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       If you are, do you carry liability insurance? Damian Fowler, author of Falling Through Clouds suggests in a NY Times editorial that the accident rate for private pilots would be improved if they were required to carry liability insurance.

The current policies are not working. Five years ago the F.A.A. set a goal of reducing the accident rate in general aviation by 10 percent by 2018. But it has remained static, with the N.T.S.B. reporting an average of 1,500 aviation accidents a year, resulting in about 450 fatalities.

Perhaps the F.A.A. should require all general aviation pilots to carry liability insurance, which would force pilots to have the superior training the insurance companies would require.

There is currently no federal requirement that the owner or pilot of a private aircraft carry insurance to cover injuries to passengers or a third party on the ground. While some states do require this, the regulatory environment is an inconsistent patchwork.

Typically an insurer will be more rigorous than the Federal Aviation Regulations in setting a minimum number of flight hours in a specific aircraft model, and may require additional training for a pilot who is considered inexperienced or has few flight hours. “The insurance companies study these statistics, know what leads to safer flying, and most importantly to them, have a vested interest in the pilot being properly trained and experienced in the aircraft before they take on the risk,” said Stuart Fraenkel, a lawyer and associate adjunct professor at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.

       Given how expensive A) general aviation aircraft are, B) how expensive flying is, and C) the cost of flight time with instruction, is this even practical? The goal is laudable, and clearly current efforts to reduce the accident rates are ineffective. But… how would this work in practice, and how many pilots would be willing to do it?

        I have no opinion on this, other that to note that flying these days is so far out of my financial league as it is, the question is moot for me.

Poll

On the question of liability insurance for private pilots:

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| 22 votes | Vote | Results

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (11+ / 0-)

    If we can do this to pilots, can we do it to gun owners? The same arguments would seem to apply - and there so many more gun accidents...

    "No special skill, no standard attitude, no technology, and no organization - no matter how valuable - can safely replace thought itself."

    by xaxnar on Wed Jul 16, 2014 at 07:48:22 PM PDT

    •  Or steak knife owners, or those with more than (0+ / 0-)

      one baseball bat. the revenue stream is endless.

      •  Where is the issue? (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Joy of Fishes, flowerfarmer, JayBat

        Any kind of insurance is based on actuarial calculations that consider the likelihood of X happening given the characteristics of the insured.

        If gun  owners are collectively as a group as responsible as they say they are, shouldn't gun owner insurance essentially be dirt cheap?

        Or are you saying that as a group, gun owners aren't as responsible as they claim they are?

        There was no such thing as a "wealthy" hunter-gatherer. It is the creation of human society that has allowed the wealthy to become wealthy. As such, they have an obligation to pay a bit more to sustain that society than the not-so-wealthy.

        by Darth Stateworker on Wed Jul 16, 2014 at 08:54:39 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  responsible plane owners (12+ / 0-)

      The NYT article is pretty much crap. This sort of stuff shows up in USA Today pretty regularly. Light GA doesn't get a lot of love from the airlines, the military, the national security apparatus, people with odd views of property rights, ...

      General aviation is already totally under the thumb of insurance companies, practically speaking. The grain of truth in the op-ed is that there's not an actual federal law, by God, to enforce what is already practical reality. The system mostly polices itself because even small airplanes typically cost $50K-$500K and people normally insure assets of that size. You can't park your plane anywhere useful without showing proof of insurance. Getting insurance is the #2 worry of most pilots/owners right after passing the dreaded FAA medical exam.

      As you allude quite properly, we'd save a lot more lives in this country if people had to receive as much training and demonstrate as much proficiency (including medical fitness) to operate their firearms as pilots do to operate their aircraft.

      "They let 'em vote, smoke, and drive -- even put 'em in pants! So what do you get? A -- a Democrat for President!" ~ Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!

      by craiger on Wed Jul 16, 2014 at 09:24:16 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  The idea (5+ / 0-)

    that requiring private pilots to purchase liability insurance will somehow make them crash less is idiotic.  What pilot in their right mind wants to crash a fucking airplane?

    That being said - the idea itself of liability insurance doesn't seem like a bad idea from a cursory perspective.  After all, if they do damage property or injure/kill people in a crash where they are at fault, isn't that what liability insurance is for?

    Whether or not it should be required or at a minimum, if pilots would be wise to carry it isn't all that controversial in my opinion.  The only thing controversial is the idiotic implication that they would crash less if they were required to carry it.  That idea is asinine.  Nobody wants to crash.

    Perhaps the first step, if you ask me, would be a requirement that new light aircraft be required to have a BRS (ballistic recovery system) installed, and a requirement to retrofit them in older aircraft over a period of time.

    There was no such thing as a "wealthy" hunter-gatherer. It is the creation of human society that has allowed the wealthy to become wealthy. As such, they have an obligation to pay a bit more to sustain that society than the not-so-wealthy.

    by Darth Stateworker on Wed Jul 16, 2014 at 08:03:03 PM PDT

    •  Several problems with a BRS (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Otteray Scribe, Bluefin

      One is, when do you use it? If you're already into the tree tops, it's too late.

      Two, Just because you may be coming down safely, it doesn't mean the landing is assured - you can't control where you're going to hit.

      Three, one more item to be maintained and inspected. How expensive is it?

      That being said, it's probably a critical mass kind of thing. You need to get enough people installing them to make it a standard for the industry.

      "No special skill, no standard attitude, no technology, and no organization - no matter how valuable - can safely replace thought itself."

      by xaxnar on Wed Jul 16, 2014 at 08:16:09 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I don't disagree (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        kalmoth, Simplify, Otteray Scribe

        that using a BRS is a perfect solution for every situation.

        But wouldn't it make sense if every PIC in a faltering small aircraft had it as an option?

        What convinced me of their usefulness was seeing my former supervisors father lose his life in a power loss situation at about 3000' AGL shortly after takeoff due to what the FAA reported as both magnetos being faulty.  He tried to bring it in on a very narrow road, hit a tree, and that was it.  He almost took out a house after hitting the tree as well - which would have equated to further loss of life.

        Had he had a BRS, it would have very likely been a survivable accident.  Hence why I feel they should be ubiquitous, and all pilots trained in their proper usage.  A BRS requirement won't stop mechanical problems, but it will certainly help the fatality rate from accidents involving mechanical problems IMO.

        There was no such thing as a "wealthy" hunter-gatherer. It is the creation of human society that has allowed the wealthy to become wealthy. As such, they have an obligation to pay a bit more to sustain that society than the not-so-wealthy.

        by Darth Stateworker on Wed Jul 16, 2014 at 08:22:25 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Ugh. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Otteray Scribe

          Proofreading fail on my part.

          Should read"  "I don't disagree that using a BRS is a perfect solution for every situation."

          There was no such thing as a "wealthy" hunter-gatherer. It is the creation of human society that has allowed the wealthy to become wealthy. As such, they have an obligation to pay a bit more to sustain that society than the not-so-wealthy.

          by Darth Stateworker on Wed Jul 16, 2014 at 08:23:42 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  I thought at first that article was snark. (10+ / 0-)

    The premise offered by Fowler is silly on the face of it. What the hell is "superior training?"

    People are supposed to have liability insurance on their motor vehicles, but that doesn't keep people from doing stupid car stuff.

    As I see it, the purpose of liability insurance is to protect your assets should you kill or injure somebody.

    Rudeness is a weak imitation of strength. - Eric Hoffer

    by Otteray Scribe on Wed Jul 16, 2014 at 08:12:59 PM PDT

    •  What it means is... (7+ / 0-)

      You wouldn't just have to satisfy the FAA with your flying skills at whatever level of certification you held - you'd also have to make an insurance company happy about them.

      Fowler assumes the insurance industry would be able to do a better job getting pilots to improve their skills AND respect their limits. Plus, he is concerned with the liability aspects. From the story in the book, surviving a crash may be just the beginning of an extended legal nightmare, as this review of the book suggests.

      "No special skill, no standard attitude, no technology, and no organization - no matter how valuable - can safely replace thought itself."

      by xaxnar on Wed Jul 16, 2014 at 08:24:04 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Been there and done that. Got the cap an t-shirt (8+ / 0-)

        When I got my Skymaster, I already had decades of flying time, including having my multi-engine rating. The seller gave me a thorough checkout when I bought it.  Yet, my insurance underwriter required an additional 13 hours of dual in it before they would release me to fly it solo.

        With centerline thrust, it was a piece of cake to fly compared to other twins, since it has no Vmc to worry about.

        That was interesting. Do you know how hard it is to find a multi-engine instructor who has even flown a Cessna 337 or O-2?

        Rudeness is a weak imitation of strength. - Eric Hoffer

        by Otteray Scribe on Wed Jul 16, 2014 at 09:25:11 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I personally don't, but my wife who is the private (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          xaxnar

          pilot in the family does:  And you are spot on.  I was just a the "hanger hubby" while my wife took her training, and received sign offs.

          “My soul is from elsewhere, I'm sure of that, and I intend to end up there." - Rumi

          by LamontCranston on Thu Jul 17, 2014 at 06:40:09 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Pilot and Aircraft Owner (12+ / 0-)

    I am a pilot and an aircraft owner.

    I carry insurance on my plane, what we call "hull coverage," because it's a very substantial asset that makes obvious sense to insure. If it burns up on the ground, much less crashes, I am (or my successors are) covered for the value of the plane.

    I also carry $1,000,000 of liability coverage. That's a pretty standard coverage for anyone who insures a light airplane. It's also a minimum coverage required to use your airplane for certain charitable purposes in which I participate. In many cases, it's necessary to carry that much coverage in order to enter into a lease agreement for parking space at a public airport. It's not uncommon for high-net-worth folks to insure for $2,000,000.

    As to pilots who don't fly their own airplanes (renters), it's a grayer area, but presumably most rental aircraft are insured by their owner/lessors.

    As to the dollars and cents, I have 15 safe years of flying (more than 1,000 hours PIC) on a Private certificate with an instrument rating. I own a Cessna 182, and my total annual premium is less than $1,000/year including hull and liability. My 18-year-old niece pays more for car insurance, I think.

    "They let 'em vote, smoke, and drive -- even put 'em in pants! So what do you get? A -- a Democrat for President!" ~ Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!

    by craiger on Wed Jul 16, 2014 at 08:34:54 PM PDT

    •  The think (4+ / 0-)

      I remember seeing something in AOPA Pilot a couple years back about renters insurance they mentioned something on order of  $125/year for a private pilot to get a reasonable amount of hull insurance and liability insurance ($50k hull/$250k liability if I recall correctly).

      That seems like about 1 hours worth of wet rental time - at least for a renter.

      I don't see a requirement on this "bankrupting" anyone or "killing" GA.  GA accidents happen far less than car accidents, so obviously, from an actuarial standpoint, such insurance would be cheaper in the first place.

      I've never finished punching my private ticket, but had I done so, I wouldn't bat an eye at a couple hundred bucks a year to be properly insured.  As you said - it's likely less than car insurance.

      There was no such thing as a "wealthy" hunter-gatherer. It is the creation of human society that has allowed the wealthy to become wealthy. As such, they have an obligation to pay a bit more to sustain that society than the not-so-wealthy.

      by Darth Stateworker on Wed Jul 16, 2014 at 08:45:20 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I flew hot air balloons for several years (5+ / 0-)

      non-commercially (not charging for rides). That was when I was young and dumb (1975-1984). Probably around 500 hours in HAB before I had to tend to my Navy jet-flying job full time as an XO/CO.

      If every passenger had sued me when they had a bump or bruise on landing (much less anything more serious) I'd be on food stamps or in jail. On the other hand, there was nothing more serious, so skill and luck will out.

      Believe it or not, kids, once upon a time, people took their chances. The trade-off was worth it.

  •  To answer your questions, No, I'm not (0+ / 0-)

    a pilot, and No, I do not carry (and No, I don't have liability insurance). Hope this helps.

  •  The missing data. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    xaxnar, Otteray Scribe

    The article says some states DO require pilots to have insurance, then immediately jumps to the "patchwork quilt" complaint.

    How do accident rates compare for pilots licensed in mandatory insurance states, versus pilots licensed elsewhere?

    Simple question; pretty stupid to form an opinion on the question without the answer.

  •  Here's your license to go kill yourself (0+ / 0-)

    It's what was said jokingly IIRC to a pilot who had just gotten IFR rated. It was a reminder that while they had learned the skills, they still needed to build the experience they'd need to use those skills with good judgement.

    "No special skill, no standard attitude, no technology, and no organization - no matter how valuable - can safely replace thought itself."

    by xaxnar on Thu Jul 17, 2014 at 06:03:56 AM PDT

  •  I am not a pilot - (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    craiger

    but if I were, I would probably carry an insurance policy.

    FWIW, I don't expect that mandating an insurance requirement would particularly change the GA accident rate, and I also don't think that it would kill off GA.

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