Student insurance during helicopter flight training

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I'm starting flight training and want to figure out how to cover myself in case I damage the R-22 I'm training in. The school I'm going to has 2 options:

1/ Liability for the full cost of the deductible or repairs. That would be a $15,000-20,000 gamble that I'm not willing to take;

2/ Pay-in system: contribute $550 per year to a fund that covers the deductible.

The second option would be fine, except that I may have to split my training between schools--meaning that insuring the ~50 hours for my PPL is going to cost me as much as the guy who is doing all 200 hrs at the school, and I'll probably have to contribute another $100-600 for deductible coverage if I go to another school for my commercial thru CFII ratings.

Does anybody have recommendations for obtaining deductible insurance for myself, regardless of where I am training?

-- chris fischer, March 24, 2007


AOPA offers rental aircraft insurance (joining AOPA is free for student pilots). It is kind of expensive and, I think, only covers one type of helicopter at a time (e.g., if you flew both the R44 and R22 you would have to pay double). It would cost more than $550, but cover you for taking passengers and for liability in case you kill someone with the tail rotor.

We have USAIG insurance for our Cirrus that costs about $3400/year and covers the plane (worth $200k+) and us owners/pilots if we crack up a rental aircraft (remarkably not limited to category/class). So if you have fixed-wing experience, you might want to join a partnership with someone on the field who has an old C172 and USAIG as a carrier.

Not too many students crack up ships during their 10 hours of solo. And if the instructor is on board, anything bad that happens is his fault (he is PIC). So realistically you are talking about only 10 hours of risk and it will all be good VFR daylight conditions at airports. Mathematically, unless losing $20,000 is going to ruin your life, you are better off without insurance. The true risk of an R22 accident is closer to $10/hour, not the $55/hour that you'd be paying this school.

-- Philip Greenspun, March 24, 2007

Thanks Philip, I checked with some other heli students who went thru AOPA--apparently you have to call them to get their quotes for rotorcraft. They do only cover a single type, and annual insurance will run about $1000. Your site has been a lot of help. --c

-- chris fischer, March 25, 2007