The vast majority of states do not require liability insurance for owners of general aviation aircraft, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) reported late last week. The congressional watchdog looked into general aviation liability insurance requirements at the behest of lawmakers concerned that a lack of mandates has led to instances of individuals incurring losses but receiving little to no compensation. The lawmakers further asked the GAO to explore the feasibility of imposing federal liability insurance requirements.
The U.S. Department of Transportation requires liability insurance for commercial and air-taxi operators, but not general aviation. That is typically regulated by the state. The GAO found that 11 states have some variation of liability insurance or aircraft financial-responsibility requirements. Only Minnesota has called for minimum coverage levels ($100,000 per passenger seat). The GAO found the cost of a policy providing $1 million in coverage with $100,000 limits per accident victim ranged from $200 to $550 for a small general aviation aircraft.
Aviation stakeholders believe the government should determine the extent of a problem involving a lack of insurance before moving forward with regulation, the GAO said. But there is insufficient data to determine the extent of the problem, the agency noted. A number of aviation associations estimated that 80 percent to 90 percent of operators have liability insurance. The legal community, however, does see a problem, primarily involving underinsured owners and pilots.