Traditional long-term disability (LTD) carriers don’t recognize what we call the licensing risk. That is the risk of an FAA licensing grounding that can extend well beyond the resolution of the health issue/problem that initially triggers a disability benefit. Further, they generally don’t recognize at all those health-related licensing safety issues that cause a pilot’s loss of income, but never trigger an LTD benefit.
For example, a pilot has to have a stent in the left main coronary artery. After 45 days, his cardiologist releases him to return to work. The LTD carrier reasons that the pilot’s doctor has released him and that his health problem has been solved, so they deny or cease further payment of benefits.
Here’s the problem: The FAA won’t even consider letting him fly until at least six months have elapsed between the event and his request to go back on flight status. And, it’s incumbent on the pilot to prove to the FAA that he is fit to fly after the six-month mark. So, he has to know the FAA requirements, have extensive testing, and have his case presented to the FAA Cardiac Review Board for a special issuance. (And, by the way, the board only meets every other month). So, in the real world of aviation, it can be seven to 12 months before this pilot can fly again even though the LTD carrier stopped benefits after 45 days. A loss of medical disability insurance plan would continue to pay him long after the LTD plan stopped.
The bottom line is that traditional disability insurance will not typically consider a pilot disabled once his treating doctor or the insurance company’s doctor says, “He’s good to go.” This is why loss of medical disability insurance, sometimes known as loss of license insurance, was created.
AOPA Insurance Services saw the need to provide this coverage to its members and partnered with Harvey Watt & Co. With 65 years of experience, Harvey Watt & Co. provides the only U.S. pilot disability plans for individuals and small groups we know with an FAA medical licensing definition of disability for pilots who fly for a living. Interested in learning more? Visit the AOPA Insurance Services Loss of Medical Certificate Insurance Web page.