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The 'ABCs' of Non-Owners (Renters) Aircraft Insurance

By Bob Mackey, representative for the EAA Aircraft Insurance Plan, Administered by Falcon Insurance Agency

February 4, 2010 - On a cold, severe clear New England day, a young pilot/college student who was home for the holidays decided to go flying. Off he went to the flight school where he earned his Private Pilot Certificate the previous summer and rented an airplane. The trusty Cessna 150 had the usual high-time airframe and engine, as well as numerous scars from other students whose flight learning curves included many hard landings and hard braking.

He completed a thorough pre-flight inspection; then performed the pre-start check-list. Upon cranking the engine, he watched as the propeller blades turned slowly, but the engine would not start. The pilot added additional gas with the primer and continued to crank the engine, over and over again. More primer, more throttle, when all of a sudden, BANG! The engine back-fired and almost immediately smoke was visible. He sprang out of the cockpit and attempted to douse whatever was burning with handfuls of snow until a lineman appeared with a fire extinguisher to finish the job.

The result: the airplane engine was damaged and required a complete rebuild ($10,000), for which the flight school’s insurer paid. The insurance company, however, sent a letter to the young pilot advising him that since his actions caused the damage, they would be pursuing recovery for their incurred cost (called “subrogation”). The student didn’t have any insurance (or much money for that matter) but that did not deter the insurance company. Too bad the student did not have Non-Owners (Renters) Insurance.

Airplane ownership just isn’t in the cards for everyone. Some folks choose to rent airplanes from a local flight school and/or rental operator while others luckily know someone who will let them fly theirs. Regardless of whose airplane you fly, rental or loaner, if you are using an airplane you don’t own there’s a good chance you are not protected by any insurance. Further, even if the airplane you are flying is owned by your “best friend,” that may be irrelevant in the event of an accident. More likely than not, someone is going to look to you for some if not all of the related costs when legal issues arise regarding injuries, property damage, and damage to the airplane.

Even if you don’t have insurance and your personal balance sheet isn’t that great, you are not immune from being a target for recovery for damages and possibly litigation. There is only one way you can be sure you are properly protected whenever you fly an airplane you don’t own: Have your own renters/non-owned aircraft insurance coverage. The EAA Non-Owners (Renters) Aircraft Insurance Plan is designed not only for casual renters who strictly fly Standard Category or Primary Category aircraft, but it also applies to EAA members who fly experimental amateur-built, special light sport and experimental light sport aircraft.

If you are flying an airplane you don’t own, here are the “ABCs” of why you should be insured in the EAA Non-Owners (Renters) Aircraft Insurance Plan:

  • When you’re flying an airplane you don’t own, you likely do not have liability insurance protection. In addition, you are equally unlikely to have insurance for any damage you may cause to the non-owned airplane. Some flight schools or rental operations may tell you that they have insurance for renters, which may very well be true, but just how much insurance is that and what are the terms and conditions of that insurance? If the renters insurance carried by a flight school or rental operation doesn’t cost you anything, that might be just how much it will pay!
  • Even if you decide not to purchase renters insurance, and your personal net worth is not substantial, that doesn’t mean you are immune from someone or some insurance company coming after you for damages. The fact is we live in a litigious society and everyone is fair game after an accident occurs.
  • If you are a student pilot receiving your training from a local flight school you can be held responsible for any damages you cause, including damages to the airplane and loss of use (income) incurred by the flight school while the airplane is down for repairs. EAA’s plan is one of the few around that covers loss of income that may be incurred by the flight school.

What should you do if you are flying an airplane you don’t own?

  • Visit the EAA Aircraft Insurance Plan website and get the details about the EAA Non-Owners (Renters) Aircraft Insurance Plan.
  • Print out and complete the EAA Non-Owners (Renters) Aircraft Insurance Plan Application, then mail it in along with your insurance premium payment.

It’s that simple!

Regardless of whether you rent, borrow, or own your own airplane, the EAA Aircraft Insurance Plan and the EAA Non-Owners (Renters) Aircraft Insurance Plan are designed for the flying EAA members do. Every day EAA members save money on their aircraft insurance with the EAA Plan. At the same time when EAA members insure their airplanes or buy their non-owners (renters) insurance in the EAA Plan they are helping to support EAA Youth Education programs, EAA Young Eagles, and EAA Safety programs. What are you waiting for? Log on or call today! 

If you would like to know more about EAA Insurance Solutions, or find the right insurance for the type of flying you do, call 866-647-4EAA (4322), or complete an online quote request form. When you insure your airplane through EAA Insurance Solutions you’re helping support EAA member programs for safety, advocacy and youth education.

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