January 12, 2017 - Finally! Medical reform for pilots is going to happen and being able to obtain aircraft insurance will not be a problem.
As a result of the new final rule published by FAA and dubbed BasicMed, if you are a pilot and you held a valid FAA Medical in the 10 years preceding July 15, 2016, you may not be required to obtain another FAA Medical. Needless to say, this is great news that we have all been waiting a long time to see.
What could go wrong? There are other stakeholders in the community of personal aviation, including insurance companies, who provide legal and financial protection from certain risks for pilots whether they are flying an aircraft they own or do not own. How will insurance companies respond to BasicMed?
Insurance companies within the aviation communities have always established their own standards when it comes to pilots and medicals. As an example, prior to BasicMed, some insurance companies required annual medicals for senior pilots flying certain aircraft (e.g., high performance, 6-place aircraft). In other situations, insurance companies have stipulated that pilots with certain medical waivers obtain additional medical tests above and beyond that required by the FAA. These are exceptions and do not come up very often. It is very likely, even with medical reform in those rare situations where the pilot is “older” (an undefined term), and the aircraft is high-performance and/or configured with six or more total seats, the insurance company may require either an annual FAA medical and/or annual FAA medical and an annual flight review or recurrent training.
After the advent of the sport pilot rules, insurance companies needed to examine their insurance policies to determine if their policy language required any changes. What almost all of the insurance companies found was that their policies did not require any modifications. The reason was the policies already stated that the pilot must hold the certificates, ratings, and medical required for the aircraft being flown (i.e., if the aircraft was sport pilot eligible the insurance policy did not require any alterations).
The aviation insurance professionals at EAA Insurance Solutions administered by Falcon Insurance Agency, Inc., contacted all of the insurance companies who underwrite aircraft insurance through the independent insurance agency and brokerage community and we found 100 percent of these insurance companies support the new FAA medical reform and they also did not anticipate any change in their underwriting approach to pilots flying owned or non-owned aircraft that will no longer require an FAA medical. That having been said, we recommend that pilots check with their agent to make sure their insurance coverage will not be affected if they choose to fly under the new BasicMed.
If you have any other questions on how the FAA BasicMed program will impact aircraft insurance, you may contact EAA Insurance Solutions administered by Falcon Insurance Agency, Inc. One of our aviation insurance professional will be more than happy to help you. You may reach us at www.EAA.org/insurance or call us at 866-647-4322 (4EAA). Whatever you do, make sure your aircraft insurance fits. With EAA Insurance Solutions you will find the right insurance at the best price!
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.