I was running some quotes for a client of mine a few days ago, a husband and wife private pilot team. They had inquired through AOPA, Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, for group coverage and had run into several issues.

Probably the most troublesome was that with the new AOPA/ING Reliastar partnership where the website clearly claims, “This plan does not have any aviation exclusions, unlike some life insurance plans that exclude aviation-related activities.”. This is exactly what a private pilot wants to hear when they are considering life insurance. Unfortunately that statement is followed by “(Note: Death due to flying in or on certain aircrafts will result in reduced benefits. Please refer to the Terms tab for more details.)” Off to the terms tab I went and this is the not so great news waiting there, “The amount of your death benefit will be reduced by 50% if your death is a result of flying in or on an ultra light aircraft, a hang glider, or an aircraft not certified by a governmental unit.” Read that home builts, experimentals even with airworthiness certificates, etc.

This wouldn’t affect my clients now, but they are considering building a plane and were told by AOPA that a death in the home built plane would reduce the death benefit by 50%.

Another problem for my clients is the fact that they needed $1 million in coverage on the wife and $2 million on the husband. AOPA’s group life insurance offers, “You and your spouse under age 65 qualify for $5,000 up to $1 million in life benefits.” Fortunately they are under 65, but the coverage was still inadequate.

The fact that AOPA talks about this as a group life insurance benefit is laughable at best. They say, “Affordable Group Rates. As an AOPA member, you pay an affordable group discounted rate for this coverage.” That’s a lie! AOPA’s life insurance rates are exactly the same as ING/ReliaStar from any independent agent you want to go through, which by the way are not as competitive as several other companies on the open market. On the AOPA website they talk about the coverage as if it is a true group plan adding language such as “Portable Coverage. You can take this coverage with you if you leave your current job or move. It is not tied to your career or to any one employer.” Well, duh. If it wasn’t tied to a career or employer to start with, of course it’s portable.

And just to put a bit of frosting on this cake, if you bought the same private pilot life insurance coverage through an independent agent, not only would it cost exactly the same, but there would not be any language in the policy restricting different kinds of flight practices in the future to a 50% benefit. There would also be no limit to the amount of coverage.Who the heck would buy a policy like that?

Bottom line. AOPA life insurance has, in my opinion, been more about bells and whistles than true value added benefits for decades. Like so many advocacy groups, their private pilot life insurance plans and benefits end up being a plan to benefit the association, not the member.