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Sport Pilot/Light Sport Aircraft Insurance Update

By Bob Mackey, Vice President, Falcon Insurance Agency, Inc.

What's going on with aircraft insurance for sport pilots and light-sport aircraft (LSA)? I get this question several times a day, which is a good sign and means EAA members are actively pursuing the new FAA rules as a way to get into, or back into, flying. As we see more and more of the infrastructure come into place, it's important to keep an eye on the aircraft insurance situation, which we've been doing. So far, indications continue to be favorable; aircraft insurance is available, and the pricing is competitive.

Here's an update on where we stand today:
For sport pilot-qualified aircraft, standard category and experimental amateur-built category aircraft, we're seeing competitive rates for both liability and hull (physical damage) insurance. Current pilots and pilots returning to flying status under the privileges of a sport pilot certificate should not find it difficult to get insurance unless there are serious mismatches in pilot skills and aircraft (i.e., pilots with no tailwheel experience purchasing a tailwheel aircraft), or aircraft not suited for the intended home base airport; (i.e., aircraft based at short strips or airports with very high elevations). Keep in mind these issues have always been a hurdle for the insurance underwriters. Flying as a sport pilot does not inherently create availability problems.

The EAA Aircraft Insurance Plan can facilitate aircraft insurance for current sport pilots and returning sport pilots who seek coverage for standard category and experimental amateur-built category aircraft.

Those flying under sport pilot instructional permits who are considering an aircraft purchase should, for now, stick to standard category aircraft. Insurance underwriters are reluctant to offer aircraft insurance for student sport pilots in experimental amateur-built category aircraft. This isn't anything new; in those few cases when the EAA Insurance Plan can arrange aircraft for a student in an experimental amateur-built category aircraft, the cost of insurance is significantly higher.

It won't be long before we start seeing the delivery of both experimental light-sport aircraft (ELSA) kits and special light-sport aircraft (SLSA). Through the EAA Aircraft Insurance Plan, we are already securing competitive quotes for EAA members planning to purchase one of these new aircraft. However, the insurance underwriters have a lot of questions about the aircraft. (Where are they manufactured? What is their history? What product support exists? What do the training programs include, etc.) There's a tremendous amount of research taking place with all of the new designs and those designs that will come over from the homebuilt community.

Insurance underwriters offer SLSA insurance premiums at about the same level as standard category. This includes current pilots, returning pilots, and student sport pilots. (NOTE: For student sport pilots, insurance underwriters want to know about the flight school and the qualifications of the flight instructor, particularly the experience of the flight instructor in the specific SLSA being quoted.) So far, the insurance underwriters are indicating they will offer aircraft insurance for student sport pilots in ELSAs; however the flight school and flight instructor information are required to secure a quotation.

These are really exciting times! EAA's sport pilot website, www.sportpilot.org, is continually adding new information. Also, if you need to get an aircraft insurance quotation on any type of aircraft make sure to visit www.eaainsurance.org.

If you are current pilot or returning pilot looking to operate as a sport pilot, or if you are planning to start working towards your sport pilot certificate, protect yourself with the EAA Non-Owned Aircraft Insurance Plan. Simply download the online application at www.eaainsurance.org. If you are considering the purchase of a sport pilot-qualified standard category or experimental amateur-built category aircraft, or an ELSA or SLSA, go to the website and request an aircraft insurance quotation. Of course, you can always contact one of the EAA Plan Specialists toll-free at 866-647-4EAA (4322).

The EAA Aircraft Insurance Plan leads the way when it comes to insurance for sport pilot/light-sport aircraft. Regardless of what you are flying, the EAA Plan is the best resource for your aircraft insurance needs.

EAA INSURANCE TIPS is a special EAA Member benefit. If you have an insurance related topic you’d like to see addressed or if you have any comments, please email bmackey@falconinsurance.com. If you need an insurance quotation call 866-647-4EAA (4322).

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