Pilot Life Insurance- complete guide you need to read!

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Can a pilot get life insurance?

Yes, a pilot can get life insurance. Depending on the type of flying the pilot undertakes (private, commercial, fixed wing, military etc), the premiums may be higher depending on the perceived risk of the flying activities. The number of hours and location of flying will also contribute to the premium cost and risk profile.

What is airline pilot life insurance?

Going through my early 20’s after university struggling to afford pilot training and saving up for months to pay for the odd hour’s flying here and there, I gave pilot life insurance and indeed student pilot life insurance ZERO consideration. I didn’t care, and to be honest, dying or getting seriously ill was the last thing on my mind!

The big wake up call came for me years later when I purchased my first house. I suddenly needed life insurance in case I died or became so sick that I was unable to work (critical illness cover); I didn’t want my family saddled with the mortgage debt. Life insurance pays out if the worst were to happen or you become critically ill provided all the terms set out by the insurer are satisfied.

Pilot life insurance can be arranged to provide a lump-sum payment or monthly amounts depending on circumstances. I remember going through the life insurance questions with my mortgage broker expecting a comfortable ride – I was young and healthy after all.

So far as I understood, being young and healthy is a good thing in the world of life insurance – it should be cheap and readily available.

WRONG! All my life insurance quote requests were refused. My mortgage broker probed and because I had declared I had a Private Pilot Licence and flew recreationally (10hours per year), majority of the insurers flat refused to provide cover.

The only way I could find life insurance to cover on my mortgage through the usual high street channels was to accept an exclusion that if anything happened to me as a result of my private pilot activities, I would not be covered.

In this post, I’ll share some of the issues and learnings I found along the way to get pilot life insurance for both student pilot life insurance and subsequently airline pilot life insurance once in employment. Pilot life insurance is not a well-discussed topic, particularly amongst us millennials! So I thought I would share some light on the topic to help you if you are researching or not sure what to do.

DISCLAIMER: I AM NOT A FINANCIAL ADVISER, SO SEEK PROFESSIONAL ADVICE BEFORE TAKING OUT ANY PRODUCTS OR MAKING LIFE DECISIONS. 

Why get airline pilot life insurance?

The simple answer is that pilot life insurance provides financial cover if unfortunately you became seriously ill or were killed (provided all the various terms set out by the insurer had been met). The trap I found was that a lot of the generic high street life insurance policies in the UK had exclusions for recreational flying. If one wanted student pilot life insurance, you had to have a specialist product.

In my specific case, I trained via the modular route, progressing my pilot training during evenings and weekends in my own time. A fair amount of my pilot training would have been considered recreational, particularly during hour building. I think a gap exists in that area, so make sure you are covered to suit your circumstances.

When should I get pilot life insurance?

My opinion would be to get pilot life insurance as soon as you start flying (but seek professional advice). Hour building was probably one of the most significant ‘financial risk’ areas from me during training in case of a flying accident.

For those currently on the modular path to flight training, especially those who may have large financial commitments (mortgage, car loans etc.), please do some research with a professional.

The larger integrated schools that sell pilot training products financed through a secured lending facility (i.e. mum and dads house) typically bring into the conversation student pilot insurance (loss of medical) & student pilot life insurance, but it does not always happen. Do some research and find a private pilot life insurance or student pilot life insurance product suitable for your circumstances.

Where do I get life pilot life insurance/ student pilot life insurance?

In my case, through the British Airline Pilots Associate (BALPA), I was put in touch with Flight Crew Risk Solutions for my airline pilot life insurance once employed. I found them to be excellent. There are other providers around, so do your research and speak with your financial advisor. 

Although not directly ‘life insurance’, the one area that I did struggle with (and I still don’t know what the answer is – please leave a message in the comments section if you do) is student pilot insurance for those on a self-funded modular path.

What happens if towards the end of training and having committed close to £60k in pilot training, I lost my class 1 medical and could no longer fly professionally? Or worse, during a self-funded type rating course with your future employer, lose your medical?

Most student pilot insurance products sold around ‘Student pilot life insurance’ is usually capped (for loss of medical monthly and lump sum) at the value of the total contractual fees committed.

The problem as a modular student pilot like myself is that you may do your PPL with organisation A, then pause. After some time, you start hour building with a club recreationally. You may then decide to do your night rating or ATPLs exams with a different organisation etc.

This DIY pilot training route makes it difficult to sign up to a student pilot insurance product that is worthwhile as one would never really be in a position to prove the various contractual amounts should the worst have happened. I would struggle to find all my fuel receipts from hour building, for example! 

The issue I found was that student pilot insurance worked well if on an integrated course with a fixed price but maybe not so well with modular pilot training. Please share your thoughts in the comments section if you have had any experience as I am sure your findings could help others.

What questions will be asked for pilot life insurance by the pilot life insurance company?

The pilot life insurance company would be keen to know items such as:

  • Which airline do you fly for?
  • How long you have been flying for?
  • The number of hours you fly a year?
  • Type of flying you do – airline, survey, instructing etc?
  • Existing health issues?
  • The level of cover you will be seeking (lump sum/ monthly payments)?

Once I started flying professionally in employment, finding airline pilot life insurance cover was relatively straight forward and not as expensive compared to recreational flying as I guess insurers saw me as less risky. My regular high street life insurance product (that had issues with recreational flying) was ok with me flying professionally as an example.

Whilst looking at pilot life insurance for myself, I also found it an excellent time to explore critical illness cover, income protection and loss of class 1 medical insurance which I will cover in a separate post.

My circumstance meant I took critical illness cover and protection against the loss of my class 1 medical. In hindsight, I should have considered income protection back then too.

With the uncertain times due to COVID, a lot of insurers have unfortunately removed income protection products. Still, it is worth strongly considering in the next upcycle or once our beloved society normalises and more income protection products return to the market.

Check out my best selling Pilot Training Guide on Amazon for how to save money and time during pilot training!

Listen to the Pilot Training Guide FREE with Audible here

See it on Amazon

Related questions

How much does pilot insurance cost?

Pilot insurance depends on the type of aircraft, flying and experience of the pilots along with many other factors.

For private pilot, low use, with low value hull it pilot insurance would cost circa £1,500 for a year. In contract, a flying school looking for comprehensive cover for full aircraft replacement would be around £4,000 per year.

Do pilots have a future?

Although COVID 19 has torn apart the aviation industry, it looks like there are pockets of pilot shortages starting to show up. Over Easter weekend in 2021, the news that certain US airlines had to cancel flights due to crew shortages was well publicised.

The human population will always want to travel and with the world population growing each year, there is and will continue to be an increasing demand for air travel. As other developing countries grow their middle class who can afford to fly, that further will drive demand for pilots.

The other threat facing pilots is being phased out by automation. I believe we are still a long way (from a certification standpoint) and the general public being comfortable flying an aircraft without a pilot.

With all these factors put together, there will continue to be strong demand for pilots (once we get over COVID 19!)

What are the risks of being a pilot?

  • Health problems: The unfriendly hours can take a toll on the body
  • Ionising radiation: More still needs to be learnt about the risks of sitting at 40,000feet for 8-12 hours a day
  • Jet lag: The stress on the body, particularly for long haul pilots, can take its toll when jumping from one time zone to the other
  • Job stress: Being a pilot involves very intense periods of concentration, with the ultimate responsibility of a safe flight falling on the captain. This, coupled with 6 monthly checks and regular medical examination, means that pilots are always literally 6 months away from losing their job if they fail a given exam. This can cause a lot of stress.
  • Noise/ hearing loss: The constant chatter on the radios and the engines’ drone, particularly in older aircraft, can cause noise-induced hearing loss.
  • Chronic fatigue: The punishing schedules and unsocial hours and stress (including job security-related stress) can lead to pilots suffering from chronic fatigue.
  • Mental health
  • Obesity: Constantly being away from home and the unsocial working hours can make it challenging to eat well and have healthy food and exercise habits. It does not help that being a pilot mainly costs sitting in a confined space for hours.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on any experiences you have had with pilot life insurance/ loss of licence insurance. Please leave a comment in the section below, and I will reply as soon as I can!

Sunset from FL400

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