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NAFI Insurance Check-Outs

How NAFI’s Insurance plan protects your certificate

By Bob Mackey

I remember a flight instructor I had when I was in college. He could tell some of the most fantastic stories. I always assumed they were fairy tales that he dreamed up while waiting for students to show for their lessons. It wasn’t until many years later I discovered to my total amazement that most all of the stories were real life experiences. Looking back all I can think now is just how lucky this senior flight instructor was to dodge the pilot certificate actions we all too often hear about today. I heard this one just the other day.

On a particularly nice summer day, an airport neighbor was out on a lake enjoying the warmth of a calm summer day and all of the sudden an airplane passes overhead at what appeared to be an unusually low altitude. How low was the airplaneè According to the report filed with the local sheriff and the FAA, the airplane was just high enough to clear the shoreline willow trees—maybe 75 to 100 feet. Legalè Absolutely not. And since the witness lived next to the airport, he was absolutely certain he recognized the airplane.

Act Two. You (a NAFI Member and who’s insured in the NAFI Flight Instructors Professional Liability Insurance Plan) receive a letter from the FAA stating that a complaint has been filed, which indicates you were flying your airplane over a nearby lake on the fateful day and that the FAA is conducting an investigation into an alleged violation of flying below the FAA legal altitude over a lake with boats and surrounding residential area. The FAA wants your side to the story.

You are absolutely at a loss for words. Your heart sinks and you wonder what the heck is going on. You wonder how this could happen. You know it wasn’t you. In fact you were 500 miles away visiting friends and family. Your first inclination is to call the FAA or maybe even write a response and fire it off. The anger is rising up inside of you. You try to figure out who’s got it in for you.

Since you are insured in the NAFI Plan, which you are lucky you are, your solution doesn’t dawn on you immediately, but somehow you remember in the materials you got with your policy. Wasn’t there something someplace about coverage for legal expenses related to a pilot certificate actionè Get out your policy!

Sure enough, under the “Defense, Settlement and Supplementary Payments” section, paragraph 3:

3. Should a pilot certificate enforcement action or civil penalty action be initiated or instituted by the Federal Aviation Administration or by any other governmental authority against the Named Insured arising out of non-owned aircraft, the company shall, subject to a maximum amount of $5,000, reimburse the Named Insured for the cost of legal defense to such action, provided however that the Company shall have no obligation to:

(a) reimburse the Named Insured for the cost of a legal defense to such action unless it has been notified and authorized payment;

(b) arrange for or furnish the Named Insured with a defense of such action; or

(c) pay or reimburse any penalties of fines imposed or agreed as a result of such action.

Okay, so what does all this mean to youè Well, to start with it means you can contact the insurance company, tell them what’s going on, and with their approval you can hire an attorney knowledgeable about pilot enforcement actions. The attorney will respond on your behalf, even if it is just to prove you weren’t within 500 miles of the alleged illegal flying area. Makes you extremely happy you decided to buy the professional liability insurance, doesn’t itè

If you’re not insured in the NAFI Plan, check it out. NAFI, EAA, and Falcon Insurance Agency have worked very hard to provide a member benefit exclusively for NAFI Members that cannot be duplicated anywhere else. So what are you waiting forè Return to NAFI’s home page at www.nafinet.org or call 866/243-NAFI. For as little as $1.50 a day you can buy the best flight instructor professional liability insurance available.

NAFI Insurance Check-Outs is a special NAFI Member benefit. If you’ve got topic or question you would like to see addressed in NAFI Insurance Check-Outs, please send it to [email protected]