Buying renter’s insurance doesn’t have to be complicated, but it helps to understand the insurance language and what it means to you.
Required coverage is the coverage you need to protect against claims for bodily injury and property damage that occur while you’re operating a rented aircraft. It does not cover damage to the rented aircraft; that’s covered under optional coverage.
Most insurers recommend you protect yourself with the highest amount of required coverage you can afford. The amount of optional coverage you need depends on the estimated value of the aircraft you typically fly as well as your rental agreement and what that rental agreement says you are responsible for. Repair costs can be very high, so you really need your own coverage.
As an example, let’s say, you make an emergency landing in your rented airplane on a golf course and, while landing, you tear up the golf course, clip a golfer, and your passenger suffers a neck injury. Required coverage covers the damage to the course and the golfer up to amount of chosen coverage, with your passenger’s injuries covered by your per passenger sub-limit amount. Your optional coverage covers damage to the rented airplane.
Using the above scenario, let's say you had a $1 million policy with a per passenger sub-limit of $100,000 and optional coverage of $80,000. Treatment of your passenger would be limited to $100,000. The remaining $900,000 could be used to cover damage to the course and medical care of the golfer. The $80,000 optional coverage would cover damage to your rented airplane—including loss of use.
Some policies have per-person sub-limits instead of per-passenger sub-limits. These policies are the most restrictive as they consider any person involved in the accident to be under the required coverage sub-limits—(in this case only $100,000) instead of making the total policy amount available for anyone outside the airplane. There are no related premium savings with this policy, so they should be avoided, if possible.
AOPA Insurance Services is available to answer all your questions and help you make a decision that is right for your needs. AOPA Insurance Services is celebrating 20 years of serving the aviation insurance needs of our customers. Visit us online or call 800/622-2672 for information on how AOPA can get you the best deal of aviation and life insurance.