Ask Jim Ask Jim

Your aviation insurance questions answered.Your aviation insurance questions answered.

Jim Pinegar, Vice President & Director of Operations of AOPA Insurance Services, addresses your aviation insurance questions.Disclaimer: The following material is provided for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. For questions concerning your specific circumstances, consult a local attorney.

ROGER: What can I personally do to get the best value for my insurance dollar? Curious on your thoughts. Jim

JIM: Roger, great question. As you can probably imagine, I could write a chapter on achieving the best value, but I’ll do my best to limit my response to a paragraph or two or five… 

Sometimes in today’s environment, insurance is viewed as a commodity and value is misconnected to price. We all know intrinsically that the lowest price does not always equal the best value, but it’s sometimes hard to admit when we’re the ones writing the check – and I don’t know about you, but my insurance is due at the same time as my annual, so I too am very perceptive to price! 

The way I would recommend evaluating value is to first take an honest assessment of your needs and determine what is important to you - this where you start to separate the wheat from the chaff.  Insurance policies generally share similarities in hull (physical damage to the aircraft itself) and liability (payment to others for damage, injury, etc.). However, many insurance carriers have add on coverage, that may make a significant differences in coverage – and the good news is that these “add-on” coverages are typically offered for free or little charge! 

For example, some of the add-on coverages include items such as: damage to non-owned hangers (do you rent a hangar?), handheld avionics (do you fly with an I-pad?), medical payments (no-fault medical reimbursements), spare parts (do you have a spare engine in your hangar?), and hurricane protection (funds offered to help you move your aircraft out of hurricane watch area).  

These are just a few of the differences that can be offered from competing insurance companies – so it may be worth your time to think about what kind of flying you do, where you fly, and what you would like protected. Then allow your agent to compare the differences and related premiums. 

Sometimes taking the lowest cost policy could leave something important exposed….remember insurance’s true value is to make you whole in the event of a covered loss…and that can only occur if we think about our true coverage needs, and not solely price. Sometimes saving just a few dollars to omit a piece of coverage can end up being expensive if something were to occur.  

ADIB: Dear Jim, I need your advice. I am 85 years old and have been an AOPA member since I first obtained my pilot's license in 1970.  I am commercial and instrument rated and also a CFII, which I keep current. I have 1,900 hours of total time, mainly in light twins. Since I sold my 310 six years ago I have done very little flying. I have had a recent flight review in a 172 and have a current third class medical.  

I would like to acquire my own 172 just to get me back in the air, but don't know if I can get insurance at my age.  What are my prospects?  

JIM: Adib – thank you for writing in…believe it or not, we’ve been helping experienced pilots, such as you, secure insurance for quite some time. While we can’t guarantee coverage until we attain a bindable quote, with your experience, currency, and wanting to fly a Cessna 172, I would be surprised if we couldn’t find coverage. With your age, you may have a liability limit or checkout requirement; however those small hurdles may very well be worth having your own aircraft, with the freedom to fly on your own schedule! Please do not hesitate to give us a call!

Jim is always ready to assist and answer your questions about aviation insurance. Email  your question, and it may just be highlighted in an upcoming Ask Jim Edition and you will receive a complimentary umbrella

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