Factory Approved School still required for Liability Only?
While discussing liability only insurance on a pressurized aircraft the question was, “All I want to buy is liability insurance for my new aircraft. But the underwriter still requires that I attend a Factory Approved School. What gives?”
Typically, when you own or buy certain aircraft the aviation insurance underwriters require you to have Factory Approved School. Either initial ground and flight or recurrent. This school requirement usually needs to take place within twelve months from the flight. So, if you are looking at a pressurized or cabin class aircraft you will be required to attend Factory Approved School.
Why they still require school?
Just buying liability insurance doesn’t eliminate the insurance companies’ responsibility. Remember that buying insurance of any kind is a part of risk management. Liability in its pure definition is an “unlimited exposure” to the pilot. If the buyer does not feel comfortable in self-insuring the risk (the chance that they may be responsible for hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars in the event of an accident) they need to transfer that risk to someone else (the insurance company). But when you transfer the risk, you also transfer control to the underwriting. The underwriters can require or mandate that the insured participate in training or get additional dual or even fly solo for a certain number of hours.
The majority of the claims are for damage to the aircraft itself (the hull). Many buyers feel that by not buying physical damage (hull) protection for the aircraft hull they can alleviate the training requirements. But that is not true. The insurance company may still be on the hook for paying a claim if you crash or damage the aircraft. While they may not be responsible for damage to your aircraft, they are still responsible for paying claims related to the bodily injury and property damage to third parties. That “liability coverage” is usually a larger payout for the insurance company than the hull coverage (although, not as often). And since the insured is still the pilot, the insurance company still wants them to be qualified and competent in the aircraft.
You wouldn’t want a lawyer or surgeon to work on your behalf and not maintain their currency or training, would you? A pilot should have the same attitude. How many aircraft owners would want to fly in an airline crewed by pilots that only get training once every few years? Professional pilots are usually required to get training on a regular basis (some as often as every six months) and they fly more hours than the average general aviation pilot.
The insurance companies look at the statistics and the numbers on the bottom line, if training helps reduce claims and helps save money in a particular model or style of aircraft, they’ll require it. And there is always the option of not getting the training and being self-insured. Very few states require the owner of an aircraft to buy insurance coverage.