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There’s a rumor going around the general aviation community that insurance companies are not covering pilots who are flying under BasicMed.
And it’s just not true, according to several aviation insurance insiders.
“The insurance companies are covering BasicMed,” says Jon Harden, founder of Aviation Insurance Resources (AIR). “There’s been no problem at all.”
Bill Bowman, vice president of Assured Partners Aerospace Insurance, which handles insurance for the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA), agrees.
“We haven’t seen that at all,” he says. “We rarely encounter any issues with BasicMed.”
As with anything in life, there are some exceptions to the rule.
“There are a few exceptions and they would fall under these three things: The type of aircraft, the age of the pilot, and limits of liability,” Harden says.
For instance, for older pilots, say 70 or older, insurance companies may still want an FAA medical.
Pilots who fly high performance aircraft may also find that BasicMed will just not cut it for the insurance company.
“The other thing is with higher limits liability underwriters like to make sure they mitigate the risk by having taken everything into consideration, and that could mean requiring an FAA medical,” he said.
A Tighter Market
What may be driving the rumors is not related to BasicMed, but rather today’s insurance marketplace.
“The market’s gotten a whole lot tighter,” Harden notes. “This year the insurance market starting raising rates.”
According to Bowman, average premiums have been falling for 10 years straight.
“It’s reached a point where it can’t keep falling,” he notes.
In concert with that, insurance companies are “tightening up on underwriting,” which means requiring a lot more from pilots and aircraft owners, such as an instrument rating or an FAA medical rather than BasicMed.
“It’s part of the cyclical nature of the aviation insurance industry,” Harden says.
It’s also different with each company.
“Each carrier has different requirements, with some carriers requiring more of pilots who are 75, while for others it’s 80,” Bowman says. “Some may require an annual flight review, which is more important to them than a medical certificate or they may want the pilot to get a BasicMed physician exam every year, instead of every four years.”
He advises pilots to carefully consider the different quotes they get for their insurance. While one may have a less expensive premium, it will actually cost the pilot more because it may require more training, which costs money, he notes.
“A policy may be a bit more money, but it’s a better fit for the pilot,” he explains.
BasicMed a boon to GA
All in all, BasicMed has been great for general aviation, according to Harden.
“I’ve seen a lot of people coming back to flying because of it or continuing to fly,” he says.
As of late 2018, more than 43,000 pilots were flying under BasicMed, with hundreds joining the ranks every week.
“We’ve seen an increase in the pilot population,” says Richard McSpadden, executive director of AOPA Air Safety Institute. “It’s reversing the decline and the pilot population is starting to grow.
Still Having Problems Getting Insurance?
If you are still facing problems getting insurance, the best thing to do is find an insurance agent you trust and let them do the work to find you the best policy, Harden says.
“Every day we get contacted by potential clients who are just trying to figure out how to get their insurance coverage, and we’re here to help them and give them advice,” Bowman adds. “If necessary, we are their advocate. Underwriters tend to look at every risk on a case by case basis and a big part of that process is making sure that the underwriter has the full story, the full picture of the client, and that’s the role we play.”