Policy Language Trumps Everything
Every now and again, situations arise that may warrant a favor or a “one-time thing” from a friend or vendor. Often, as an act of good faith or to show a certain level of loyalty, operators oblige one-off requests, hoping to further entrench themselves with those they do business with or endear themselves to friends/family. That’s all fine and dandy when the task in question falls within the parameters of the policy. However, we’re starting to see an alarming trend of operators and/or pilots agreeing to certain missions and to considerations that fall outside the scope of the policy language.
This can be such a dangerous line to walk — wanting to do a favor for someone but jeopardizing your coverage in the process. It’s noble and understandable that you want to make another person happy or oblige a vendor. At the same time, it’s not worth the added risk you bring on yourself in the process.
Example: An operator completes a site survey flight for a huge real estate investor. Upon landing, the real estate investor asks if he can be flown back to the airport to catch his flight. He’ll even pay you $100 to do so. Favor: Dropping him off. Issue: Technically, this is a charter flight, which may not be covered.
Example 2: Returning an aircraft off lease and telling the owner you’ll keep the coverage in place over the weekend as a courtesy. Favor: extending your coverage despite the lack of a need. Issue: Once you relinquish care/custody/control, you no longer have any insurable interest in the aircraft. Therefore, your policy does not apply, despite your assurance to the lessor that you’ll keep the coverage in place for a few extra days.
Please heed this advice: unless you’re 100% certain the request falls within the scope of your policy, do not agree to it up front. Regardless of what you may tell someone else, insurability will always fall to the policy language. If you’re worried it may jeopardize relations with the requesting party, just blame the delay on your insurance carrier. It wouldn’t be the first time a carrier was blamed for something! Not to mention, a true friend or valuable business associate would understand and appreciate the due diligence.