Prudential has always been somewhat aviation life insurance friendly, not always leading the way, but always in the mix for fair underwriting and good rates. It now appears they are making a serious move to capture more of the life insurance market

Changes have been dribbling out over the past 6 months starting first with the bad news. Prudential has always given private pilots and student pilots equal footing in underwriting, but about 6 months ago they removed student pilots from that bracket and added a $2.50 per thousand flat extra to their coverage. To make at least some people feel better, at the same time they softened their stance on experimental and home built aircraft owners by giving them the same rate class as other pilots as long as they had 50 or more hours in their experimental of home built plane.

When these changes came out they hinted that more changes were coming and within the last two weeks they released their new guidelines which open up some never before seen doors for the avid pilot, at least with Pru. While they are not the only company that has stepped out and offered the best rate class for private pilots, they are one of only three that will go best class for both IFR and VFR.

The criteria for best class (along with good health):

– No rateable aviation activities (right side up, no bush landings, etc)
– Age 30 or over
– Minimum 1000 total hours or 5+ aviation history as a non student
– 30-300 hours annual flying time
– No FAA violations
– Minimum 100 hours in current make/model of aircraft
– Valid medical with no restrictions other than corrective lenses
– Must be fixed wing pilot only (no rotorcraft or glider pilots)

This is a huge step for Pru as their old guidelines were only slightly more liberal, primarily in the total hours required, and they would only approve at their third best rate class, standard plus.

This follows AXA Equitable’s new underwriting guidelines allowing the best rate class for IFR and VFR with more liberal total and annual hour requirements than Pru and no requirement for minimum hours in current aircraft. Minnesota Life will go best rate on IFR and second best on VFR, while North American will go second best, preferred, for both ratings. ING Reliastar advertises that they will approve best rate on IFR and VFR, but they add a 48 cent flat extra that really takes them out of competition in a lot of cases.

Bottom line. I see this as a trend back toward friendlier skies for private pilots. Just with the underwriting I’ve mentioned here there are great opportunities for aviation coverage without exclusions or flat extra rates.