Getting older doesn't have to make it harder to get insurance, thanks to a new agreement between the AOPA Insurance Agency and Global Aerospace Inc. And for many older pilots, the rates will be lower than those from some competing companies.
Under the agreement AOPA members of any age can get insurance with limits of up to $1 million total and $100,000 per passenger. To qualify, pilots must be current AOPA members flying a single-engine, fixed-gear aircraft with four or fewer seats valued at less than $100,000. Pilots also must renew their third class medical each year.
"Just as underwriters have for years rewarded pilots for getting more training than the regulations require, Global is now rewarding older pilots who commit to renewing their medical each year," said Gregory Sterling, executive vice president and general manager of the AOPA Insurance Agency. "Since most aviation insurance carriers have a cut-off age for accepting new business, this agreement gives older pilots who are looking for insurance options beyond their current carrier a valuable new alternative at competitive rates."
The AOPA Insurance Agency's agreement with Global is just part of the association's ongoing efforts to make insurance available and affordable for older pilots. AOPA also is undertaking a major study to find out whether the safety records of older pilots justify the difficulty they often have in getting insurance.
"This study is extraordinarily important to pilots, because the answers could very well affect general aviation safety and the cost of flying for everyone - something that members constantly tell us is a primary concern," said AOPA President Phil Boyer.
AOPA will begin by looking at all the existing information on flying and older pilots: What kind of research on this subject already exists, whether for flying or other relevant aging factors?
Next, the study will probe the AOPA Air Safety Foundation's extensive accident database, looking for the causes of accidents involving older pilots. What kinds of incidents or accidents are they experiencing? What's the ratio of "fender benders" to more serious situations?
Finally, AOPA will engage an independent research organization to evaluate what happens to the cognitive and neuro-muscular skills of pilots as they age.
"Currently, there is no hard, scientific data to justify the way some insurance companies are treating older pilots," said Boyer. "We're going to find the truth.
"And when we do, we'll report it - regardless of the outcome. This affects all of us. And we're all getting older."
The AOPA Insurance Agency is the nation's largest general aviation insurance agency and is the only aircraft insurance agency backed by the 60-plus-year expertise of the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association. AOPA represents more than 400,000 pilots, some two thirds of all pilots in the United States.
April 6, 2005