Article on: Income Protection for Pilots MSE

Why 'Income Protection Insurance for Pilots'?

pilot loss of licence insurance uk vs income protection
'Pilots Income Protection' ✈️ Tax Free Benefits
Income Protection For Pilots > Quotes 15 secsPilot income protection insurance | Quotes 15 secs

Being an airline pilot as you probably know, can be both an exciting but mentally & physically challenging choice of career.

Given the long hours often worked, travelling either short or long haul, UK Insurers are aware of all this.

Let’s examine various issues of a Pilots job role & training🔸Then how it may effect taking out Pilots Income Protection vs Pilots Loss of License Insurance🔸Pilots Critical Illness Cover & Airline Pilot Life Insurance.

Aircraft Pilot PHI Insurance cover

Pilots usually expect to work unusual hours, as it's not a typical 9/5 job role. The length of any working day may well vary depending on the airline, the aircraft and route.

Also, you have to contend daily with busy air routes, air traffic delays, plus now the ongoing post Pandemic 2020's challenges like various air traffic control strikes.

Start times will often differ depending on the route, sometimes beginning in the very early mornings. Sometimes starting very late and flying over night.

Pilots must get used to flying across time zones and those affects it may have on their bodies and sleep patterns.

Given security arrangements post 9/11, it also means that the opportunity for pilots to just go wandering off around their plane to walk, exercise & greet their passengers (as beforehand) then became harder re ongoing security issues.

Being confined into a metal tube flying for hours at a time, it should come to no surprise that as human beings, Pilots (whether male or female) may occasionally become sick.

Most airlines generally therefore have a sick leave system in place to be used & whenever their usual airline pilot is not feeling fit for duty to fly.

Dependant upon the employer airline carriers, pilots may have different sickness leave terms to their contracts ie; paid time off work hours sick leave.

There has been much debate around this sick leave topic with Pilots in the various UK aviation news.

pilot income protection insurance
* source thesaurus plus

What is the Class 1 Medical for Pilots?

Airline Pilots, like certain other responsible occupations involving large transportation of people, cargo or goods, have to pass rigorous & regular health checks.

For airline pilots to fly, it is particularly necessary to first obtain & then regularly maintain a Class 1 Medical for Pilot Certificate (to be valid alongside their CPL or ATPL).

Pilots will therefore first require a special medical for pilots examination which is performed only by a doctor specializing in aspects of aviation medicine.

At that stage, if you are aware of any personal or family medical history bring this along to the examination eg; familial raised cholesterol history, you should advise them, even if you feel fine.

The medical for pilots examination are at an AeMC UK centre eg; (Birmingham, Heathrow, London) & this health check may take up to 4 hours.

The class 1 medical for Pilots examination will usually include the following:

  • Physical examination
  • Medical history
  • Eyesight
  • Electro-cardiogram (ECG)
  • Urine tests
  • Lung function tests
  • Haemoglobin blood tests
class 1 medical certificate for pilot |  quotes for Income Protection for Pilots

A class 1 medical exam for pilots certificate may be issued on the same day as the examination (if all their health requirements are met). A Class 1 medical certificate is valid for 12 months period.

UK Commercial Pilots are then also required to attend these regular class 1 medical certificate pilot test assessments annually until age 40, then 6 monthly until retirement age 65 [which is the age at which pilot Class 1 medical privileges are usually revoked].

However, if the requirements are not met or further investigations are then necessary, then any decisions on your fitness for a class 1 medical certificate for pilots will take longer.

These regular health checks apply to most pilots, whether on long or short-haul flights.

Other large vehicle transportation occupations also have to take regular medical checks to perform their job roles, such as HGV Lorry Drivers. However, Insurers are not as risk adverse for them unlike obtaining aircraft pilot insurance.

'Pilot Income Protection Insurance' | Income Protection for Pilots Quotes > 15 secs

'Pilot Job Uk'

A Pilots job involves simply more than just flying their aircraft from A to B.

Most commercial airlines usually have at least 2 pilots, mainly due to various safety issues that could jeopardize the safety of 100's of passengers and the plane.

For example: Human errors caused by fatigue, workload concentration, or sudden health problems faced by a pilot job role.

One pilot will be the aircraft captain who is the pilot in command. The other pilot job will be the supporting 1'st officer.

Pilots usually take turns to fly the aircraft (to help avoid these issues raised above). One pilot therefore operating the plane's controls. Then the other liaising pilot job uk NATS air traffic control at Swanwick and also completing the in flight paperwork via Ipad.

In some instances, such as long-haul flights, there may be multiple pilots on board so that each can take the necessary breaks from flying. It was never like that during WW2 say flying a Lancaster bomber.

The captain has overall responsibility for the safe and efficient operation of the aircraft and the safety of crew and passengers. Both roles can be demanding & stressful, so have an effect on underwriting for insurance.

Pilot Training Cost UK

A pilot training cost uk based will depend on whether you want to obtain a Private Pilot Licence or an Airline Transport Pilot Licence (ATPL).

The average cost of flight school can range therefore from £13k > £80k+. Additional expense costs like accommodation & fees, could easily boost this to @ £100k

To help fund this tremendous pilot training cost uk expense (often for the pilot's parents) there are various remortgage & loan options to then explore. These extra borrowings, may then also require home loan insurance protection.

What's typical 'Pilot Salary' in UK?

How much does pilot earn uk based? = Typical pilots salaries uk based will all depend on the airline they work for, the type of aircraft they are flying, plus your previous experience.

  • Starting uk pilot salaries for newly qualified 1'st officers, working for a smaller operation @ £25k
  • Starting salary pilot uk larger companies eg; Ryanair pilot salary or Easy Jet pilot salary @ £30k
  • For more experienced pilot salaries uk can range @ £35k+ to £50k in a 1'st officers role.
  • Captains starting 'pilot salary uk' medium-sized airline & aircraft may range @ £55k to £75k
  • Captains 'pilot salaries uk' major operators & larger aircraft can earn @ £95k to over £200k+
  • Concorde pilot salary were supposedly similar to other BA or Air France higher flying hours pilots

The Guardian stated that in 2016, airline pilots were the 4th highest paid profession in the UK, earning an average of £86,915 before tax a year.

How much does pilot earn uk & pilots income protection

'Pilots loss of Licence Insurance'

Pilots loss of license insurance pays a one off lump sum (or that lump sum paid via an income) in the event of an illness or accident - which may then result in your loss of your pilot medical class 1 status & then subsequent loss of your pilot licence.

Typically a pilot loss of licence insurance uk policy may insure you for 100% of the maximum sum insured below in respect of any bodily injury, illness including mental or behavioural disorder(s).

*Is a Loss of Pilots Licence Insurance Claim Taxable?

What's the Tax Status Of Loss Of Licence Insurance? This may well depend on how the payout is finally made it seems re HMRC.

For example, let's say your employer has provided you with this insurance as a benefit in kind package for Pilots.

The claim payout however then comes direct via the insurance company to yourself, and not via your employer in this example.

Therefore this insurance payment you then receive, could be seen by HMRC as part of your regular income still, albeit as a lump sum settlement of the insurance claim & that was triggered by your loss of license.

Alternatively, if your employers (who paid the insurance premiums during the course of your employment) were to pay you over that pilots license insurance claim lump sum themselves, then it may have been seen as tax treated differently.

Or in another scenario, the insurance payout is made but upon receipt several days later the pilot then dies. It could be that lump sum is now also then subject to inheritance tax, as part of their estate.

We always suggest you check the tax status of any Pilots license insurance payouts upon a claim directly with HMRC, as we aren't legal experts here & UK tax rules may change.

> Age 295.0 x Annual Income
Age 30 > 394.0 x Annual Income
Age 40 > 493.0 xAnnual Income
Age 50 > 542.0 x Annual Income
Age 55 > 591.8 x Annual Income
Age 60 > 641.5 x Annual Income

Note: In the event of the Pilots licence(s)/certificate(s) being restored within 18 months from the date of settlement of the claim, the Insurers for this pilot loss of licence insurance scheme may then require you to repay to them a pro-rata proportion of the benefit paid.

Loss of Licence Insurance Pilots - Example:

Aircraft Pilot age 50 earning £75k income is diagnosed with heart disease issues and will now have to retire unfortunately. They cannot access their accrued pension benefits as yet either. Their airline employer will pay them for upto 6 months also but then no more = £37.5k.

They had intended to carry on working upto age 65 = so would have earned 15 years x £75k salary = over £1.1 million (excluding wage rises)

He therefore claims on his loss of licence insurance for pilots & gets paid 2 x annual salary £150k. This sounds like alot until you realize they are now down nearly £1 million in lost income!.

Note: Typical premiums for this could be double that of pilots income protection.

We will therefore compare these 2 types of schemes below.

Pilot loss of licence insurance uk & Income Protection for Pilots UK

'Pilot Income Protection Insurance' PHI

We will go on to examine in this article on 'Income Protection For Pilots' the importance of getting the correct airline pilot disability insurance wordings. We will also look at the key differences between 'Income protection insurance for pilots' vs 'pilots loss of licence insurance'.

As a commercial Airline Pilot whether flying the major airline manufacturers such as Airbus, Boeing, Bombardier or Embraer - it is important an insurer may offer the correct insurance claim terms. This means being unable to perform your specific pilots job role under your "own occupation" status ie; a pilot flying an aircraft.

Income Protection for Pilots | PHI Insurance

Typical Key Features

  • Designed to pay out 💯 100% Tax Free Income to cover lost salary/wages as a Airline Pilot
  • Usually has an initial waiting or deferred / waiting period from 4/8/13/26/52 weeks 
  • PHI benefits are currently paid out tax free on claim until you return to work or plan end date
  • Insurers Plans can usually run upto age 65 ie; Pilots retirement
  • Income Insurance Benefits may be level or inflation linked from outset or claim
  • Medical evidence is usually required for underwritten insurance before any terms offered
  • Cover may be based on maximum of upto 65% of your gross annual earnings
  • Waiver of Premium so you do not have to pay the premiums in claim
  • Death benefits (if included) may just mean a lump sum sufficient for funeral costs or return of some premiums

Other insurance risks which generally may affect if an insurer will offer cover is which countries & places you are usually flying to, if deemed unsafe. 

2 Types of Pilots Income Protection

Comprehensive Income Cover

  • Covers you until you either go back to work …or maybe never go back to work
  • Protects you on an ‘own occupation basis’
  • Premiums may be fixed none-reviewable

Budget Income Cover

  • Budget cover may only payout per claim for upto say 12 | 24 | 60 months (ie; limited term)
  • Premiums may be annually age costed / 5 yearly reviewable
  • Invariably this type of plan is initially alot cheaper....but will cost more in the future as you get older

Own Occupation Basis for Pilots Income Protection

The best classification for Pilots income protection should be 'unable to do own occupation' ie; It would payout a claim...if you cannot perform your own occupation job role as a pilot.

Any alternative insurance terms definitions eg; "suited occupation" status - is an unsatisfactory definition for pilots & not deemed of similar value, given the hours of flight training done.

Suited occupation for income protection = the ability to carry out a job by which you are suitable because of your training & experience. The ‘suited’ insurance terms generally covers occupations which have seen a higher number of historic claims for generating stress-related claims.

In this situation, the insurers state an airline pilot for example could instead become air flight training consultant, so they won't payout out. The devil is in the insurance wordings!

'Pilots Insurance' Review

Pilots and Income Protection

UK Insurers for Pilots PHI Insurance

Given the medical fitness requirements to become & maintain being a pilot, for insurance risk purposes strangely therefore some mainstream UK Insurers have withdrawn offering Commercial Airline pilot income protection insurance terms in the 2020's.

The main 3 UK Life Insurers specialising in income protection for pilots are or were mainly friendly societies, British Friendly & Holloway Friendly and also LV= Liverpool Victoria. Mostly these are broker only deals.

Note; some UK Insurers may confusingly indicate they can offer you an insurance quote, but once applied for can then decline to offer any terms re your occupational role. Others can limit their income cover upto age 55 or 60, rather than age 65.

This may seem an unusual move, given generally as a profession aircraft pilots must be medically fit to perform their normal job role to fly an aircraft. 

Likewise, an Insurer may premium rate those who may also have a private pilots license, due to what they deem as higher insurance risks. 

For other types of insurance cover like critical illness or life cover (see below), the marketplace maybe far wider.

*Does Martin Lewis recommend Income Protection Insurance?

*Does Martin Lewis recommend Income Protection Insurance ? Pilots UK

Martin Lewis says YES it’s worth looking at PHI Income Protection Insurance. 

He points out that it pays you an income if you're unable to work due to illness or disability for a set period (generally a year or two).

Unsure if MSE meant here, if you could be off sick for a year or two...because as brokers we find many Insurers also offer full term income protection (not just for 1 or 2 years in claim).

Income protection he comments will usually pay a proportion of your salary, for example two-thirds, so that essential spending is covered.

He say income protection generally includes a greater range of illnesses in comparison to reviewing critical illness cover, but it can also be more expensive.

MSE generally says insurance is a cheap financial lifeline but the ultimate choice is always yours. They don't mention pilots income protection here specifically, just generalize on this insurance type.

The MoneySavingExpert also says when it comes to deciding between the two types of insurance, it could be worth speaking to a financial adviser.

In general, Martin Lewis says you will often find the "Cheapest Quotes by going to a Broker" & NOT via Comparison Sites.

Martin Lewis suggests being the Money Expert "NEVER BLINDLY BUY DIRECT" expensive policy offers either via a Bank or One Insurer ie; Shop around or use a Broker.

Lastly, the MoneySavingExpert also said generally remember, not all insurers plans are featured on insurance comparison sites. We would agree here - so let's help you shop around for your best broker deals.

In terms of the large range of income protection insurance products available, Money Saving Expert are fully impartial with all their best buy reviews. As you maybe aware, neither Martin nor MSE never endorse products.

Note: Yes, they mention individual products & services on MSE site, but they make it very clear don't 'support' them.

'pilot loss of licence insurance uk' vs Income Protection for Pilots

Pilots Income Sickness Insurance | Underwriting & Health Issues

You pay a monthly premium for Airline Pilots Income Protection during the term of the policy. Cost will depend mainly on:

# Your Age – at the time you start the policy ie; older people are more likely to suffer an illness, so pay more.
# Your Gender – being male or female no longer affects insurance rates wef 2012 via all income PHI providers.
# Your Health – at the time you start the policy. If your health is adverse eg; raised BMI kg you may have to pay more, have exclusions or even be refused sickness cover.
# Your Occupation – Pilots static working role & travelling in a metal tube in the sky being more likely than others to contribute towards illness
# Hobbies and lifestyle – for example, solo private flying also is high risk, so you’ll pay more.
# Smoker Status – for example, smoking makes you more likely to make a claim, so you’ll pay more than a none smoker.
# Waiting period – once you claim, there is a delay before payments start.

You can choose how long this 'wait period' is eg; from 13 weeks if your airline employer just covers your salary upto 13 weeks. Also, you may have a savings nest egg to fall back on anyway short term?

The longer this initial deferred or waiting period eg; deferred 26 weeks - then the less you will pay for your cover.

What does Income Protection for Pilots Cost?

Well, that's the million pound question! So looking at the similar example above for loss of licence insurance for pilots.

Aircraft Pilot age 50 earning @ £75k pa income. If you then worked (or had to retire instead due to ill health) for the next 15 years until retirement, you could potentially earn over £1 million gross ie; £75kpa x 15 years [or more with any future inflation wage rises].

So doing a typical quote for income protection insurance for pilots calculation: £75k x 65% = @£48,000 x 15 years = £731k (if level cover on claim) or maybe @ £800k+ with wage rises discussed via BALPA.

As such, feel free to do you own income protection quote - to then value what your pilots income is worth to your family lifestyle and bills if off sick ?

'Income Protection For Pilots' > PHI Quotes 15 secs

'Pilots Income Protection' vs 'Pilots Loss of License Insurance'

So let's compare Example Pilots Income Protection vs Loss of License Insurance for Pilots claims on either typical insurance plan schemes;

  • Example: Airline Pilot Jo aged 50 & non smoker
  • Intended to fly until retirement age 65 (in 15 years time)
  • Earning £75k pa income & in employers pension scheme
  • Their employer airline covers them for 13 weeks sickness pay, then nothing
  • Unable to access any early retirement pension benefits until age 65 normal retirement age

Example Pilot Jo has to stop working due to various ongoing health issues. Example Case discussed with employers & BALPA. Here are some typical loss of medical insurance for pilots license scenarios....

PHI Income Protection for Pilots | ExampleLoss of Licence Insurance for Pilots | Example
* Pilot Jo age 50 | 15 years claim maximum allowable* Pilot Jo age 50 | 2 x annual salary claim maximum
* Cover available for airline pilots to age 60* Insurance cover only available for airline pilots up to age 54
* Maximum Payout £731k (Salary cover to age 65)* 2 years x £75k = £150k (then policy ends)
* Paid if unable to do 'own occupation' due to any accident, sickness or disability* For a valid 'Aviation Loss of License Insurance' claim it must be either revoked or suspended
* Full cover upto age at expiry age 65* Cover at start of Policy limited to Bodily Injury only if aged 60+
* Once underwritten would advise if any pre-existing condition exclusions* Pre-existing conditions excluded or Bodily Injury or Illness (which occurred within 3 years before start)
* Paid after 13 weeks sickness* Work cover pays salary for 13 weeks sickness
* Paid until retirement or return to work* Lump Sum (OR if paid out monthly until all lump sum ends, & if kept alongside PHI cover then Insurers may take that into account in their overall claims process assessments)
* Claim Payments made tax-free monthly to you* Loss of License Claim Payments (could be subject to tax & NI)
* No return of payments (if then return to work after illness)* Possible return of payments (if then return to work after illness)
* No return of claim payments types (once paid)* Any payments of Temporary Total Disablement Benefit will be deducted from any
subsequent Permanent Total Disablement Benefit PTDB payment.
* No return of claim payments types (once paid)* If you regain your Pilots Licence within a period of (36) months from the date of settlement of any claim, OR
'You know you are likely to regain it'...You will then be required to refund all monies paid by Insurers in
respect of PPTDB in settlement of such claim
* Example deals from @£2100 (total annual cost) * Example deals from @£5250 (total annual cost)
Typical Key Features of Pilots Income ProtectionTypical Key Features of Aviation Loss of Licence Insurance * Hiscox, Finch Group
Note: We are not stating one insurance product is better than the other & ideally you should consider both - budgets permitting

There are only certain insurers who offer either contracts to Pilots & their terms may all vary. So we have summarized & highlighted typical key feature differences. Note: We do not sell & advise on Pilots 'loss of licence insurance' and cannot comment if you decide to cancel one insurance for the other, as they are 2 different types of overall Pilots income protection schemes.

Chances of making a claim | income protection for pilots

Pilots | Critical Illness Insurance instead? 

Critical illness insurance for Pilots pays out a tax-free sum if you are diagnosed with various life-threatening serious conditions eg; specified cancers, heart disease, stroke, ms etc; as listed in the insurers policy.

Many critical illness plans also include free child cover upto age 21 or further education ends.

For some, it is a different alternative back up plan to Income Protection – as it usually gives Lump Sums or Family Income Benefits style options.

But there are lots of common situations when it would not pay out. For example, if you had back problems or maybe a stress-related illness. Additionally, not all occurrences of the critical illnesses listed are covered, for example some lesser forms / early stages of cancer maybe not covered by Insurers as Martin Lewis also comments on.

Note:Lifecover and critical illness cover should not be confused with terminal illness, for any commercial pilot insurance. Terminal illness benefit is usually automatically included within a life insurance policy and means you will not survive, as you cannot be cured.

Life Insurance for Airline Pilots 

Given regular health checks are done, life insurance for airline pilots is usually available at standard normal premium life rates for most civil aviation aircraft pilots.

Airline pilots are considered to be generally standard risk for obtaining airline pilots life insurance policy terms by most UK insurance providers ie; air accident rates within the aviation industry for commercial aircraft pilots are low.

All applications are usually underwritten, meaning Insurers will ask full personal and family health & lifestyle questions. Commercial airline pilot life insurance at these standard rates therefore also assumes no other adverse associated health risks eg; raised BMI kg.

Note: UK pilot insurance company policies may pay out to your beneficiaries (once application terms are agreed) whether you died at work or outside of your working role.

airline pilot life insurance vs Income Protection for Pilots

For Martin Lewis on Life Insurance, his life insurance advice is for a good rule of thumb use the 'THE 10 x RULE'.

His basic MSE cover formula is to therefore aim to cover '10 x the Annual gross income of the highest earner or main breadwinner (probably you) until any kids have finished full-time education.

Using that principle, if you earned £75kpa gross, he says you should maybe consider insuring yourself (after any mortgage, loans & debts are repaid) for @ £750k life insurance for airline pilots (ie; 10 x the annual gross income).

Interestingly, he recommends just insuring your gross income of £75kpa - but not get complicated with calculating net after tax incomes

As such, unlike the 10 x £75k gross salary insurance example - you could instead protect your family with either;

  1. Income = £6,250pm or £75kpa family income benefit lifecover policy
  2. Lump sum = £2.5 million level term life insurance coverage [if invested @3% = £75k pa]
  3. Or a mixture of the 2 policy types - all dependant on your family circumstances.

Neither takes into account any employer death in service cover or repaying any mortgages, loans or debts.

  • You can decide wether you want the insurance cover to be level or inflation linked
  • Single plan | 2 x seperate plans | Joint life insurance 1'st claim | Lump Sums or Family Income Benefits options

Apart from losing a loved one, this real hidden income threat is what could be lost if the main breadwinner died prematurely. 

So, as Financial Advisers we are not saying this Martin Lewis formula of 10 x salary is therefore a 100% one size fits all ie; not applicable for everyone's own personal family or business situation.

You may also feel this is either not enough cover, or perhaps too much for your own circumstances, if trying to be money savvy on your life insurance decisions.

So, I would re-summarize the Martin Lewis insurance protection formula as follows...

Life Insurance | Martin Lewis Money Savings Expert That is to ideally 'Protect 3 Things'...

  1. LUMP SUM > Repay any mortgage & debts, final expenses costs
  2. INCOME > Help to cover all your monthly bills
  3. LUMP SUM > Back up Plan for holidays, education, emergencies

Pilots Insurance Conclusion

Ideally, we suggest to help protect your lifestyle & finances you should have some form of insurance protection plans in place.

Whether that be income protection, critical illness or life insurance (alongside any provided by your employer) if your budget allows this.

For more information on all this re all aspects of Pilots Insurance, get an online quote & costs or talk to our professional brokers here.

Article on 'Income Protection for Pilots' by Martyn Spencer Financial Adviser (2024)

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Income Protection for Pilots