How Much is your Airplane Worth? Are you sure?

If you haven’t reviewed your insurance policy for a while, it may be a good time to refamiliarize yourself with it.

Piston aircraft prices have been trending up. While auto insurance policies typically owe you fair market replacement value (minus deductible) if your vehicle is totaled, aviation insurance policies more commonly have an agreed value that you would receive (again, minus deductible) to seek a replacement aircraft. If that value has not been adjusted lately, it could be significantly under market. 

Additionally, ensuring your policy will pay out enough to buy a similar aircraft is not the only consideration. Folks often own their aircraft for years or even decades and may have made numerous improvements over time. Even a similarly equipped aircraft of the same make and model might require significant investments of time and money to make it “just so.”  It may well be worthwhile to consider paying higher insurance premiums for a higher agreed value that factors in the need for not just a replacement aircraft, but also the additional work that may be needed to tailor it to your liking.

While you’re reviewing your policy, it’s a good opportunity to make sure you understand how the mechanics of the policy work including any obligations it places on you. Most owners are aware of the requirements found in insurance policies for the pilot to comply with FAA regulations (including flight reviews and any applicable medical qualification). Some policies also require additional or type-specific training to satisfy the insurer. Lesser known is that most aviation insurance policies include a requirement for you to notify the insurer of any accident or event causing aircraft damage, even if you do not intend to file a claim. It also pays to review any aircraft recovery provisions. In the event your aircraft sustains damage at a location without maintenance facilities, it’s better to know beforehand who is responsible for possible disassembly and transportation operations rather than being surprised at the same time you are stranded.


Chad Mayer

Legal Services Plan, Attorney
Chad Mayer is an in-house attorney with AOPA’s Legal Services Plan who assists Plan members with a wide variety of aviation-related legal issues. He is also a Commercial Pilot, a Remote Pilot with sUAS Rating, and an Advanced/Instrument Ground Instructor. The AOPA Legal Services plan is offered as part of AOPA’s Pilot Protection Services.

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