Do You Fly Naked?

Don't laugh. Surprisingly, there are more and more pilots flying naked every day. Not bare-skin naked, of course, but naked in a more serious way: flying without a life insurance policy that covers general aviation activities. Seth Legatowicz of Pilot Insurance Center explains what you can do to make certain you're covered.


InsuranceAt the insurance agency where I work, we talk with hundreds offellow pilots every week about aviation and insurance. I am amazed at the number of pilotsthat do not know whether or not their life insurance covers them if they die in a generalaviation accident. Do you?

For example, many employers provide group term life insurance coverage as an employeebenefit. Unfortunately, it seems as if employees seldom read the fine print in thesepolicies. In my experience, the majority of employer-provided plans exclude generalaviation in death claims.

Make sure that you are covered

You need to review your current policy or call your agent to find out if you arecovered while flying. If your policy has an "Aviation Exclusion Rider" or otheraviation-oriented restrictions, you should seriously consider obtaining coverage that willprovide for your family in all circumstances of death. If you do not have any coverage atall, you need to evaluate if your family will be financially stable without you.

Even if you do have coverage with no aviation exclusions, you may be paying toomuch for your policy. Although many life insurance policies penalize those of us who flygeneral aviation aircraft, there are now insurance companies that actually offer preferredrates to pilots!

Why do insurance companies have aviation exclusions?

Most underwriters consider aviation activities to be an added risk to the otherpossible risks that could result in a claim. They also tend to group all types of aviationtogether in determining risk. Thus, the well-trained and experienced instrument-ratedpilot flying a certificated airplane may end up being treated the same as an airshow pilotflying an experimental aircraft while performing low-level aerobatics.

But wait… Aren’t pilots healthier and more safety-consciousthan the general public?

We certainly think so, but until recently insurance companies have not taken this intoconsideration. Most insurance companies do not give credit to pilots for having regularmedical exams, which can catch life-threatening problems early. Ironically, better ratesoften go to the vast population of non-pilot insureds, many of whom never visit a doctorunless serious symptoms develop.

On average, pilots are also better educated and have a higher income than thenon-pilots. Both are positive life expectancy factors, yet pilots often do not benefitfrom these facts when it comes to life insurance.

Are there companies that focus on the life insurance needs ofpilots?

Yes, there are! There are now several insurance agencies — including the one I workfor (Pilot Insurance Center in Dallas) — that specializein providing pilots with the best life insurance coverage at the lowest rates. My agencyis staffed by pilots with over five decades of aviation experience.

Life insurance rates in general have come down sharply in just the last couple ofyears. In addition, an increasing number of insurance companies are beginning to realizethat most pilots are actually excellent insurance risks. So if you haven’t shopped forcomparative quotes lately, there’s a high likelihood that you’re paying too much inpremiums, and a real possibility that you won’t be covered if you die in a generalaviation accident.

Make sure that you choose a company that understands aviation

Such companies can differentiate themselves from the competition in many ways. Choosecompanies that are aviation-knowledgeable to ensure the quote you receive is accurate bybasing your rate on normal underwriting procedures and taking into account the type offlying that you do. This way, you can eliminate those ghastly rate hike surprises at theend of an underwriting process. We frequently hear stories from pilots who jumped throughhoops to get an attractive rate they were quoted, only to wind up being offered a policyat twice the initially-quoted rate after their flying activities were factored in by theunderwriter.

Work with an aviation-oriented insurance agent who has a closerelationship with the insurance underwriters

This helps ensure favorable consideration for pilots, and can help minimize theturnaround time and surprises between the time you make application and the time yourpolicy is issued. Just as it’s usually a real plus for your Aviation Medical Examiner tobe a pilot, it also can be extraordinarily helpful if your insurance agent is a pilot,too.

Whatever you do, please review your current policy or consult your agent to ensure thatyou are not flying without coverage. Remember that you are not buying the coverage for youbut for the ones you leave behind.