Do I need aviation insurance?
Aircraft insurance is mandatory for both private planes and commercial aircraft flying in EU airspace.
There are certain levels of aircraft insurance that you are required to have based on the weight of your plane.
For example, a plane that weighs 500kg - 999kg will require an approximate minimum of £1.3m third party insurance and passenger insurance of around £220,000. You’ll also need a baggage minimum of just over £8,000. Planes of different weights will have different requirements.
If you fly to a country outside of the EU, the insurance cover you need may vary. It’s best to check before you fly if you’re planning to leave Europe.
Don't forget, you may want to consider travel insurance for yourself as well. You'll need to make sure the company you choose does not exclude flying a plane. Read our guide to the best travel insurance companies here.
You can find more information about insurance requirements on the Civil Aviation Authority’s website.
What does aircraft insurance cover?
Aircraft insurance can cover you for the range of things that could go wrong both while you are flying and while your plane is grounded. Policies may include:
- Hull loss not in motion, which covers things like fire, theft, weather damage and vandalism
- Hull loss while taxiing, which doesn’t usually cover take-off or landing
- Hull loss in flight, which usually covers aircraft during ground operation, while parked or stored, and while in flight
- Passenger liability, which may pay out if your passengers are injured because of something that happens while you are piloting
- Environmental damage liability, which should cover any damage you do to the natural environment
- Public liability, which can cover any damage you do to other people’s property
- Terrorism and war insurance (check out our guide to travel cover in dangerous areas here)
Aircraft insurance companies may also offer:
- Combined Single Limit (CSL), which is a combined insurance policy for public and passenger liability. This usually has a single overall limit per incident
Insurance while your aircraft is grounded
You do not need insurance for an aircraft that is not being flown. However, if it is damaged while it's grounded and you don't have any cover you'll have to cover the costs.
Aircraft must be insured to the minimum levels before flights are undertaken and if you're applying to register an aircraft you will have to declare that it will not fly until there is evidence of valid insurance.
How much does aircraft insurance cost?
The price of aircraft insurance in the UK will vary depending on a number of factors but it is likely to cost a few hundred pounds, or thousands if you own a larger plane.
The cost of cover will be influenced by:
- The type and model of plane
- The price of the plane
- The size of the engine
- How many hours you fly, usually calculated per year
- Where you keep your plane (in a hanger or outside)
- What you use your plane for (private or commercial use)
- Your age and experience
- Whether you have had an accident or made a claim in the past
It's best to shop around to get quotes from various providers.
Companies that offer aviation insurance
There are a few companies that offer aircraft insurance. A good place to start is Lloyd’s of London, where you can search the company's directory for insurance.
You can also head to companies directly to find aviation insurance.
We looked for quotes both direct and through a broker for a Piper PA-38 Tomahawk, a single engine piston aeroplane that can be bought for around £15,000. This is a 1978 model. All our quotes assumed the pilot had 100 hours of flying experience, a private licence, and at least 25 hours of experience flying the Tomahawk.
Most insurance companies will require you to contact them directly either before they can give you a quote.
However, Visicover allows you to get a quote online without having to contact the company. Visicover quoted us £803.50.
This policy offered cover while on the ground, while taxiing and while in flight, with hull cover for £15,000, combined single limit third party and passenger liability cover of £2,000,000, and an excess of £500.
While Visicover allows you to control your excess up to £1,500, there is not a no-excess option – the lowest you can pay is £250.
Our quote for aviation insurance through the broker Alan Thomas was £896.20. The company gave us a quote provided by the insurer Global Aerospace. This policy offered cover while on the ground, taxiing and in flight, with hull cover for £15,000, combined single limit third party and passenger liability cover of £2,000,000, and an excess of £500.
Alan Thomas has an online quote form that sends an email to one of their team. The team member will then get back to you with a quote from an insurer he or she recommends, depending on your requirements.
Whichever company you decide to go for, and whatever policy limits you opt for, remember that you have to have aviation insurance in the UK if you want to fly in EU airspace.
Impact on other forms of insurance
If you are a pilot or hobby aviator, you may find flying also affects other forms of insurance.
For example, life and critical illness insurance for aviators may be more expensive because insurers view it as a risky activity.
We've written a guide to the best life insurance to help you decide on policies.
2017 Financial Conduct Authority investigation into aviation brokers
In April 2017, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) launched an investigation into the aviation broking section. According to several media outlets, it launched a series of raids on Aon, Jardine Lloyd Thompson, Marsh, and Willis Towers Watson.
According to the Financial Times, the FCA declined to comment on the investigation. However, Marsh said in a statement that the FCA was investigating the sharing of competitively sensitive information within the aviation (re)insurance sector. Jardine Lloyd Thompson has also confirmed that it is participating in the investigation, and Aon said it was 'working diligently' with the FCA.
The raid was first reported in Insurance Insider.