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View Full Version : CFI Insurance & Liability

11-19-2014, 08:45 AM
Little bit about me: I am in my late 20s and fly as a first officer for a regional airline. When I was teaching as a CFI I did so for about 6 months and got about 350 dual given under my belt then. (I was CFI'ing at a flight instruction school and I never considered picking up my own insurance then..)

Recently I've been approached by a local aircraft owner asking if I wanted to use his aircraft (172) to teach a friend of his, a student at a local high school. I've agreed to do it as a volunteer activity but I'm concerned about the legal liability of CFI'ing part 61.

Any recommendations on how I should go about protecting myself and my student from legal action should something arise? Renters Insurance? Flight Instructing Insurance? Release from Liability Form?

Thanks. Anything is helpful.


11-19-2014, 09:18 AM
You definitely need to be insured, both as an instructor and PIC. Call AOPA or NAFI and talk to them about liability insurance. There won't be much of a difference between the two, but both offer good insurance for CFI's. Don't teach without it.

Hawker Driver
11-19-2014, 10:11 AM
The problem is the cost of that insurance & justifying it for teaching just one student. BTW, I've signed those "release of all liability" forms when I've chosen dangerous activities I don't know how valid they are when somthing goes wrong tho... Might be worth finding out in your state. Of course, the waiver form won't help you anyway if the accident involves more parties.

11-19-2014, 10:19 AM
I've signed those "release of all liability" forms when I've chosen dangerous activities I don't know how valid they are when somthing goes wrong tho... Might be worth finding out in your state.

Knowing if a "Release from All Liability" form actually protects you would be kind of important before turning the ignition key next time.

To find out if this is something that would protect me in my state. Ring up Lawyer Joe down the street? Just a hunch but I'll bet Joe doesn't know the first thing about Aviation law. -- I get the feeling I'll end up having to consult some specialized aviation lawyer in far away BFE or something.

Thanks for the information so far..

Called AVEMCO during business hours >> had to leave a voicemail cause no one answered after 5 minutes waiting on hold. They must really want my business

11-19-2014, 08:03 PM
i've possessed CFI/non owned insurance for years. i CFI "on the side" and fly quite a few non-owned airplanes and i find it a good way to mitigate the associated risk. I pay about $1500/yr for CFI insurance for floats and wheels through NAFI/AOPA and also bought the AOPA legal services plan for about $120/yr. I did this due to a conversation with an acquaintance who was an AOPA attorney, an airplane owner, and now a judge. i'll tell you what he told me: It's difficult to prosecute CFI's due mainly to the fact that it's hard to prove that a diligent CFI did not impart, at least at some point, the necessary knowledge to the student. what the student does with that knowledge is, to a large extent, out of the CFI's control. that being said, this does not preclude the ATTEMPTS to persecute the CFI. one might well spend $100K to prove your innocence. your "release from liability" won't do squat. when things go south, it's not the individual you are concerned about, it's the insurance companies looking not to pay that you'll be going up against. those looking for restitution cast a big net and you'll get caught up fast because you have a real job. as a professional, you have a duty to protect your career. it's reasonable to ask your prospective client to foot the bill for your insurance. at any rate, he'll find out, sooner or later, that his insurance wont cover flight instruction, not for a reasonable cost anyway. "borrowing" your insurance will be the cheapest way for BOTH of you to enjoy at least some release from liability.

11-20-2014, 06:32 AM
Thank you downtownbrown. This is golden information. "A duty to protect my career." This hits hard because when I take when I climb into a SEL airplane for a joy ride I often reflect how if something should happen which leads to FAA action I am also endangering my livelihood.

To be teaching a single student (for no financial gain) the system sure is stacked against me. I'll have to see what AOPA or AVEMCO offer me but anticipating well over 1000 dollars in insurance costs upfront; that dollar figure sure puts the brakes on my desire to get into this CFI'ing business again. (Especially for a guy on regional FO salary.)

Thanks. I'll write back on here to let y'all know what ends up happening.

11-20-2014, 07:03 AM
Knowing if a "Release from All Liability" form actually protects you would be kind of important before turning the ignition key next time.

I doubt there is any jurisdiction which allows potential plaintiffs to carte blanche sign away all their "rights" in advance...that would be very bad for the legal profession.

You can't get out of paying the plaintiff (or more specifically his lawyer), all you can do is get insurance to cover it.

11-24-2014, 11:09 AM
Alright folks. Got off the phone with the fine people at AVEMCO and they've quoted me a policy that covers both my CFI activities and my personal rental/borrowing of aircraft for roughly $400 annually.

That'd cover this:
Bodily Injury (Each Person): $25k
Property Damage: $250k
Each Accident: $250k
Aircraft Damage Liability: $25K

My question now is: Is that enough?

I'm concerned mostly with bodily injury coverage. In today's world, is 25k a joke or a reasonable amount to carry? Forgive me if I come off sounding like an ignorant fool, it's because I am!

Also, the aircraft I'll be flying most often as a CFI is insured at a value of $28K. Also, I plan to be renting/borrowing a few aircraft in the next 12 months that can't be worth much more than 50k. (Old 172s mostly.)

I've gotten the warm and fuzzy from y'all that having some sort of insurance is wise and I need to do it. Anyone who wants to chime in and recommend a level of coverage, I'd make me a lot more confident going forward. Thanks

11-24-2014, 01:00 PM
Here's my 2 cents...

Being a CFI is risky business. Insurance for the most part is worthless. Unless you own property or have other tangible assets that someone can come after I wouldn't bother with anything more than a basic policy. If you can afford hull coverage that covers the aircraft value that is good. Otherwise, the most other common accident that occurs is a prop strike so figure 20-25k of insurance to cover it.

Liability is a another ball game. If you seriously hurt someone your 25k, even 100K policy isn't going very far. The funny thing is if you have a lot of insurance you are more likely to get sued. If you don't have anything what are the lawyers going after? Your regional airline FO pay? Can't get blood from a turnip.

In the unlikely event you crash with a student and get sued just file BK and call it a day.

Your professional career is the other variable. Good record keeping may keep you out of the hot water with the FAA. I've known more than one instructor who has had a 709 ride with the Feds because of something stupid their student did.

Bottom line there is no way to fully protect yourself from litigation. There are ways to insulate yourself using corporations, placing assets into irrevocable trusts, etc. Even if you have insurance there is no guarantee they will be on your side or pay out when the time comes.

And if you ever found yourself defending yourself in a court room it's really easy for the plaintiff to convince 12 people who know nothing about aviation that you were grossly negligent. Flying an airplane with 60yr old technology and no parachute? That's sounds negligent right from the beginning.

11-28-2014, 03:19 PM
Good points CFI guy. AceyCandler, i suppose by now you've either made a decision or been paralyzed by the lack of a clear choice. CFI guy is right. the CFI business is risky and to insulate yourself from all litigation or liability just isn't going to happen. The majority of my CFI activities are in tailwheel airplanes, off airport, and float operations in an unforgiving environment, so i lean towards higher limits of liability and hull coverage. but, as CFI guys says, in reality, it's probably a waste of money and just like taking a whizz in a blue suit, it feels good but nobody really notices. but i do these activities because i like flying. i have gotten a lot of connections and satisfaction from working with all levels of pilots. it has helped my skills immensely and provided opportunities i could never afford on my own. lots of things we do don't make much sense, but the "soft" benefits might, occasionally, outweigh the risk. it's seems pretty much anything that's fun falls into this category. good luck.