Aviation Renters Insurance – How much physical damage do I need?

The following is an actual email conversation from December 13, 2016:

Subject: Non-Owned Aircraft Liability Insurance Renewal

I’m trying to figure out how much “physical damage” I need. All the planes I fly have either flying club insurance or on an open pilot policy, but I’m guessing that it protects the club or the owner more than me. I don’t know how much of a redundancy it is. Your thoughts?



Re: Non-Owned Aircraft Liability Insurance Renewal

Hi Sean,

Very good question which many non-owner pilots ask.

The insurance companies will pay the owner of the aircraft for damage caused to an aircraft. Then, depending on the policy language on the aircraft, the insurance company has the option to collect for the damage from the legally liable third party. In other words, the insurance company can collect from you if you are the responsible pilot that damaged the aircraft through your legal negligence. This is called Right of Subrogation. Also, the owner can collect the insurance deductible and loss of use cost from you.

If the flying club is an equity type club, that is all pilots are real co-owners, then the insurance company probably cannot collect from the club member. If the flying club is more of a rental operation to non-owner club members, then the insurance probably can subrogate and collect.

Some FBOs have paid additional premium to have a “Waiver of Subrogation”. This is where the insurance company agrees not to attempt collection from a renter pilot.  Many FBO managers and Club managers simply do not know what their insurance policy allows as respects the subrogation clause. You may have signed a rental agreement that states you must pay the deductible, with no mention that the insurance company will also collect from you.

As a CFI instructing an individual owner in his aircraft, then the insurance company has the right of subrogation to collect from you if you are at fault.  In most cases, you can have the owner amend his insurance policy to provide a “Waiver of Subrogation” to you by name. There should be no premium cost or small premium charge for the owner.  You should also request to be named additional insured, not just a named pilot or meeting the open pilot clause. Being named pilot or meeting the open pilot warranty simply validates the owner’s insurance for them. As the CFI, that does nothing to extend coverage to you unless you are also named additional insured and waiver of subrogation.

Most of our insureds do not actually anticipate the full value of the aircraft as a likely claim. This simply from a cost benefit point of view of premium. They figure a more likely scenario of partial damage such as hard landings, ground loops, gear ups, prop strike, etc. It depends on the type of aircraft you fly. Your current limit of $150,000 is on the high side of what most carry.  But, I recommend carrying the most you can reasonably afford.

Of course, the most important coverage is the bodily injury and property damage, what you have now is our most popular and standard limit of $1,000,000 each occurrence with $100,000 per passenger bodily injury.

I’d be happy to discuss on phone too.


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