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Flight Instruction in Your Airplane - Make Sure You’re Insured

By Bob Mackey, representative for the EAA Aircraft Insurance Plan, Administered by Falcon Insurance Agency

Are you an FAA certificated flight instructor (CFI)? Do you occasionally give flight instruction or biennial flight reviews (BFR)? Does your airplane insurance cover flight instruction or a BFR given in your airplane ... even if you don’t charge for it?

There’s a lot of misinformation out there about how insurance covers the airplane owner - or doesn’t - if you are give flight instruction or a BFR to someone in your airplane. There’s also confusion about how a CFI is covered under an airplane owner’s insurance if a CFI gives instruction to the owner of an aircraft in the owner’s airplane.

Here are a few Q & As on the subject.

Q: If you use your airplane for “free” flight instruction or “free” BFR flights, is your airplane insurance still okay?

A: Odds are if you are giving flight training/BFR to someone in your airplane, you do not charge for your training or the use of your airplane, and the other pilot meets the Open Pilot Warranty (OPW) for your airplane insurance, then your insurance should be okay. However, if you don’t have an OPW, or if you have an OPW that the other pilot doesn’t meet, you may be uninsured risk. The issue of charging for your airplane and you doing the teaching is also probably going to impact your insurance. A solution would be to talk with your insurance agent and find out how you can have your airplane insurance modified to allow for limited flight instruction or BFR flights. (Keep in mind, one of the greatest things about the aviation insurance industry is there is a lot of latitude so insurance underwriters may be able to come with a custom solution to fit your needs.)

Q: What if you want to do some limited flight instruction and a few BFR flights? Can you get insurance for this without having to by a full commercial insurance policy?

A: Many airplane insurance policies have a clause or condition that allows for limited reimbursement of expenses or sharing of expenses. This expansion of insurance coverage does not exist in all airplane insurance policies and there are differences between insurance companies as to how these expansions are applied. If you plan to share expenses or charge for your flight training or BFR flights it is critical that you discuss your plans with your insurance agent to determine whether or not your insurance coverage is intact. If you discover your plans go beyond the insurance coverage, your agent can arrange a policy that will allow for one, two, or a small number of students and/or a limited number of BFR flights. The premium you will pay may be more than what you previously paid for insurance for your own personal use, but it will not be nearly as expensive as a full-commercial insurance policy. (Also see my closing comment to the previous questions…)

Q: What about giving instruction in someone’s own airplane…are there any issues or concerns there?

A: This is a good question because all too often instructors assume if they get themselves named as a named approved pilot they will be covered by the airplane owners insurance. With few exceptions, this isn’t true! First, the airplane owner’s insurance agent should be informed that the owner plans to do some training in their airplane and therefore needs to have the CFI added as an approved named pilot. By doing this the airplane owner is assured of insurance coverage should something happen. The problem is that simply naming a CFI as a named approved pilot doesn’t mean the CFI will enjoy the same, or any, of the insurance the airplane owner has for protection.

The only way CFIs can be assured of adequate insurance protection is to arrange their own insurance. This can be done using the National Association of Flight Instructors (NAFI) Insurance Plan. The NAFI Plan includes non-owned aircraft liability and physical damage liability insurance. Plus with the NAFI Plan there is an added level of insurance with the exclusive NAFI Professional Liability Insurance. For details on the NAFI Plan, visit the NAFI website.

If you have questions about your airplane insurance or if you are a CFI and you want to start giving flight instruction or do a few BFR flights, you should contact the EAA Aircraft Insurance Plan so you can be sure you have the right insurance at the most competitive price. Call today at 866-647-4EAA (4322) or go online at www.eaainsurance.org.

Looking ahead: Bob Mackey will be at the U.S. Sport Aviation Expo scheduled January 22-25, 2009, in Sebring, Florida. He’ll be available to answer insurance questions and provide insurance quotes at the EAA Member Tent, and he will be making several forum presentations on light-sport aircraft insurance. For more information on the Expo, visit www.sport-aviation-expo.com.

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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