AOPA Insurance Services is preparing to bring to market an innovative new kind of policy that takes the risk out of maintaining a full-time flying career.
Pilot Loss of Medical Certificate Disability Insurance offers financial protection to pilots whose livelihood depends on a valid medical certificate. This financial safety net covers your loss of income due to injury or illness, whether it occurs on or off the job, and is unique as it defines disability as the loss or suspension of your FAA medical certificate.
AOPA has been working hard in recent years to build and maintain the pilot population, since a robust general aviation community benefits industry, pilots, and owners alike. Professional pilots account for a large share of the membership, and many (if not most) also fly for fun. Loss of a first class or second class medical grounds a professional aviator, and the potential lost wages and other consequences of a certificate denial discourage many from even entering the profession. Too often, those pilots are lost to GA as well.
"One in 20 pilots are on Long Term Disability every year based on Harvey Watt’s experience managing plans for all of the major airlines. AOPA is pleased that we can now help protect the ways of life for our members who fly for their full-time careers," said Teri Miller, AOPA director of insurance services.
Medical certificate disability policies are now available to the broader aviation public, and are priced to be affordable and portable. They also can be used to fill in gaps left by policies already on the market. The new product covers loss of salary due to injury or illness that leads to the loss or temporary revocation of a medical certificate. The policy can be “stacked,” in industry parlance, with other coverage an employer might provide. This allows the pilot to receive combined coverage up to 100 percent of their income if needed. The new policy is portable, meaning it is purchased independent of the employer and a job change does not affect the coverage. In other words, the coverage applies to the pilot, not the position.
The policy also precludes rate changes based on individual claims, so no customer will be singled out for a rate increase or nonrenewal based on claims made. In fact, renewal is guaranteed. Disability that leaves the pilot unable to fly will trigger coverage even if the pilot is still able to perform other nonflying duties. Benefits from the policy you purchase are typically tax-free*, another distinction from most employer-provided coverage.
"AOPA has chosen to partner with Harvey Watt, the leading professional pilot insurer in the United States. Their unique disability product is exactly what professional pilots need to maintain their financial security in the case of a suspended or revoked medical certificate," Miller said.
Since each pilot will have individual needs, members are encouraged to call 800/241-6103 to discuss the variety of plans offered, how they can work with employer-offered coverage, or even how their employer may pay for part of the premium with a direct billing program. Visit AOPA’s website to learn more.
*Consult with a tax professional. Neither AOPA nor Harvey Watt are tax professionals, this information should not be perceived as tax advice.