Some four out of five pilots may need renter's insurance

March 3, 2008

Some four out of five pilots may need renter's insurance
FBO policies may cover only FBO, not renter pilot

About 80 percent of all pilots fly aircraft they rent or borrow, rather than own. And aircraft renters often have no idea what aircraft insurance coverage, if any, protects them.

"FBO/flight school policies on rental fleets often cover the interests of the FBO or school, not the renter pilot," said Greg Sterling, AOPA Insurance Agency. "Smart renter-pilots need to verify if, and how, they are covered. Otherwise, they should consider renter's insurance."

To help, AOPA is re-launching its AOPA Personal Non-Owned Aircraft Insurance Program. Coverage is available for bodily injury and property damage at levels up to $1 million each occurrence/$200,000 per passenger. Aircraft damage coverage is available up to $150,000.

The coverage is intended for use of non-owned, fixed-wing, single-engine (non-pressurized) land aircraft with a maximum of seven seats and 450 horsepower, operating with a "standard" airworthiness certificate.

Special features of the AOPA program include:

  • Family coverage—Full family coverage without family "sub-limits" that would otherwise curtail reimbursement to family members flying with you.
  • Per-passenger liability coverage—AOPA's program offers per-passenger coverage superior to many other policies.
  • Baggage liability coverage—Personal belongings are covered up to $500 each passenger.

Employer coverage

Objections to employee business flying (flying yourself on a business trip or for a business purpose) often center around liability exposure to the employer or firm.

Unique optional elements of the AOPA program are employer coverage and broadly defined "purpose of use" provisions. Employers may require such coverage if you intend to use a non-owned aircraft in the course of your business or job. Broad "purpose of use" provisions allow sharing of flight costs with passengers as long as a profit is not made from such reimbursement.

Employer coverage is not available if you hold a recreational pilot certificate. It also does not apply if your employer is involved in a number of aircraft/aviation businesses, airport operation, or any other commercial aviation operation.

"The issue of insurance coverage is one thing renter-pilots often fail to consider," said AOPA President Phil Boyer. "And if the question is ever asked, the traditional answer has been, 'Yes, we have insurance.' But whom does that insurance cover?"

Pilots could be flying with no protection at all. Full family coverage can be a question mark. Aircraft damage or injuries might turn out to be the pilot's responsibility.

Pilots should check with their renting FBO, flight school, or aircraft owner and read fully the aircraft provider's insurance policy. Understand how (or even if) it protects the aircraft renter or borrower.

For information on the AOPA Personal Non-Owned Aircraft Insurance Program, call 800/622-AOPA (2672) or visit the Web site for more information.

Pilots' participation in the AOPA Personal Non-Owned Aircraft Insurance Program returns a small royalty to AOPA that helps fund programs for the defense and growth of general aviation.