The FARs and Your Insurance Policy

29. April, 2015 • 0 Comments

Among the questions on the pilot history form that we send to you each year is one that asks for the date of each pilot’s last Instrument Proficiency Check (IPC).  In answer to that question, one of our insured recently wrote “IFR Current”.  From this response we assumed that he had not had an IPC within the last 12 months, but he did meet the Instrument experience requirement of FAR 61.57 (Federal Aviation Regulations), which means that an IPC is not necessary for him to operate his aircraft under Instrument Flight Rules (IFR).  We called our insured and found that this was the case.  He met the requirements of the FAR for recent instrument experience so he did not get the IPC.

Fortunately our insured did not have any losses, because even though the FARs did not require the IPC, his insurance policy did.  Depending on pilot experience and the model of aircraft covered by the policy, most underwriters will require some type of recurrent training every year.  In this case the only training requirement was that our insured complete an IPC in the insured make and model aircraft at least once every 12 months.  Our insured was legal as far as FAR 61.57 is concerned, but had a loss occurred his insurance carrier could have denied coverage. He would have been legal, but uninsured. The lesson to remember is that the FARs and your insurance policy are two different issues. You may be in full compliance with the regulations, and at the same time you may not be meeting the requirements of your insurance policy…or vice versa.

There are several requirements that both insurance policies and the FARs have in common.  They both require that the pilot hold a pilot certificate with the appropriate ratings for the aircraft and the flight operation.  They both require that the aircraft have a current and valid Airworthiness certificate or be operated under a Special Flight Permit.  In most cases they both require that the pilot hold a current medical certificate.  Watch this one if you operate a Light Sport Aircraft.  The medical certificate is not required by the FARs and in most cases the insurance companies do not require it.  There are exceptions however.  When there are “senior” pilots involved the insurance carrier may agree to provide coverage only if those pilots pass an annual FAA medical exam.

It works both ways.  You could be in violation of the Federal Air Regulations, but your insurance carrier may still pay the claim if a loss occurred.  As an example, if you run out of fuel due to poor pre flight planning you may be in trouble with the FAA, but your insurance carrier could not deny coverage for something bad that results.   There is nothing in aircraft insurance policies that says that coverage will be denied if the insured violates a Federal Air Regulation.  There are many items in the policies, however, that make requirements of the insured if coverage is to exist.

The most important thing to remember is READ YOUR POLICY, ESPECIALLY THE PILOT REQUIREMENTS section, and don’t assume that because you are keeping the FEDs happy that everything is good with regard to your insurance coverage.  If you have a question, call your agent.  That is what we are here for.

By John Gostinger

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