November 18, 2021

AOPA survey finds older pilots experience negative treatment from insurance companies

Jon Robinson

The Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association recently conducted a survey of pilots and aircraft owners across the United States, confirming what the association has been hearing from many members for several years: Pilots above 70 years of age, who are just as safe, current, and proficient as any others, continue to find their insurance policies unceremoniously dropped or canceled, or much more expensive.

COPA Members can view COPA Flight’s August 2021 issue for an article by Steve Godfrey, who outlines this issue in Canada with solutions for those over 70 years of age.

The AOPA survey was sent to more than 30,000 pilots and aircraft owners. Findings from the survey include:

• Pilots older than 70 have flown an average of nearly 70 hours in the past year (compared to a recent survey of AOPA members that found more than half of pilots were flying less than 50 hours);
• Respondents who are 70 or older were no more likely to have been involved in an accident in the past five years than younger pilots;
• More than 75 per cent of the surveyed pilots over 70 have an instrument rating, compared to 66 per cent under 70; and
• More than 50 per cent of the surveyed pilots over 70 have an airline transport pilot or commercial certificate, compared to 40 percent under 70.

AOPA notes, that while insurance premiums have continued to rise and older pilots are finding it more challenging to stay covered or get a policy, the general aviation industry in the United States just experienced its safest year ever, marking a 29-per cent year-over-year improvement in the accident rate.

Medical incapacitation continues to be among the rarest of accident causes, explains AOPA, with older pilots being engaged and actively working to stay proficient – those age 55 and older comprise more than 40 per cent of the total viewership of AOPA Air Safety Institute YouTube safety videos.

“We have looked at this issue from many sides, including a review of accident and incident data, and for some reason, carriers are not renewing policies or are quoting exorbitant premiums, even for pilots with impeccable safety and health records,” said AOPA President Mark Baker. “These decisions are being made solely based on some arbitrary age, which doesn’t make sense.”

(Photo: Adobestock)