Policy Language over Everything
Every now and again, situations arise in aviation 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 to endear themselves to friends or 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 considerations that fall outside the scope of the policy language.
This is quite a precarious line to walk — wanting to do a favor for someone but jeopardizing your own 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, we feel it’s important to stress that it’s almost always not worth the added risk you bring upon yourself in the process.
Example 1: An operator completes a site-surveying flight for a 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. You would be doing him a favor by dropping him off, but the potential issue is that this could be perceived as a charter flight, which you may not have coverage for.
Example 2: You return an aircraft off lease and tell the owner you’ll keep the coverage in place over the weekend as a courtesy. You’re doing the owner a favor by extending your coverage despite not having an insurable interest. The issue is that once you relinquish care/custody/control of the aircraft, you no longer have any insurable interest in the aircraft. Therefore, your policy may not apply despite you telling the lessor you’ll keep your 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! Furthermore, a true friend or business associate would understand and appreciate the due diligence.