70 is the New 50? Not For Insurance

The sign of a successful talk—members of the audience crowd around Sky Smith with questions afterwards.

As I creep distressingly close to 70 years old, it truly seems like 70 is the new 50. I certainly don’t act or do things like the previous generations at the same age. One-hundred miles in a day bike ride? No problem! Flying solo across the country in a speedy little homebuilt? No hesitation (if the weather cooperates). Crawl around on the floor to clean the belly of an airplane? Of course, why not? Yet, Scott “Sky” Smith told us today in his seminar, Age and Aviation Insurance, that 69 is a critical year to ensure you are set up well for aviation insurance—for the rest of your flying career.

Smith told us that we can expect some or all of the following changes in insurance requirements when we turn 70:

  1. Bump up in premium costs.
  2. Inability to get new quotes.
  3. Requirement for a 3rd class (or higher) medical every year.
  4. Flight review every year.
  5. Dual-only flying. With some companies, the dual means with a qualified CFI.

And, while you might escape some of these burdens at 70, the chances are that they will catch up with you by the time you reach 75. But, there is hope. The biggest problems are  with complex airplanes and pilots who only fly 20 or 30 hours a year. So, some of Smith’s advice is:

  1. Fly at least 50 hours a year, 200-300 hours is better.
  2. Work with your broker to settle in with one of the companies who will not drop customers over 70 for no cause. (He called out AIG and Global.)
  3. Move to a simple airplane. Avoid tailwheels, more than 200hp, more than 4 seats, and retracts. Best to stay with popular, certified airplanes due to the greater availability of  repair parts. Van’s Airplanes (RVs) are an exception due to their popularity.
  4. In the homebuilt, avoid using an engine that is not approved by the kit manufacturer.
  5. NEVER let your insurance lapse!

The requirements are dynamic so it seems prudent to work closely with your trusted broker, point out that you need to consider future needs as well as the next year, and keep flying plenty of hours each year.


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