Defining Open Pilot Clauses
Is your buddy insured if he flies your airplane?
Every aircraft insurance policy is different, including its Open Pilot Clause. This clause refers to other pilots who may fly your airplane, but who are not named on your policy. When it comes to aviation insurance, a cardinal rule to keep in mind is that it is the aircraft owner who is insured, not necessarily the pilot who is flying the airplane. It is important that you make certain all non-named pilots flying your aircraft meet the Open Pilot Clause under your policy to ensure coverage is not invalidated. Another important point is that named pilots (other than the policyholder) are not always individually provided coverage by simply meeting the requirements of the clause. We can help you determine the answer to this question when you add new pilots to your policy.
When you own an airplane in partnership with another pilot, both of you are named pilots on the insurance. If you have someone who regularly flies your airplane, you may choose to name that pilot on your insurance policy as well. But what about your hangar neighbor or friend whom you allow to fly your airplane every once in a while? That’s where Open Pilot Clauses come in. Rather than naming on your policy every pilot who will ever fly your airplane, you are covered through Open Pilot Clauses. This is not a blanket coverage – who is permissible to crew an aircraft under Open Pilot Clauses can vary considerably.
According to AOPA Insurance Agency’s Nick Gills, “Some are restrictive, and some are lenient.” An example of a lenient Open Pilot Clause is one that covers, for example, any private pilot or better who’s current on flight review and medical. On the restrictive side, an Open Pilot Clause may (a) limit coverage to a certain age range of pilot (25 years old to 65 years old, for example), (b) be dependent on the pilot’s clean flying record, and/or (c) require a stated number of hours in that airplane make and model.
Gills points out that who can legally fly your airplane as outlined in the FARs versus who can fly your airplane as mandated in your insurance policy may be different. “Open Pilot Clauses are typically defined in the first section of a policy,” he says, but if you are unsure about your coverage, just call us and we will be happy to review your policy with you.
September 28, 2010