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EAA Insurance Solutions: Taildraggers vs. Nosedraggers

By Bob Mackey, Senior Vice President, EAA Insurance Solutions Administered by Falcon Insurance Agency, Inc.

November 26,2014 - There are many factors that impact the cost of aircraft insurance: type of aircraft, its insured value, amount of liability insurance, airport, and pilot. Certainly there may be other factors, but let’s stay with these and focus in particular on aircraft and specifically tail wheel vs. tricycle gear: taildraggers and nosedraggers.

Take two pilots with identical qualifications flying to identical airports. One owns a taildragger and the other owns a nosedragger. The insurance for the taildragger will cost as much as 50 percent or more than for the nosedragger. I have owned both kinds of airplanes and enjoyed them both. But there were days I left my taildragger in the hangar because I wasn’t comfortable with the crosswind.

For example, insurance costs for a Cessna 182 (nosewheel) would be $820 vs. $1,230 for a 180 (tailwheel), for a private pilot with 1,000 hours – 100 in type, and $70,000 of plane coverage/$1 million liability per occurrence/$100,000 per passenger.

Why the $410 difference?  Here are some comments from a few underwriters I consulted.

“When there is a loss, the dollar amount of damage to a taildragger is usually higher than an airplane with a nosewheel, which means it costs more when a taildragger has an accident.”

“Aircraft with a tailwheel are more likely to have a ground handling accident or an accident during takeoff or landing, and tailwheel aircraft are probably going to be flown off of unpaved runways more often than the aircraft with a nosewheel.”  

No doubt there are more opinions as to why the cost of aircraft insurance is higher for a taildragger vs. nosedragger. So, what can taildragger owners do to reduce the cost of their aircraft insurance?

Concentrate on keeping you pilot skills sharp. Go out and do some pattern work on a breezy day. I am not suggesting you should go out and do touch-and-goes when there is a 90 degree, 30-knot crosswind. Pick a day you are comfortable with and don’t exceed your pilot skills. (Don’t be stupid!)

Make sure you are flying enough hours to stay sharp. Make it a point to fly between five and 10 hours every month and make sure you get at least two or three hours in the pattern doing touch-and-goes.

Make sure you are working with an insurance broker who is an aviation insurance professional!

Taildraggers or nosedraggers are both great! Whichever you fly, stay proficient, know your airplane, and know your personal limits. I may not be able to change the reasons you might pay more for aircraft insurance on your taildragger, but together we can sure try to get you the right insurance at the best price!

As an EAA member you have exclusive access to a great resource with EAA Insurance Solutions. Call 866-647-4322 and talk directly to an aviation insurance professional or if you are looking for a free no-obligation quote for aircraft insurance visit www.eaa.org/insurance.

Bob Mackey is senior vice president with Falcon Insurance Agency, the official administrators of EAA Insurance Solutions. If you have any comments about this article or if would like to see a specific aviation insurance topic addressed in a future article, send him an e-mail.

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