By: Victoria Neuville
Countless hours were spent on lesson plans, months of studying the ins and outs of every aviation subject, and many flights getting used to commercial maneuvers from the right seat in the aircraft. All the time and energy spent culminated with a day-long check ride and I was branded a certified flight instructor (CFI). I had accomplished a huge milestone for any pilot, and I thought the hard part was over. It wasn’t. I then realized the large responsibility I now bore to properly mentor safe pilots and maintain my proficiency going forward.
One of the most nerve-wrecking moments for a CFI is sending their student out on their first solo around the pattern or a solo cross country. I know I will be holding my breath until they are safely back on the ground! By endorsing a student’s logbook for solo, the CFI is stating that the student has been properly trained and prepared for such a task. Unfortunately, accidents can happen and that can come back on the flight instructor for negligent instruction.
I have been selling CFI non-owned insurance for over 9 years, and the true importance of this coverage suddenly hit me as I could now personally be affected. This is your defense if you were to become liable for negligent instruction, like in the example above, or for damages incurred to a non-owned aircraft while providing dual instruction. Often, a CFI policy costs less than an hour of a lawyer’s time!
When I began training to become a flight instructor, I immediately became a member of the Society of Aviation and Flight Educators (SAFE). SAFE provides members-only important flight instructor resources, mentoring, and educational programs. Most importantly, they offer the exclusive SAFE CFI Non-Owned Aircraft Liability program in partnership with Aviation Insurance Resources (AIR). I’m excited to announce that I now lead this program at AIR!
The SAFE CFI policy has limits up to $1,000,000 liability and $200,000 for physical damage to the non-owned aircraft. Unlike the competition, the policy also includes coverage for experimental, restricted category aircraft, light sport aircraft, single engine seaplanes, and multi engine land aircraft. As a SAFE member you’ll receive an instant 5% discount. If you have had no claims, you can reduce your premium by an additional 5%. Master instructors can receive a 10% discount and if you have achieved a level of FAA Wings within the past year another 5% can be taken off. That’s a potential of 20% in savings!
My first plan of action as a newly-minted CFI is to remain flying from the right seat and treat every flight (with friends, pilots or otherwise) as a learning experience. Before I take on my first official CFI role, my first plan of action is to hop on to the simple SAFE CFI policy portal and start my own policy. If you have any questions regarding the SAFE CFI program, call 301-682-6200 to speak with me or any of our knowledgeable pilots and agents!