Private aviation, especially with the rising cost of fuel, has been hit hard in one of the areas that life insurance underwriters look at closely, proficiency. In this case proficiency really comes down to flying enough hours that each new flight isn’t liking waking up in a new world. So, what’s the big deal with proficiency?

Most companies are pretty consistent with what they want to see as far as annual hours. In their minds they want enough to stay in practice and not so much that they feel the sheer volume of hours is tilting the risk factor. The general rule of thumb is that 26+ hours annually is the minimum they want to see for proficiency and 150-200 hours is the most they want to see for exposure.

There are exceptions made on a case by case basis, and determining what needs an exception and where to go to find it are the job of an independent agent. There are less than 20 life insurance companies that step outside of the box for private pilots and an agent that purports to be doing the best job for you should have access to all of them.

The rest of the companies don’t mince words with their treatment of pilots. Unless you are an airline pilot you will be asked to pay a flat extra fee for coverage of aviation. The average flat extra is $3.50 per thousand per year. On a $1,000,000 policy using that basis, you would have the normal policy cost plus $3500 per year in flat extra charges.

$3.50 is just for standard private aviation. It can quickly climb if you are, for instance, bush flying in Alaska. Something about landing on sandbars in rivers makes underwriters nervous even if they’re not on the plane. Flying homebuilt and some experimental aircraft can raise their eyebrows as well.

A few commercial pilots that take heavy hits are tour group pilots, EMS pilots and pilots that ferry crews and equipment to and from off shore oil platforms.

Bottom line. If you fly and are looking for life insurance, do not throw your request out to the general life insurance agent pool. Seek out agents that have the experience and the connections to get the job done and still leave enough money to fuel up for your next flight.