Question: I have just started flight training, and the flight school is telling me that I need to carry insurance to fly their airplanes. If I am flying their airplanes, shouldn’t I be covered under the school’s insurance policy? Flight training is expensive enough without this. Do I really need to have insurance?
Answer: If you have assets to protect like a home, car, bank account, etc., then insurance is a good idea. Many student pilots and private pilots fly without it because they don’t know it is available or think they are covered under the flight school’s policy.
You are, to an extent. However, if there is an accident or incident that results in the loss of a revenue-generating aircraft, the flight school will go after you for any losses not covered by the school’s insurance.
For example, if a hard landing damages the landing gear and wing of a Piper Arrow, you might be on the hook for the loss of revenue while the aircraft is in for repairs. So let’s say the aircraft rents for $160 an hour, and the school can show the aircraft usually flies six hours a day. It will take a week to make repairs. Now you do the math. The school may sue you to get that money. If this happens, you will be very happy to have insurance.
It is a good idea to shop around for aviation insurance to get the right coverage for the flying you do. For example, there are policies written for renter pilots, instructor pilots, pilots who fly experimental aircraft, and even for drones.
Keep in mind there are often discounts for pilots who consistently add to their skills and proficiency through FAA-recognized safety programs, such as the FAASTeam or courses offered through the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA). A commitment to safety speaks volumes to the people who write these policies.
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