As pilots, most of our training revolves around safety. The last thing any of us wants is an accident. However, accidents happen, and we train for that too. If an accident ever happens to you, there are some important steps to take to ensure that everyone is safe, no regulations have been violated, and that insurance matters have been handled properly.
Here’s a quick rundown of what you want to do in the event of an aircraft accident:
1. Get away from the aircraft
. You never know if a fire will start, so get yourself and your passengers to a safe distance from the aircraft.
2. Assess medical needs
. Has anyone been injured? If you’re at an airport, notify the authorities. Call 911 if you’re not. Try to be calm.
3. Report the accident
. Assess the damage and any injuries to determine if NTSB reporting is required in accordance with Part 830
. Unnecessary reporting may produce unwelcome scrutiny. Remember: only accidents (as defined by the rules) and a few itemized incidents must be reported, and they must be reported to the NTSB, not the FAA..
4. Call your insurance agent
. Your agent will ask you questions about the time, date, location, and other important details of the accident. Try to collect it all before calling.
5. Get pictures
. Once the authorities arrive, they will relocate the aircraft to a safe location and moving it could cause further damage. Before it is moved, get pictures from every angle to show all the damage.
6. Protect your aircraft
. Depending on the location and severity of the accident, you may need to wait for the authorities or your insurance carrier to authorize the movement of your aircraft to a secure area. It may also be your responsibility to see that the aircraft if is relocated. Make sure the new location is secure yet accessible to you and your insurance claims person. Consider a local FBO or repair shop.
It’s also handy to keep a copy of your insurance information somewhere safe, like your logbook, so it’s easy to find in the unlikely event of an accident. Be sure to let your passengers and family know where it’s located – you could be seriously injured and need them to locate it.
Print this list and keep it with your logbook and insurance information, as an accident checklist. You might find it helps you organize your thoughts in those frantic moments following an accident or incident.
When speaking to the NTSB and your insurance carrier, it's important to know whether you’ve had an accident or an incident. FARs explain the difference. You also want to cooperate with your insurance carrier and provide them with the information needed to complete the repairs and settle the claim. Unlike other insurance experiences, aircraft insurers want to work with you to ensure that your aircraft is repaired and returned to you in a timely manner. Select your repair shop based on reputation first. If the carrier doesn’t cover the entire repair cost, isn’t it worth a little cash out of pocket to ensure quality repair? If it is considered a total loss, the insurer wants to pay you, close the claim, and deal with the salvage just as much as you do.
We, at AOPA Insurance Services, hope you never need to use this information. But if you ever do, you can rely on us to provide you with service that is caring, personal, and efficient. AOPA Insurance Services offers knowledgeable agents who understand your unique flying and insurance requirements.
Don’t have insurance with us? Visit aopainsurance.org
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