Loss of Licence insurance

Loss of licence insurance: worth taking one or not?

It might not be something you want to think about, but what happens if you lose your medical licence? Will you be able to maintain your way of life if you need to choose a different career.
Or even worse, if you can’t work at all?

This is the reason why a loss of licence insurance exists. Your commercial flight crew licence is only valid in combination with a valid class 1 medical. So if you lose your medical you automatically lose your flight crew licence.

How does a loss of licence insurance work?

Usually, the insurer pays out a fixed amount or sometimes you receive monthly payments. The height of the amount can be dependent on the age you have when you lose your medical licence. Another option is that you choose the exact amount beforehand when you take the insurance. Obviously, the amount of money you have covered in the insurance determines your monthly or yearly premium.

In my case I had two different loss of licence insurances. One covered the amount of the bank loan I took for flight training. The other one would compensate the initial loss of income after losing my medical licence.

I’ll give you a bit of an idea of the amounts that I’m talking about.

The insurance I took privately covered a fixed amount of €100,000. It was meant to pay off my loan at the bank and I paid a yearly premium of €600.

The other one worked differently. A monthly amount of €35 was deducted from my salary. The payout would depend on the age of the pilot at which he or she would lose the medical licence. For example: at the age of 30 I would receive €85,000, at 40 it would be €75,000.

These might sound like serious amounts, but remember I´m talking about a situation where you can never ever practice your profession as a commercial pilot anymore. And these amounts can help you pay off your bank loan, pay for additional education for a new career or use it to set up your own business. When you have medical issues, the last thing you want to worry about is not being able to pay for your mortgage or rent.

When I thought I was well insured…

You might think I had it all arranged and set. Well, I thought the same. Unfortunately, nothing is further from the truth. If you ever had to deal with any kind of insurance you know they can be annoying and very time-consuming.

For all you female pilots out there: please check the policy of the insurance very carefully!!! One of the insurances had written in their policy that they excluded any medical issues deriving from pregnancy, abortion or giving birth. This wasn’t a topic that occupied my brain at the age of 20, so I never paid attention to it.

From my perspective this is pure discrimination. Women pay the exact same premium as male pilots, but they’re excluded from several things just for being a woman. I’m not even sure if this is allowed. If you have any legal knowledge about that, I would love to hear from you!

The other insurer is not willing to pay (yet). Why not? Because they claim that they are not sure wether my loss of licence is permanent. I’m in a battle with them for almost 5 years now but what is permanent (enough)? Is it permanent only when I’m dead and my condition has never improved?

It’s ridiculous that this has to be such a battle. There is a very, very slim chance you need to claim this insurance and when you do, they try everything in their power to prevent them having to pay.
Together with the Dutch Pilot Union I’m still working on this case.

And believe me, I won’t give up.

So should you get a Loss of Licence insurance?

I do advise (young) pilots to get the insurance. Just because I have a negative personal experience, doesn’t mean that I think it’s money thrown away. A number of pilots who lost their medical had their insurers pay when they needed it.

Especially if you’re taking a loan at a bank to pay for flight training, I would suggest you take a loss of licence insurance. When you start your pìlot career you expect to have a certain income and income growth. Being a captain on a wide body jet at a major airline is what many of us envision for our future.

When you lose your licence and have to change careers your income can drop significantly. Paying off the debt can be very hard if you don’t have the income that you expected when signing up for the payback scheme. To illustrate, I had to pay off €900 a month.

I can’t give you any advice on which insurer to choose. Of course Google gives you a lot of options but ask around. Request different quotes and choose the one that suits your personal situation.

So the answer to my initial question is: yes, it is worth it to have a loss of licence insurance. As long as you read the policy and conditions very carefully!

You may be perfectly healthy now.

Just like I was.

But you never know what happens in the future…


My Boeing 737 Type-Rating

My Boeing 737 Type Rating

I just came back from Berlin to instruct a few days of MCC in the Boeing 737 simulator and I felt really grateful. Why?

After I did my last flight as a first officer on the Boeing 737 four years ago, the world sort of stopped turning. Loosing your medical license is not something you expect at the age of 32 and I had a lot of trouble letting go of my flying career.

My heart is in aviation

The first 1,5 years after that happened I didn’t want anything to do with flying, it was too painful. While time passed by, I slowly started to miss aviation. I always used to work in aviation. I’ve been an assistant floormanager at Amsterdam Airport Schiphol, a check-in agent for KLM, a cabin attendant for Transavia, a loadcontroller for KLM and finally a first officer and flight safety instructor for Transavia. And all that before the age of 25.

Obviously a new career outside of aviation would be the less confronting option, but I wouldn’t be doing something where my heart lies. Because clearly that’s in aviation.

As I love teaching, I searched for schools to instruct ATPL theory. I found one in a city near our hometown and started teaching flight planning, mass & balance, operational procedures, etc. Though the teaching itself was a lot of fun, I missed sharing my ‘own’ airplane knowledge. I started to explore if it was still possible for me to get my SFI (synthetic flight instructor) certificate for the Boeing 737. It was, but I had to do the course and apply for the certificate within 2 months. Luckily, I found an ATO where I could start immediately and everything worked out perfectly.

Finding the instructor job that suits me

Although I have 3200 hours on the B737NG, I found it quite difficult to find a freelance job as a type rating instructor without actual instructor experience. Fulltime is not an option due to my medical status. I’m 56% unfit to work, so having influence on the workdays and hours is important to me.

After instructing a few type rating sessions for a Spanish company and on & off assessment preparation for airlines in a simulator in Marbella, I recently found a great freelance job in Berlin that has more consistency. As I’m not flying in the actual operation anymore I need to work harder to keep all my knowledge to the high level I desire and having instructor sessions on a somewhat regular basis helps a lot.

I’ve been doing MCC and JOC sessions there and I absolutely love it. Training pilots with no experience in a multi pilot complex aircraft and seeing them improve quickly is very rewarding. And most importantly: to see that they are having fun. This is the last part of their aviation training before they can start applying for the airlines, so this is the cherry on top. As there are more opportunities for lowtimers, times are exciting for them now.

So back to the part where I said I was grateful. I’m grateful that this company is giving me the opportunity to do what I love. I’m grateful that my students are very motivated and that they make instructing fun. But most of all, I’m grateful for the fact that I found a new passion after losing my first one.

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