Aircraft Insurance Issues
It should not be news to you that us old pilots have difficulty obtaining aircraft hull and liability insurance. If you do get it, you are probably paying more and the underwriter is imposing restrictions like a co-pilot requirement, annual physical and annual flight review. Members are having difficulty obtaining insurance for any aircraft, but it seems almost impossible for our members to get their Mooneys and Bonanzas insured. Multi-engine, seaplanes, taildraggers and experimental aircraft are also a problem.
Unfortunately, we did not know ahead of time, that the company we have paid insurance premiums to for many years had a policy against insuring us old guys. It may be too late for us, but please give a heads up to your flying friends and ask them to check the company’s policies about 80-year-olds. If they don’t get a straight answer, then they should go someplace else. There are some companies that will continue to insure long-time customers, but not take on new 80-year-olds. Most of us deal through brokers. Unfortunately, many brokers are not totally transparent about the policies of the underwriters they deal with.
The UFO does not have much clout with insurance companies. They do not seem terribly anxious for our business. AOPA is working the problem and they have more clout. Pilots in their 60s want some assurance that they can continue flying as long as they are healthy and able.
There is only one underwriter, AVEMCO, that I know of that works directly with aviation customers. I am 88 and have insured my Cessna 182 with AVEMCO. I also received a higher quote this year from Starr through Falcon. I had been a customer of Falcon for several years but felt, right or wrong, that they did not represent me well to the companies they delt with. I decided that I would rather deal directly with an underwriter.
The insurance underwriters are data driven. They have the data on claims that does not exist elsewhere. FAA and NTSB data are limited, and for most part, just represents the more serious accidents. A gear up landing may not be classified as a NTSB accident, but can cost an insurance company $100K. I also expect that some insurance company CEO’s do not want to explain to their Board of Directors and owners why they insured at 80+ year old that just cost them a million dollars.
You want to be a safe pilot and the insurance companies want to insure safe pilots. Safety involves skills, training and currency. A wallet full of ratings does not insure that a pilot is still safe at 85. However, an instrument rating and a recent Instrument proficiency check (IPC) makes you a safer pilot and demonstrates a focus on training. Get out and fly often to maintain proficiency.
I am a supporter of the FAA Wings Program. The many on-line courses offered by the FAA, AOPA and others, can keep you at least mentally current during times when you can not fly as much as you would like. The AOPA Rusty Pilot Seminars and other on-line courses (which count for Wings credit) are a good fit for many of us. If you are a CFI take an online refresher course. Sporty’s has made their CFI Refresher Course free during the pandemic. Sign up!
If you do decide to check AVEMCO out be sure to emphasize your current and refresher training. They seem to be less impressed by total time and ratings (except for an instrument rating) than by currency. They sponsor the FAA Wings Program, and you will probably have better luck if you have completed a few phases of the Wings Program. However, they may not be as impressed if you just started Wings 2-weeks before you applied for coverage. I encourage to establish a habit of continual training. I suggest that you also recommend continual training for those friends approaching UFO eligibility.
Some of our members have opted for liability only coverage. That may work for you.
Some of us are not as proficient as we think we are. I have been to a few UFO fly ins where I have not been favorably impressed by our pilot’s performance, especially at towered airports.
Fly safe! Your safe flying impacts all of us. Please don’t make my insurance rates go up.
Phil Boyer, the retired AOPA President recently joined the UFO. He provided us a link to a recent “Insurance Round-Table” sponsored by Aviation Consumer. You might check out the below link.
UFO VP Membership