Aviation Law Articles

Pilot Warranty and Aviation Liability
Sometimes Cause Doesn’t Matter

Most aviation liability insurance policies specify that the aircraft will be covered as long as certain named pilots are flying the plane and these pilots meet all F.A.A. requirements. These conditions are usually contained in what is called the “Pilot Warranty” provision.

The insurance companies are very strict when it comes to the issue of whether or not the pilot warranty has been met. Accordingly, if a named pilot was not operating the aircraft when a mishap occurred or he or she was not current (no medical, biennial or other currency requirement), there is a very high possibility that the insurance company will not pay for the injury or damage, despite the fact that the particular pilot or currency had nothing to do with the accident. Furthermore, while there is a split amongst the states, the majority of state courts will uphold the coverage denial under the jurisdictional interpretation that if the pilot warranty provision was not met, it does not matter that this had nothing to do with the cause of the accident.

Therefore, in these states (California being one), it is imperative that only pilots authorized under the insurance policy who are properly certified (current) are operating your aircraft. If not, you could be left “holding the bag” as an aircraft owner/operator, with no liability coverage or legal defense coverage. That could get very expensive, in more ways than one, no matter what the cause.
by Richard T. Miller, Specialist in Aviation Law – (818) 994-8234