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Flying As A Sport Pilot

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

Now that the new FAA Rules for sport pilots have been in effect for over a year itís time to squelch some of the rumors going around about sport pilots and aircraft insurance. Here are a few of the FAQs Iíve received and my answers.

Q: Can I get aircraft insurance as a sport pilot?

A: Yes, sport pilots can get insurance. In fact, a year ago there were two aviation insurance companies offering aircraft insurance anyone wanting to fly as a sport pilot in a qualified fixed wing aircraft. Today there are four.

Q: If I can get aircraft insurance to fly as a sport pilot will it cost me more than I would pay if I were a private pilot?

A: How much you pay for aircraft depends on many factors, such as pilot experience, past losses or claims, type of aircraft, home airport, etc. However, aviation insurance companies in general do not surcharge sport pilots vs. private pilots.

Q: If I already have an aircraft insured that meets the LSA qualifications and I decide to let my medical expire and fly as a sport pilot, will I have to pay more for my insurance?

A: You should first carefully check your insurance policy and talk to your insurance agent to make sure there are no conditions or exclusions that require you to hold an airman medical certificate. Whatever you do, donít assume you are covered until you and your insurance agent have confirmed your insurance policy will be valid if you let your medical expire.

Q: Can I get aircraft insurance if I am still a student pilot working on my sport pilot certificate?

A: Yes, you can obtain insurance for a sport pilot-qualified aircraft if you are a student pilot. However, there are a few things you can do that will make getting aircraft insurance easier and may even save you some money:

Make sure you are selecting the right aircraft to learn in. Aviation insurance companies are not fond of student pilots in tail wheel aircraft. Youíll be better off if you go with a tricycle gear aircraft for training. You can always switch over to a tail wheel aircraft later after you have gotten your license and accumulated more flying experience.

Know who your instructor is going to be and provide this information when you go to get a quote on aircraft insurance. Aviation insurance companies are more likely to provide a quote if they know about the instructorís qualifications. Pick the right airport. Aviation insurance companies do not favor student pilots learning on a short grass strip. If you are set on learning at a grass strip, pick one that has at least 2,500 ft in length and no obstructions. Better yet, do your training at an airport that has hard surfaces and move over to the grass strip after youíve obtained your license and gotten more experience.

Q: Does a student pilot working on a private pilot license get a lower premium for aircraft insurance than a student pilot working on a sport pilot license?

A: When the aviation insurance company sets the terms and prices for aircraft insurance it rates student pilots the same regardless of whether they are working on their private pilot license or sport pilot license.

Q: I was told that a private pilot who has left aviation and later wants to fly as a sport pilot is charged more for insurance than pilots who are current and decide to let their medical lapse and fly as a sport pilot. Is this true?

A: All of the aviation insurance companies that offer insurance for sport pilots rate each pilot on the basis of individual experience. This means a private pilot with 500 total hours would receive a rate based on that experience. The same would be true if the pilot is a retired airline captain and has 25,000 hours.

Q: Is insurance more expensive if you have an experimental light-sport aircraft (E-LSA) verses a special light-sport aircraft (S-LSA)?

A: So far no aviation insurance company appears to be rating E-LSA higher than S-LSA.

The landscape is always changing in the aviation insurance industry and at Falcon Insurance Agency we work very hard to stay on top of whatís going on. If you are looking to purchase a light-sport aircraft call the EAA Aircraft Insurance Plan at 866-647-4EAA (4322), or go online to www.eaainsurance.org to submit an online quote request. EAA and Falcon Insurance Agency are continuing to work very hard to make sure aircraft insurance is available for sport pilots and light-sport aircraft owners.

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 Bob Mackey. If you need an insurance quotation call 866-647-4EAA (4322) or submit the online quote request form.

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