Pilot Training

Your Frequent (and Friendly) Reminder: Pilot Training

In this market, now more than ever, training and pilot requirements are taking center stage. This is because of their dire importance when it comes to not only avoiding coverage issues but also preventing additional accidents.

I can’t tell you how many times we’ve caught subtle references to additional exposures we weren’t initially made aware of that would’ve otherwise jeopardized coverage. Among the most common sources of revealing these exposures is social media. A company’s Facebook page or LinkedIn page will be the first to tell when a new service is available or a new pilot is hired. Often it’s the insurance carrier that’s one of the last to know, which creates a gaping hole in the coverage if not immediately remedied. 

Just recently, I caught the headline “Now offering charter flights!” for a tour company on the East Coast. Up to that point, the company was only covered for tours, making any coverage for charter flights null and void.

A subset of this is when new pilots are hired, which is far more common. Pilots come and go far more often than operators add or drop services, which means it’s much easier for new hires to get lost in the fray of day-to-day business, HR, and FAA dealings. In some cases, by the time the pilot is passed along to us for review, they’ve already been flying. This instantly creates a massive exposure because if that pilot isn’t approved for one reason or another, every flight (and by extension, every passenger) is without insurance.

Secondly, but not mutually exclusive of that, there is the matter of that pilot’s training. Just because he came from another operator and was flying the same type of aircraft does not mean he’s already approved on your policy. Training requirements vary greatly from one policy to the next. Special training exceptions are made daily, which can even be as specific as having named pilots train differently than those flying under the OPW!

Regardless of how liberal or unique your training and hiring requirements may be, it is imperative that each and every pilot be approved by the insurance carrier. This involves a review of their merit as well as their training. A shortcoming in either category may void coverage, and if said pilot has a loss, it may put an operator out of business. We’ve seen it happen, so this isn’t just a hypothetical. With the rash of aviation accidents in the past year, underwriters are only going to get more rigid and less accommodating, so never assume pilot acceptance until you have it in writing from your agent!