By Jim Pinegar, Vice President and Director of Operations for AOPA Insurance Services – Aviation
It’s worth saying again—the long-awaited medical reform for pilots is now a reality! In brief, what it means is that soon a third class medical certificate will no longer be required to fly certain aircraft for noncommercial purposes. According to the bill signed into law by the president in mid-July, pilots who have held a valid medical certificate any time in the decade prior to July 15, 2016, may never have to take another FAA medical exam. While the FAA has up to one year to develop and issue regulations before pilots can fly under the reforms, we at AOPA Insurance, were eager to learn how medical reform would impact aircraft insurance. So we went straight to the source and surveyed our insurance carriers. We learned that, nearly across the board, medical reform should have no negative impacts on insurance coverage. What most of our carriers told us is that if a pilot is in compliance with the FAA regulations (including medical reform when finalized), then that pilot is in compliance with their company insurance requirements as well.
In fact, in most cases, the language in policies doesn’t even need to be changed. Many policies already state that a valid FAA medical, if required, must be in place for the airplane owner and if the owner follows the new regulations, nothing will change. Of course, we only spoke to the carriers with whom we partner on behalf of our members. To be prudent, when the FAA finalizes the regulations, you should check with your own airplane insurance carrier to determine its position on medical reform.
There’s more good news for AOPA members. Again, nearly 100 percent across the board, our carriers told us that they do not foresee any rate increases in insurance premiums due to medical reform. Do you know why? Because in more than a decade, insurance companies cannot cite any losses due solely to the medical condition of the pilot that would have been discovered from a third class medical exam.
Our insurance carriers are on board with medical reform. They will abide by the new FAA regulations and, frankly, see no changes required. That’s good news all around for the GA community!
Whether you own or rent, AOPA Insurance offers knowledgeable agents who can talk your language and understand your unique flying and insurance requirements. Visit www.aopainsurance.org or call AOPA Insurance at 800/622-2672 for information on how AOPA can help you determine which insurance coverage is right for you.
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