Flying a seaplane can be an incredible experience, but like with any other type of flying you should be prepared for the worst. Accidents, natural occurrences that damage planes, and theft are a reality for all plane owners. Seaplane owners and pilots take on additional risks based on water conditions and potential water damage.
If you own a seaplane or are thinking about buying one, understanding seaplane insurance is an important step in being prepared if something goes wrong. Knowing the ins and outs of seaplane insurance can also help you pick a broker that can get you the best rates based on your specific seaplane and flying expectations.
1. What Qualifies As a Seaplane?
There are several types of aircraft that qualify as seaplanes, and in many cases, people use the terms for these planes interchangeably. Generally, there are two types of seaplanes, which might have single or double engines.
Flying Boat Seaplanes
Flying boats have a ship-like hull that provides the means for the plane to float. They generally have added floats near the tips of the wings to help stabilize them when they are on the water. They can carry relatively heavy loads, but can be hard to maneuver in smaller water spaces or docking areas.
Floatplanes have pontoons attached to the fuselage of the plane. Usually, there are two floats, one on each side of the hull. These floats allow the plane to land on water without using the hull itself as a source of buoyancy.
Either type of seaplane might also have wheels so that it can operate on land as well as on water. It typically costs more to cover amphibious planes as there is more potential for damage due to the landing gear.
2. Why You Need Seaplane Insurance
It’s not possible to foresee everything that can happen when you own a seaplane, but taking a few steps to make sure you have a solid insurance policy can go a long way in giving you some peace of mind.
At the very least, you should have basic liability insurance, typically offered with the limits $1,000,000 total liability, limited to $100,000 per passenger. We also recommend that you carry physical damage coverage for both the aircraft and floats.
3. What Determines If You Are Insurable?
Insurance companies considers factors related to you as a pilot and several characteristics of your plane when they decide whether to insure you. These considerations matter both when you initially ask for coverage and for your renewals with the same or a different company down the road.
Insurance companies look at what they consider both desirable and undesirable aspects of your flying and personal history when deciding whether to insure you. Several risk factors can work in your favor, including:
- Flight time in seaplanes
- Time in amphibious planes if that is what you are insuring
- Total flying time in any aircraft
- Education, ratings and certificates held
- Participation in ongoing training
Factors that can work against you include:
- Enforcement actions
- An accident history
- Advanced age
- Poor medical history
There are several aspects of your plane that the insurance company considers, such as:
- The number of seats
- Accident history for that type of seaplane and for your specific plane
- Whether factory parts and support are available
- Airframe age
- Type of landing gear, with amphibious gear usually more expensive to cover
- Where you plan to fly your plane and whether it is for commercial or private use
4. What Does Seaplane Insurance Cover?
As with other aviation insurance, you can get both liability and damage coverage for your seaplane.
Liability coverage protects against damage to people or property that are a result of you operating your plane. This coverage is for medical and other expenses for people, and for property damage caused by your plane, not to your plane. There are upper limits for this coverage, both in total and per person.
Physical damage coverage, also known as hull coverage, protects the plane itself. The initial coverage is based on the value of your plane, and there are usually no changes based on depreciation
The floats on your seaplane are covered within your physical damage insurance, as a separate part of the total amount of coverage. Your insurance company usually sets this amount when they give you a quote. For example, they may offer $300,000 worth of coverage, with $50,000 set aside if your floats are stolen, lost, or damaged.
5. How Can I Get My Rates Down?
There are several ways to keep the cost of your seaplane insurance down, including:
- Add as many total flight hours and hours in your seaplane as possible
- Continue training on your seaplane, including a refresher with a Certified Flight Instructor if possible
- Keep your plane in a hangar to protect it from the elements and to reduce maintenance costs
- Keep track of everything in great detail so when it is time to renew your poliey you have all the information the insurance company needs at your fingertips
- Ask your broker to shop for policies every year with your updated flight hours and other information to make sure you are getting the best rate
- Review your needs every year to see if there are places or times of the year when you can reduce your coverage
Be sure that you talk to your broker about anything else you can do to get your rates down. There may be specific options to reduce rates in your geographic area or from a speficic insurance company that you qualify for.
Learn More or Request a Quote
If you want to learn more about seaplane insurance or you are ready to request a quote, visit us at BWI Aviation Insurance.
Investopedia ranked us #1 in aircraft insurance for 2021 and 2022 based on our policy options, affordable rates, and exceptional customer service. We cover both commercial and private seaplanes, helping protect your, your passengers, and your plane.
Why Shop for Aircraft Insurance at BWI Aviation Insurance Agency?
There are a lot of variables and factors in obtaining aircraft insurance, particularly when deciding how much coverage fits your bill. Before settling on a best-fit figure, you must select the appropriate aircraft coverage type, factor in your flight hours, aircraft type, and passenger load. This is hectic even when you have time.
At BWI, we understand the complexity of shopping for aircraft insurance, which is why we simplify and streamline the entire process for our customers. When your trust us to provide you with aircraft insurance, you’ll get low rates, fast quotes, and coverage you can always count on.
Call 800.666.4359 today for a free Airplane Insurance Quote or Click Here to submit a quote request online.
BWI is the Nation’s Leader in Aviation Insurance, with offices based in Corona, CA and Anchorage, AK.