By Timothy K. Bonnell Jr
We often get questions from our insureds regarding the Open Pilot Warranty (sometimes referred to as Open Pilot Clause) on their quote or policy. The Open Pilot Warranty (OPW) in your aircraft policy lets you know who is allowed to fly your aircraft in addition to the named pilots. The hours and ratings listed under the Open Pilot Warranty do not reflect any of the named pilots. It simply states, if any pilot who meets or exceeds the following requirements, and is flying the aircraft with your permission, and within the scope of your policy, then you have coverage. That individual pilot may not have coverage, and in many cases should have a non-owned policy to cover his individual liability, but your liability is still protected.
A typical Open Pilot Warranty on a fix geared 180 horse powered aircraft might read:
Any FAA Private Licensed Pilot Having a minimum of 300 Total Logged Time including 10 hours in the insured make and model aircraft.
This basically says that if a pilot has at least a private pilot certificate with 300 hours total logged time, including 10 hours in that particular model of aircraft, (i.e. Cessna 172, PA-28-180) than the insured is covered while that pilot is using the aircraft within the scope of the policy and with the insured’s permission.
The OPW for a complex aircraft may require commercial, and instrument ratings, with a higher number of hours. Multi-Engine aircraft will usually require a multi-engine rating for their OPW, and some aircraft may require a type, and make and model ground and flight school. Many larger aircraft will require make and model school in the last 12 months. As you can see, the OPW will greatly vary for different aircraft. Some policies with various aircraft and situations may have a Named Pilot Only requirement, stating that you are only covered if the pilot is named to your policy.
What if someone who is going to be flying your aircraft does not meet the requirements of the OPW? You will have to submit their pilot information to your company to see if they will qualify to be added as a named pilot. The “Catch-22” of this situation is that the companies do not like to add too many pilots to the policy. Many prefer to keep it at four pilots for an aircraft.
The rule-of-thumb for any aircraft policy is that you usually want to name the pilots who will be flying your aircraft on a regular basis. If it is a very occasional use, than perhaps they would meet the OPW requirements. At the same time, be sure that you are not adding more pilots than your company would feel comfortable with.
A very important point to remember is that even though a pilot may meet the requirements of your OPW, a Pleasure and Business policy does not allow you to make a charge for the use your aircraft. If there is a loss and it is discovered that the pilot was giving some sort of fee or remuneration for using your aircraft, coverage could be denied. If you are ever in doubt, call your agent or broker for verification of what your policy will cover.
To summarize, always make sure that any pilot, who may fly your aircraft is either named to the policy, or meets the requirements of the Open Pilot Warranty. Also, make sure that they are using the aircraft in accordance with your policy’s terms. If they do not, there is a good chance coverage could be denied.
If you have any questions, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I may address them individually or address them in upcoming issues.