Last time I mentioned the question about buying an aircraft to get your license in. This time its about getting instruction in your own aircraft.
Many an aircraft owner has future training plans for their
aircraft. These plans may include an
advanced rating or a friend or family member that needs to get a license. And if you own an aircraft, why in the world
would you want to rent someone else’s?
That’s great question. And the
first place you should start is with your insurance policy.
Most policies have specific language that addresses the use
of the aircraft. And the use is usually limited to pleasure flights and limited
business flights that might be done in conjunction with your pleasure flights
(but nothing for hire). The use might
include instruction for advanced rating, but not for the primary rating unless
it is specifically stated.
This little clause is important to the owner and
insured. If they, the owner, would like
to work on their instrument rating and they are not flying the aircraft in
actual IMC, they are usually considered to be the PIC. Coverage under the policy is normal. The problems start when there is someone in
the aircraft giving or receiving dual instruction that is not listed as a pilot
on the policy (but might be considered PIC).
In the past we have discussed the pilot warranties and who
is protected and who is not. If you
remember, the open pilot warranty is a pilot category that, if a person meets
the listed requirements, that pilot can fly the aircraft and the owner
(insured) is covered by the policy. But
there is a small clause in ,many aircraft insurance policies that states that unless the pilot is listed on the policy
they cannot receive any training in that aircraft.
This basically says that if you have a friend that wants to
get their instrument rating in your aircraft they wouldn't have any
coverage…and neither would you. Of
course, as always there is a “gray area”.
If the friend meets the open pilot warranty (OPW) and they borrow your
aircraft to get advanced training they might be covered. The key here is might be! If that person meets the OPW and they are the
pilot-in-command (PIC), then yes they (and the owner) should be covered under
the policy. But each insurance company has a different interpretation of the
training clause. It would be in the
best interest of the insured to have the agent contact underwriting and check
for sure. It would even be a better idea
to list the friend on the policy and make sure the owner has coverage.
We see this problem pretty regularly. Usually it is a situation where the cost to
add a student pilot to a policy is very expensive. The owner decides to try and circumvent the
cost by allowing the “student” pilot to get their training under the
supervision of an instructor that meets the open pilot warranty. While the thought might be correct, it is
A good example would be the owner of a light twin-engine
aircraft. This owner didn't have a multi
engine license and needed to get dual and take the check ride with the
FAA. To put that person on the policy
would have cost about $1000 more a year in premium. In this instance the owner decided that the
quote we got (with him on the policy), was too expensive and he went to another
agency to quote coverage without him listed.
In the month after buying coverage through the other agent, the owner
and his instructor had an unfortunate gear up landing. Of course their defense was that the
instructor met the OPW and they would have coverage under that clause. But what he discovered is, as we told him, if
he wasn't on the policy there was no coverage.
There was a clause about non-listed pilots receiving dual instruction in
that aircraft. The owner attempted to
convince the claims department that the instructor was PIC but when the claims
adjuster made copies of the owner’s logbook they found entries that included
dual instruction in the aircraft. If he
didn't have the entries he might have had coverage, but then, what good would
the training have been if he couldn't record it. In this case the claims cost him a lot more
financially than the premium increase would have.
The same situation can happen in just a normal “run of the
mil” aircraft. We have had numerous
owners that have wanted to allow another pilot access to their aircraft but
that pilot didn't meet the OPW warranty.
When we check on adding them to the policy there is a significant
increase in premium. In a few of those
cases the owner has decided that they will let the person fly the aircraft with
someone that meets the OPW, say an instructor.
But again, if they log the hours and then have a claim, it will probably
It’s also important to know that your instructor might not
be covered. Many polices require that the instructor meet the OPW if they are
giving instruction in your aircraft. If
they don’t meet the minimums, the instructor needs to have his or her own
coverage or be listed on your policy. A
good example is transitioning into a high performance aircraft or light
twin. Your instructor might be qualified
by the FAA to give training in a twin or that big single but the insurance
company will probably require a minimum number of hours in the make and
model. If the instructor doesn't have
the minimum, he can’t really give you the training (from the insurance
standpoint). This also can be like a
domino affect. If he didn't meet the
minimums and still gives you the training and you (later in life) have an
accident, the claim might be denied. The
claims department will want copies of your logbook and they will be looking for
any entries that show compliance with the training requirements. When the instructor’s logs are copied and
they find he didn't meet the OPW (or whatever the insurance companies
requirement was) they will have the opportunity to decline the claim.
So what can the owner do?
Make sure if someone flies the aircraft they meet the open pilot
warranty or the underwriter approves them.
This doesn't stop people from getting dual in the aircraft. It doesn't stop your friends from using the
aircraft for training, it just means that, as the owner, you need to make a few
decisions, take a few preliminary steps and possible pay a few additional bucks
to insure coverage during that time.
As a side note, lets say your spouse wants to take a “pinch
hitter” course, but doesn't want to be a pilot, don’t worry. Usually the underwriters will allow a spouse
to take pinch hitter or safety courses with qualified instructors in your
aircraft and often it’s for no cost.
Labels: aircraft, aircraft insurance, airplanes, Aviation, aviation insurance, flight instructor, flight schools, flight training, owning an aircraft