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Typically, a pilot will have airplane insurance (or renter's insurance, if flying un-owned aircraft), car insurance, home insurance, life insurance and then for good measure purchase an "umbrella"-type insurance (usually up to $1MM). Have there been cases where this wasn't enough insurance, or the pilot thought he or she was insured but there was something unforeseen that rendered his insurance policies ineffective of shielding him or her from liability?

This question is specific towards American pilots, in this case if would be for an "average" person, owning/flying a small single-engine piston airplane and a net worth of less than $1MM.

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    $\begingroup$ I understand the question but I'm not sure if there's any good, general answer because it all comes down to the terms and conditions of your policy and what the circumstances of a claim are. It's difficult to say what is "enough" insurance because it depends on your other assets and the risks you can accept. $\endgroup$
    – Pondlife
    Commented Jan 13, 2014 at 16:18
  • $\begingroup$ @Pondlife thanks for the question feedback. I guess I'm just wondering if there is a list (or maybe just one) common "gotcha" that there have been some examples where a pilot took what they would consider to be standard precautions with their insurance buying but it turned out not to be enough. $\endgroup$
    – Canuk
    Commented Jan 13, 2014 at 19:25

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An umbrella policy is insurance on top of insurance in case your primary insurance is not enough. For this reason it is usually inexpensive relative to to other insurance policies.

Using your example, a million dollars beyond what you are already insured for is a pretty good amount of coverage. It would take a really catastrophic event for a small plane to do more than a million dollars worth of damage beyond the limits of an owner's or renter's insurance policy.

If you're considering an umbrella policy be sure that it does not specifically exclude aircraft because many do. If you purchase a policy through an agent who knows that you are a pilot, you're probably fine but don't assume that your commercial umbrella policy covers you because many commercial umbrella polices specifically exclude aircraft.
I would be more worried about the umbrella policy excluding aircraft (like you mentioned unforeseen things rendering the policy ineffective in the last sentence of the first paragraph) rather than a million dollars on top the normal coverage not being enough.

I'm also assuming that by typical pilot you mean small aircraft not a corporate jet or something that has a lot more potential liability.

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    $\begingroup$ You are correct in your assumption. I'm thinking about a typical private pilot (may have advanced ratings) who uses his/her airplane for personal travel and enjoyment. Good point about making sure that the policy doesn't exclude aircraft or actions related to flying. $\endgroup$
    – Canuk
    Commented Jan 13, 2014 at 19:23
  • $\begingroup$ I mean it IS possible you could take out a 747 with 400 people on it and a million dollars would be a drop in the bucket but it is an unlikely scenario. $\endgroup$
    – p1l0t
    Commented Jan 13, 2014 at 19:32

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