps as a helicopter pilot.

After active duty, he joined the Marine Reserves (Naval Air Station Glenview) and worked as an aviation insurance underwriter, using an H35 Model Bonanza to cover his sales territory out of his Chicago base to Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and North and South Dakota. Incidentally, that 1956 H35 is now a part of the Beechcraft Heritage Museum in Tullahoma, Tenn.

Roger Cannell

Cannell married his wife, Mary Jean, and changed careers, becoming a CPA, a career that spanned 45 plus years. During this period Cannell bought his first of four aircraft, including three Beech Bonanzas, one of which he owned for 34 years. One day, Cannell started thinking about being retired, not flying as much, and the costs associated with an airplane, and he shared these thoughts with the son of a former aircraft partner friend who later called him saying he wanted to buy Cannell’s Bonanza. In a moment he later regretted, he sold the Bonanza. It was the first time in decades he didn’t own an airplane. 

“I spent three or four weeks crying,” he joked. “Then I went out and bought another Bonanza.” He currently is flying about 50 hours a year. His years of flying have included service with LifeLine Pilots and making many trips for kids to Shriners Hospitals. His long flying career earned him the FAA’s Wright Brothers Master Flight Award. This award is given to pilots who have been actively flying for 50 years without a violation or accident. “I got a plaque and a pin,” Cannell said. “My name, along with some 2,000 other aviators, is etched into one of the walls at the FAA building in Washington, D.C., but I haven’t seen that yet. To be alongside pilots like Neil Armstrong is abundantly humbling.”

Now retired from his CPA career, Cannell lives in Hot Springs Village, Ark., a 26,000-acre gated community. With his experience in flying and aviation insurance, it’s no surprise Cannell relies on AOPA Insurance Services. “I have worked with Carol Thompson there for several years,” Cannell says. “We enjoy talking about airplanes and it’s nice to have a contact where we can exchange information and build a relationship. I appreciate her.”

AOPA Insurance Services is celebrating 20 years of serving the aviation insurance needs of our customers. Visit us at or call 800/622-2672 for loads of information on how AOPA can get you the best deal on aviation and life insurance.   

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Charitable flying: A season of giving

Dec 20, 2013

Can't find a new place to go for that $100 hamburger, or perhaps you are just looking for a new mission for your trusty bird? Consider charitable flights.

Can’t find a new place to go for that $100 hamburger, or perhaps you are just looking for a new mission for your trusty bird? Consider joining a growing number of AOPA members who make an estimated 10,000 charity flights each year. There are many excellent organizations that can offer you the opportunity to participate in this rewarding activity, and you can reach most of them through the Air Care Alliance and the Air Charity Network.

But what about the risks associated with such flights? Let’s take a minute to evaluate and address those risks.

First, charitable flight organizations have very clear requirements concerning how and when you are permitted to conduct charitable flight operations. Passengers are required to sign a waiver of liability form prior to flight, and by carefully following the rules of the organization, and staying well within your piloting abilities, you will have gone a long way toward reducing your liability exposure. The Air Safety Institute provides an excellent online program for volunteer pilots.

Second, since the flight will be a noncommercial pleasure flight, such use is already approved under 14 CFR Part 91, and you are protected under your aircraft owners or non-owner’s policy.

Third, AOPA Insurance Services and the six largest aviation insurance companies have agreed that such flight operations should be encouraged, and a certificate of insurance can be provided upon request. If additional-insured status is also required, your insurance broker can request it for you.

As Abraham Lincoln said when speaking of the connections we share with veterans, their families, and our fellow Americans: We are all “touched … by the better angels of our nature” when we volunteer to help our veterans, their families, and others in need. Let's reach out and use aviation to help others this year.

Visit or call 800/622-2672 for information about how AOPA can get you the best deal for your insurance needs.

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Pilot mentored by her flight instructor, AOPA

Dec 02, 2013

From growing up without any particular interest in aviation to being hooked on flying... Nina Ortega says she couldn't have done it without her flight instructor or AOPA.

Nina Ortega discovers the joys of GA

Nina Ortega is a California-based attorney who did not grow up with any particular interest in aviation. She didn’t have a relative who was a pilot; she had taken a ride in a general aviation airplane once or twice but never imagined herself as a pilot. In 2005, she met the man who would become her husband. Len was a lapsed student pilot. As they were dating, she questioned him about how he could have given up this dream and encouraged him to earn his private pilot certificate. Nina Ortega

Along the way, something happened. Len earned his license, and Ortega decided she didn’t want to fly with him unless she could handle an emergency. She says, “My original motivation was to be able to save my hide, but it only took one lesson for me to be hooked on flying in its own right. If I just wanted to learn to land in case of an emergency, I wouldn’t have needed a certificate. I wanted my own license to be able to go places.” Then she adds, “I love flying.”

Len was interested in buying an airplane and kept bringing advertisements to Ortega. She would quiz him: Is this really the one? Is this the one and only? Len couldn’t give an emphatic yes, until he found a Rockwell Commander. Ortega thought she would use the airplane for her own training, only to discover that primary instruction in a complex airplane presents additional challenges.

So Ortega bought a second airplane: a Piper Tomahawk. Now both are enjoying both airplanes, Ortega so much so that she’s contemplating working toward an instrument rating.

Along the way, Ortega had a dual support system. The first is Kristin Winter, the couple’s friend and flight instructor. Ortega says, “My husband introduced me to aviation, but Kristin is the one who made it happen. She was my mentor and my flight instructor. She’s also an excellent mechanic with inspector authority as well. She’s smart and funny and has taught me so much. Plus she is an attorney, like myself, but her specialty is aviation law, of course.”

The other support system is AOPA. “For a newbie to general aviation, everything is so foreign,” Ortega says. “I can’t imagine being an aircraft owner or GA pilot without being an AOPA member—there are just so many benefits.”

Ortega relied on AOPA to guide her through flight training and her first aircraft purchase. She says, “As a lawyer, I know about insurance, but I didn’t know about aviation insurance.” When it was time to buy aircraft insurance, it was natural for her to turn to AOPA, and she wasn’t disappointed. “My agent is Cher Clare, and she was very patient with me and carefully answered all my questions. She was really there for me.”

As Ortega continues to fly and enjoy the GA lifestyle, she stresses to new pilots to join AOPA, as they will find value there for a small amount of money. In short, Ortega says, “If it has to do with aviation, the first place I go is AOPA, and I usually don’t have to go anywhere else.”

AOPA Insurance Services is celebrating 20 years of serving the aviation insurance needs of our customers. Visit the website or call 800/622-2672 for information on how AOPA can get you the best deal of aviation and life insurance.

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Lienholder coverage

Nov 18, 2013

The lending institution understandably wants to protect their investment, so what can you do to also minimize your costs and exposure?

Understandably, the lending institute that helped fund your aircraft purchase wants to ensure your loan will be repaid in the event of an accident in which your insurance company denies the hull claim for some reason (usually because you violated certain policy requirements).

The most common example of such a violation would be a loss arising when your aircraft is being operated by a non-approved pilot. If, following an accident, it’s discovered a pilot not approved by your policy was operating the aircraft when the loss occurred, coverage could be voided and you’d be obligated to pay the lending institute the entire amount owed on the aircraft yourself.

If your policy includes breach of warranty coverage, however, the insurance company would pay the lender the proceeds from the claim in the event of such an accident.

Keep in mind, breach of warranty coverage must be specifically requested, and is often added at little to no extra cost.

A good question to ask potential lienholders before you sign on the dotted line is whether they’re willing to amend your coverage to Ground Not In Motion if your aircraft is laid up for an extended period of time (you’ll need their permission to avoid violating your loan agreement). Many lenders will flatly refuse (usually the larger ones). Although some will consider the request on a case-by-case basis to help you minimize insurance costs when your aircraft is not in service.

Visit or call 800/622-2672 for information on how AOPA can get you the best deal for your insurance needs.

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More choices for frequent travelers

Nov 01, 2013

AOPA members travel frequently. AOPA is proud to announce its newest program to assist with this.

AOPA members travel a lot. To meet the needs of members and to provide them with the maximum amount of flexibility and choice, AOPA is proud to announce the association's newest travel assistance program, MedFlight Freedom.

Building on the success of the AOPA Emergency Assistance Plus program, MedFlight Freedom was developed to give members more choices and control during a medical emergency while traveling away from home. With one phone call, you can be evacuated from the hospital where you’re admitted to your home hospital or a world-renowned clinic for expert care. As long as you are stable enough to travel, MedFlight Freedom will get you there. Coverage includes protection for you and your immediate family with domestic (United States, Canada, and Mexico) or international options.

For more information visit the AOPA Insurance Services website or call 855/520-3592.

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