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That used to be a quick and easy answer. The best life insurance rates were available only to the most experienced and trained pilots. For an airline pilot life insurance was no trick at all. For them they might as well have been a perfectly healthy car salesperson.

For private pilots life insurance was a bit more challenging, but generally speaking if the pilot was instrument rated (IFR), had adequate total hours to show experience (usually 250 or more) and adequate annual hours to show proficiency (Usually 25-50), they could get the best rate class from a handful of private aviation life insurance friendly companies. Where an airline pilot could count of best rate class treatment from almost any company, their junior private pilot friends had to hunt for their dinner.

For a long time this was as far as the best rate class would stretch. ING Reliastar toyed with something close when they said they would allow best rate class for IFR or VFR pilot with a flat extra charge of 48 cents per thousand dollars worth of insurance. Admittedly it sounded tempting since $.48 was the smallest flat extra anyone had ever heard of for aviation, but the math didn’t work out so well. Even though the flat extra was small, after adding it on the end result was a rate that was very often a little more than a VFR pilot could get with several other companies at their preferred or second best rate class.

Recently AXA Equitable jumped as the new go to company for most private pilots. While Minnesota Life at their best rate for IFR is very competitive with AXA, Minnesota Life has a 50 hour per year minimum. Under 50 hours goes to a preferred rate as does VFR. AXA will go preferred plus rates for both ratings with just 30 hours per year.

Another recent big change was an apparent falling out between AOPA and Minnesota Life, a long time relationship. The new affiliate life insurance company for AOPA group insurance is ING Reliastar. I ran the rates from the AOPA website and from ING and their is no savings for a pilot to go through AOPA. In fact, with Minnesota Life and AXA at preferred plus rates for IFR, they both beat the AOPA/ING group rate and for VFR AXA takes the prize.

Another notable is Minnesota Life offering preferred plus rates for flight instructor life insurance and John Hancock offering preferred. Instructors have historically been beat up on so both of these are good news. Student pilots can get standard plus rates through Hancock which is as good as they’ve been able to do since Prudential pulled their standard plus rates for students.

Bottom line. Private pilot life insurance seems to have settled down a bit with companies and rates that seem firm. It looks like a good time to step off the roller coaster and buy the life insurance you need.