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

'Loss of Pilot Licence Insurance' & UK Income Protection Types

MSE Pilot Loss of Licence Insurance

Being a Commercial UK Airline Pilot as you already know, can be a very remunerative & financially rewarding career, especially once you climb the senior ladder upto Captain.

This lucrative job choice only happened though after those initially very expensive & long hours spent flight training.

As such, are you prepared to risk 💯 100% of your time & investment to be an Airline Pilot, only to have threaten your Income & Lifestyle - IF the worst happened?

Your 'Flying Rights are cancelled' either temporarily or sadly revoked permanently due to Ill Health or Accident?

UK Pilot Loss of Licence Insurance | Income Protection Review

Talking to our clients, the main advantages of being an airline pilot is having major job satisfaction. All being fulfilled by your passion for flying associated with that career role.

That yearning & time spent to become a commercial pilot....but possibly for some only sadly then to lose their Pilots license, for one health reason or another.

As you are aware, some days more than others, being an Airline Pilot can then be both a physically and mentally challenging career choice as well.

Given the time & hours spent 1000's feet up in the air & any reactions onto your ongoing well being. Those long anti-social hours worked, flying sometimes either very early or late.

UK Insurers are also aware of all this when assessing all these risks for the various Loss of Pilot Licence Insurance Types, or Income Protection Insurance for Airline Pilots & Critical Illness Cover.

Let’s examine those financial impacts this may have on Pilot's Income Protection OR Pilot Loss of Licence Insurance 🔸 Also Pilots Critical Illness Cover OR Income Protection Insurance🔸Finally on Airline Pilots Life Insurance

Pilot Loss of Licence Insurance Uk

Pilots Sick Leave Pay & Health Insurance Benefits?

"Pilots Loss of License Insurance"

Many major airlines may provide their pilots with some sick leave pay. Although it's not as simple as that re pilot absenteeism and its immediate commercial impact, as their planes need to keep flying.

This employee sick pay benefit can be for some staff upto 6 months (others maybe longer), but only once for example you have worked there for 5 years or more.

Major airlines may also provide non-contributory pilot loss of licence insurance benefits, which we will go onto review what this may all mean to you.

Other employers may give access to other various discounted employee benefits like critical illness cover, and pilots medical health insurance.

This subject of sick leave days has been the topic of much debate over the last few years across the airline industry, as you probably know between pilots & employers.

Indeed, according to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) nearly 5,000 thousand pilots lied on medical records, to hide conditions that would prevent them even sitting in the cockpit.

But what happens if this all isn't enough if you are suddenly off work for a longer term period OR unfortunately for some pilots.... who may never work again.

In other words, they then lose their valuable commercial pilot licence uk coverage - and with it that high regular income & lifestyle.

If so, what are the key differences between all these main types of income insurance cover, ones that you may have to rely on financially longer term?

Class 1 Pilots Medical Insurance Health Checks

Pilot Class 1 Medical - Does a Pilot need to be 100% healthy?

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

For UK airline pilots to continue flying, it is 💯 100% necessary to regularly maintain their Class 1 Medical for Pilot Certificate (to be valid alongside their ATPL or CPL).

This allows commercial airline pilots employers to satisfy & certify their own company insurance requirement risks.

These special medical for pilots examinations are performed only by trained doctors, specializing in all aspects of aviation medicine.

At that stage, if you are then made aware of any new personal or family medical history, you must bring this along to your examination.

For example; a familial heart disease history is diagnosed you should advise them, and even if you feel fine.

The medical for pilots examination are performed at the AeMC UK centres eg; (Heathrow, London, Birmingham) & this full health exam may take up to 4 hours.

What happens if a Pilot gets Sick?

What if a Pilot gets sick?

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

  • Physical examination
  • Electro-cardiogram (ECG)
  • Medical health history
  • Eyesight check
  • Urine tests
  • Lung function tests
  • Haemoglobin blood tests

UK Commercial Airline Pilots are then also required to attend these class 1 medical certificate pilot test assessments annually up until age 40.

Then usually 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.

Or worst case scenario, your pilots licence privilege removed all together. What happens then financially?

Let's have a look at a few typical pilots disability insurance example cases & the need for some type of pilots loss of licence insurance.

Airline Pilot Health Issues | Medical Problems?

Re Insurances: Can Pilot's be Obese? ADHD? Diabetic? Colour-Blind?

What's 'Pilots Loss of Licence Insurance' UK?

What's Pilot Loss of Licence Insurance? A Pilots loss of license insurance like those offered by some companies eg; APPN pilot loss of license or Pilot Saam, may typically cover you for any accident, bodily injury, illness including mental or behavioural disorders.

This loss of licence pilot insurance can be either Temporary, and paid for say upto 3 years to help cover your regular monthly expenses.

Or its Permanent and paid as a "one off payment" lump sum eg; upto say 600k max and then ends.

Others for some insurance policies based upon multiples of annual salary and your age eg; a payment based upto 5 times your annual salary and then ends.

Alternatively, that Pilot Loss of Licence Insurance lump sum can also be repaid back via a regular income in the event of an illness or accident.

For example, what is loss of licence insurance works here in that if the lump sum is £250,000, it's then paid out as an income of £50,000pa over 5 years, but then payment ends.

There is usually no wait period for permanent cover - for the best loss of license insurance for pilots, but some may restrict and limit your joining age upto 45.

However, other temporary loss of licence insurance benefits may only become effective around 1 month after your confirmed sickness.

Insurers will require a written letter of the suspension of your medical class 1 as required by your authority or medical health department.

The older you are with some providers, often less insurance coverage you maybe entitled to & which may then result in your loss of your pilot medical class 1 status & 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 accident, bodily injury, illness including mental or behavioural.

Note: We don't advise on Loss of Pilot Licence Insurance UK policies. But we do give advice on types of airline pilots income protection, critical illness, accident & sickness, life insurance & private medical cover.

What is Loss of License Insurance for Commercial Pilots?

What's the UK Tax Status for Pilots Loss Of Licence Insurance?

This will all depend on the treatment how that pilot loss of license insurance cost payout is finally made top you. And your own HMRC tax status at that time.

For example, let's say your airline employer has provided you with loss of medical insurance for pilots as a benefit in kind package for their crew.

But the pilot loss of medical insurance cost payout claim instead then comes direct via the insurance company to yourself (So not first via your employer in this example).

You may think this settlement of your insurance claim was paid tax free to you, as it was triggered by your pilots disability insurance loss of license.

However, this loss of license insurance payment you then receive could then be seen differently by HMRC. It maybe treated as part of your regular income still.

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

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

Note: 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.

tax uk pilot loss of license

What happens to Loss of License Insurance after 3 / 5 years?

Given you have to pass a Class 1 medical annually, some Pilots often get confused here IF their licence is fully or temporarily revoked, and what happens after say that 3 or 5 years period.

Some think they are entitled to get full early retirement pension benefits after this period, even if they are in say their mid 40's - which is usually NOT the case.

Work or Private Pensions are usually not available to access until age 55 onwards.

Others get confused being granted any employee sick leave rights paid from 6 months full pay once joining their employer (but often only after being full employed over 5 years for example).

As explained above, permanent loss of medical insurance for pilots lump sum payouts maybe based on say 3 or 5 x their annual salary ie; 3 or 5 years income.

So they automatically assume therefore if they were looking for further income protection insurances, these must be available only after then waiting another 3 or 5 years (which is not the always the case, as we now explain).

Loss of Pilots License Insurance Payouts (Income or Lump Sum)?

Do you need to be fit to be a Pilot?

Pilots Loss of Licence Lump Sum or Income?

*What happens should you decide to take your loss of license pilots disability insurance as a regular income payout over say 3 or 5 years (instead of lump sum)?

Then if running alongside any other insurers income protection PHI style plans, this loss of license regular return (via income not lump sum payment) will be deducted against PHI insurance cover you are then insured for.

In other words, you "can't be better off sick than working" is the normal insurance phrasing here.

For example, you earn £100,000pa but have your license permanently revoked due to ongoing serious health issues.

You then decide to simply receive 3 years x £100,000 payments paid out as a regular income instead (BUT not a one off £300,000 lump sum).

As your longer term back up plan, you may also have taken out critical illness or income protection insurance based on your £100,000 salary - which the Insurers would have paid out tax free to you.

Note: the Insurers as a technicality (for income protection only) will now add both loss of licence income & income protection regular insurance amounts together initially.

Insurers may then state for next 3 years say, they may not fully pay your monthly income protection benefits yet, as you were still receiving an existing ongoing income (albeit it was via the pilot loss of license lump sum but repaid as income).

Confusingly here, if you take the critical illness monies or loss of licence as lump sums (but invest either for an ongoing income instead), then currently that is okay and not seen as mix of interests re HMRC.

What's Loss of License Insurance for Commercial Pilots?

Chances of making a insurance claim | Uk Life Insurance Quotes > 15 secs

Note: All pilots insurance schemes will vary, but typically are either classed as Permanent or Temporary Total Disablement re Loss of Licence.

Some schemes if so may pay a single one off maximum lump sum benefit re Loss of Licence due to Permanent Total Disablement (PTD).

This could be limited to a multiple of your annual salary, or alternatively a maximum sum assured of say £700,000.

The lump sum benefit for illness or injury the typical insurance wording states "from which there is no prospect of sufficient recovery to resume the duties of an airline pilot".

Loss of Pilots licence insurance due to a Temporary Total Disablement (TTD), if selected instead pays a small % of the Lump Sum amount for say up to 24 / 36 months.

Importantly here, any monthly benefits received will be deducted from that total lump sum payable.

The Pilot Loss of Licence Insurance Temporary Total Disablement (TTD) benefit is usually limited upto 75% of pre-disability income.

What Does Loss of Licence Insurance Cover?

airline pilots insurance uk

Typical Loss of Pilots License Insurance Annual Sum Assured

pilot loss of licence insurance uk vs 'Income Protection for Pilots'pilot loss of licence insurance uk vs 'Income Protection for Pilots'pilot loss of licence insurance uk vs 'Income Protection for Pilots'
> 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: This payout example means at claim it is based upon your age then (not when you originally took the policy out)

How do you lose your Pilot's License?

There are many scenario's where you could lose your valuable commercial aircraft pilots licence status. A few CAA medical examples are below and all may affect any future insurance claims.

*Medical Health Problems

Unfortunately, various serious medical health problems may cause you to sadly fail those extensive annual Class 1 medical exams.

This may include certain heart related issues, worsening vision or hearing, recurrent migraines and even some common allergies that could all make you unfit for purpose.

*Eye Conditions

While many pilots can successfully fly with contacts or glasses for 20/20 vision (and a spare backup pair), other vision problems may prevent you from re-qualifying.

Indeed sunglasses are often recommended as an important piece of protective equipment in the cockpit environment as evidence suggest that a proportion of airline cockpit windshields transmit some ultraviolet (UV) radiation.

During your medical exams, your eyes will be tested for their overall vision. If you have substandard vision even in one eye after assessment, you maybe unable to continue flying.

*Mental Health

Commercial airline pilots job role can be mentally grueling as you know, and if you are seen as being able to continue performing your job.

The mental stress of having many lives continually in your hands, working those odd hours. Constantly changing time zones, being regularly away from your family or friends… this list goes on.

*Drugs & Drink

Most Airline Pilots are naturally subject drug and alcohol testing.

No good turning up daily to fly being high or being drunk & then expecting both your work colleagues and passengers to not rely 100% on your professionalism.

Any failed drug or drink tests are naturally going to be bad news for any commercial airline pilots, and may well prevent you from re-obtaining your annual pilots license.

class 1 medical certificate for pilot | pilots income protection quotes

What's Income Protection Insurance for Pilots?

Do Permanent Health Insurance (PHI) for an aircraft pilot schemes vary... or are they offering the same protection cover levels?

Why are some pilots income protection policies more expensive than others? Do you need both Pilots Loss of Licence Insurance & Income Protection?

All these are key questions when looking into these types of income insurance coverage.

So we will now examine in this article - the importance of getting the correct airline pilot disability insurance wordings.

We will also now look at the key differences between "Pilot's loss of license insurance" & "Income protection for pilots"

Especially if perhaps pilot loss of license insurance costs is a non contributory staff benefit rather than an additional paid for cost option.

As a commercial Airline Pilot whether regularly flying all those major airline manufacturers such as Airbus, Boeing, Bombardier or Embraer - it is important insurer's may offer the correct insurance claim terms.

Commercial Airline Pilots Income Protection Insurance

AIG life insurance and Pilots loss of License Insuranceaviva pilots life insuranceGuardian 1821 pilots loss of licence insuranceHolloway Friendly Income Protection for Pilots Loss of Licence Insurancelegal general life insuranceLV PHI Income Protection for Pilots
British Friendly Income Protection for Pilotsroyal london pilot loss of licence insuranceVitality Life Insurance for Airline Pilots
Compare Broker Pilots Loss of Licence Insurance Deals: July 2024 >

Typical Key Features

  • Designed to pay out a 💯 100% Tax Free Income to help cover lost salary/income as a Airline Pilot
  • Usually has a initial waiting or deferred / waiting periods from 4/8/13/26/52 weeks 
  • These deferral periods maybe based around existing work sick pay eg; paid after 13/26 weeks
  • If you then receive ongoing 1/2 sickpay eg; 3/6 months, cover level will be based around this
  • Insurance benefits are currently paid tax free on claim until you return to work or plan end date
  • Insurers Plan vary but may usually run upto age 65 ie; Pilots retirement age
  • Income Insurance Benefits may be level or inflation linked from outset or on claim
  • Medical evidence is usually required for underwritten insurance before terms offered
  • Cover levels vary but may be based on maximum of upto 65% of your gross annual earnings
  • Insurers can also vary their limits on that maximum cover they may insure upto
  • Waiver of Premium means also you don't have to pay the premiums in claim
  • 'Back to Work' & 'Proportionate Benefits' terms will vary between UK Insurers
  • Death benefits (if included) may only mean a lump sum sufficient for funeral costs or return of some premiums
  • Require UK residency typically for upto 2 years prior to starting insurance coverage

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

Note: You cannot be better of sick than well, so UK Insurers will limit cover levels allowable based on their all risks for commercial airline pilots.

Main Types of Pilots Income Protection - Loss of License

*Budget Income Protection

  • Budget cover may only payout for a set time period on any claim
  • Paid claims maybe upto 12 | 24 | 60 months (ie; limited claim term)
  • Premiums may be cheaper annually age-costed / 5 yearly reviewable or fixed
  • Invariably this type of plan is cheaper...because it won't payout longer term
  • Be aware of am inferior any occupation wording terms here
  • 'Back to work benefits' that may only cover you for upto 1 year
  • If you get another job 'proportionate cover' for just 12 months & not full claim

*Comprehensive Income Protection

  • Covers you until you get better so return to flying
  • Or full term ie; you maybe never go back to being a pilot
  • Protects you on an ‘own occupation basis’
  • Premiums may be fixed none-reviewable (unless inflation linked) or cheaper annually age costed

Remember, most loss of Pilots License insurance is in fact a type of budget income salary protection.

In other words, it's usually only covering you for an 'agreed sum' or based on a 'multiple of annual income' if you lose your pilot's licence.

So therefore it is NOT a full lifetime payout re pilot loss of licence insurance uk income upto retirement.

Pilots Income Insurance | Underwriting Issues

Pilot Loss of Licence Insurance & Income Protection

You pay a monthly premium for Pilots Income Protection during the term of the policy.

This as explained above can be cheaper age-costed cover, meaning it's reviewable & so it will increase as you get older but which maybe still a good value option.

Or more expensive non-reviewable cover premiums. However, costs overall will depend mainly on:-

# Your Age – at the policy start ie; older pilots maybe more likely to suffer an illness, so pay more accordingly
# Your Gender – being male or female no longer affects insurance rates wef 2012 via all UK Income Insurers
# Your Health – if any health is poor eg; high BMI Kg or Diabetes you may have to pay abit more or have exclusions applied
# Your Occupation – Pilots static working role & travelling in a metal tube high in the sky chances to contribute towards illness
# Hobbies and lifestyle – for example, solo private flying or aerobatics is high risk, so may pay more or even refused
# Smoker Status – as smoking makes you more likely to make a health claim, you will pay more than a none smoker
# Deferred Waiting period – once you claim, there is a delay before payments start.

You can choose how long this deferred 'wait period' is eg; from 13 weeks if your airline employer sick pay only 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 income protection cover.

Income Protection For Pilots > PHI Quotes 15 secs

UK Insurers for Pilots Loss of Income Insurance

Given the overall medical fitness requirements to become & maintain status to being a pilot, for income insurance risk purposes strangely therefore many mainstream UK Insurers have withdrawn offering Commercial Airline pilot income protection insurance terms in 2024.

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 not direct but broker only deals.

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

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

Likewise, an Insurer can also premium rate those who may 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 UK marketplace maybe far wider.

What does Pilots Income Protection Insurance Cost?

So, that is the million pound question & if looking at the similar example above for loss of license insurance for pilots.

Aircraft Pilot age 45 earning @ £100k pa income. If you then worked (or had to retire instead due to ill health) for the next 20 years until retirement, you could potentially earn over £2 million gross ie; £100kpa x 20 years [or more with any future inflation wage rises].

So doing a typical quote for income protection insurance for pilots calculation: £100k x 65% = @£65,000 x 20 years = £1.3 million (if level cover on claim) or maybe @ £1.5 million + with wage rises discussed via BALPA.

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

Loss of Pilots Licence | Own Occupation v Any Occupation?

Be aware if looking that the best classification for Pilots income protection should be 'unable to do own occupation' job role 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 we believe 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.

Note: If you are still able to work again later on but perhaps in a lesser paid occupation, some insurers may then only pay you a proportionate benefit ie; the difference between the 2 incomes.

That 'Back to Work' or 'Proportionate Benefit' also varies between Providers. Be aware, some Insurer's may offer this payment for the claim duration & others for just 12 months.

So always get professional broker advice here. The devil is always in the insurance wordings!

This means 💯 100% being unable to perform your specific pilots job role under best insurance terms via "Own Occupation" status ie; unable to be a pilot flying an aircraft.

But NOT insured instead if you have bought inferior insurance terms on a suited or any occupation status, which is unhelpful given your salary & status.

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

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

  • Example: Airline Pilot Steve aged 50, general fit & healthy & non smoker
  • Intended to fly until retirement age 65 (in 15 years time)
  • Earning around £95k pa income & in employers pension scheme
  • His main employer airline covers him for 13 weeks sickness pay, then nothing
  • Unable to access any early retirement pension benefits until age 65 normal retirement age

So Pilot Steve has to now stop working - due to various ongoing health issues. Example Case discussed with is employers & also BALPA. Here are some typical loss of Class 1 medical insurance for pilots license scenarios....

PHI Income Protection for Pilots | ExampleLoss of Licence Insurance for Pilots | Example
* Pilot Steve age 50 | 15 years claim maximum allowable* Pilot Steve age 50 | 2 x annual salary claim maximum
* Cover available for airline pilots to age 60* Pilot Loss of Licence Insurance often only available upto age 54
* Maximum Payout £925k (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* Pilots Loss of Licence Insurance 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 @£2200 (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 protection insurance product is better than the other & ideally you should consider both. Pilots loss of licence for a lump sum & income protection for ongoing income - budgets permitting

There are only certain insurers who offer either insurance contracts to Pilots & their terms may all vary. So we have summarized & highlighted typical key features & 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.

*What's Martin Lewis say on Income Protection Insurance?

martin lewis insurance review

Money Saving Expert Martin Lewis says YES it’s worth looking into PHI Income Protection Insurance. 

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

Unsure if what they meant here, is if you could be off sick for a year or two...because as insurance brokers we find many Insurers do 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 your essential spending is covered.

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

Martin generally says insurance is a cheap financial lifeline, but the ultimate choice is always yours. They don't mention pilot loss of licence insurance here specifically, but just generalize on this income insurance type.

The MoneySavingExpert also says when it comes to deciding between the two types of illness insurance ie; income protection or critical illness, then it could be worth speaking to a financial adviser.

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

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

Lastly, the MoneySavingExpert also said generally remember, not all insurers plans are featured on those insurance comparison sites. We would agree here & especially for Pilot loss of licence insurance compensation - 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.

what is critical illness coverage ?

Pilots Loss of License | Critical Illness Insurance instead?

Critical illness cover for Airline 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 all 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 or alternative back up plan to Income Protection Insurance – as it usually gives Lump Sum option. But it is not a substitute for pilots health insurance.

However, many basic critical illness schemes if comparing against is loss of license insurance worth it, may similarly only payout the once at claim & then end.

Unlike income protection, that may potentially payout multiple times for all different claims, over your entire flying career & which are not listed in a critical illness plan.

So for example, there are various common situations when critical illness cover 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 fully covered. For example, some lesser forms / early stages of cancer maybe not covered by Insurers as Martin Lewis also comments on.

Note: Lifecover & critical illness cover should not be confused with terminal illness, for any commercial pilot insurance if concerned can a pilot license be revoked?

Terminal illness benefit is usually automatically included within a life insurance policy and means you will not survive, as you sadly cannot be cured.

Airline Pilot Life Insurance

'Pilot Income Protection Insurance'

Given regular health checks are done, do life insurance policies cover pilots? Yes it's 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.


For Martin Lewis on Life Insurance, his life insurance advice is for a good rule of thumb use the 'THE 10 x INCOME 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 £100k per annum gross, he says you should maybe consider insuring yourself (after any mortgage, loans & debts are repaid) for @ £1 million life insurance for airline pilots (ie; 10 x the annual gross income).

Interestingly, he recommends just insuring your gross income of £100kpa - but not get complicated with calculating net after tax incomes

As such, unlike the 10 x £100k gross salary insurance example - you could instead protect your family with either;

  1. Income = £8,333pm or £100k pa family income benefit lifecover policy
  2. Lump sum = £2.0 million level term life insurance coverage [if invested @5% = £100k 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...

pilots disability insurance That is to ideally 'Protect 3 Things'...

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

Pilots Insurance UK - Loss of License: Case Study

The Trials of John Browne*

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...What do I do if I lost my Pilot's License?

John Browne is age 44, a Senior Captain Airline Pilot with a major well known carrier, earning £152,000pa. He has various employee benefits like sick pay, life insurance & pensions.

He is married to wife Sarah age 45, who is a self employed yoga teacher on around £25,000pa.

The Browne's have 2 young dependant children aged 7 & 9, who they're currently putting both through private school education, which isn't cheap.

As John usually flies from Heathrow, the Browne family all now live near Slough in Berks. Having all relocated from Glasgow over 3 years ago, as this was most convenient for his usual work schedule.

Unfortunately, their own families parents still both live in Scotland. So they don't often get to see their grand kids nowadays, since having all moved down South.

Plus John's father who was now in his late 60's had retired due to various heart related issues, which played on his mind as well.

His mother was also suffering with a bad back & arthritis, so she couldn't really help him like she once did. This played on his mind alot.

John has 2 older brothers & a younger sister, whom are all married now. They have also all moved a distance well away from their parents in the Glasgow area.

Turning to financial matters, the Browne's have a £415,000 repayment mortgage with around 20 years left.

This also ties in roughly with his likely rather than expected retirement age 65, which wasn't ideal. But as his father told him matter of factly, having children is expensive.

This is on a 5 year fixed rate mortgage via his own high street bank. They have still got this at a low 1.79% deal, and with around 2 years left on that rate.

John had worked for another major airline several years ago, which unfortunately had gone bust & thus leaving them in a difficult financial position for quite a while.

This caused him undoubted stress for several months until he found a new position, as he was also in competition for other pilots jobs along with many of his redundant colleagues.

Then the pandemic came along as well out of the blue, which didn't help his stress levels either. If it wasn't one thing it was the other, as his mum used to say.

Since then, John was abit more careful he thought with their money. For example, their family BMW Estate car was not a new one, but nearly 8 years old.

He therefore always looked out for cheaper value finance deals online, or looked into those that were e-mailed to him by Money Saving Expert or similar.

So rather than just taking out what their banks mortgage adviser had initially offered him, which he found was clearly more expensive than what he'd seen.

After he had worked for that previous airline and having to move home, he had planned more sensibly he felt with his own families financial future.

Preferring to rely now on his own judgement & make his own decisions, like he regularly did as a pilot. Plus, there was so much opportunity online nowadays to get value deals.

John had therefore taken out himself both an income protection & critical illness lifecover insurance plan, to help cover their £415,000 as mortgage protection.

He also had a pilots loss of license insurance, which his previous employers had provided access to as a non contributory benefit.

John had agreed to take this over & keep this on direct now as a ongoing employee benefit. He remembered looking back at the original paperwork, which covered him for upto 5 x salary.

Although the Insurers had written to him over the years for various reasons, including a change of Providers taking over these old plans, amended T&C's and various other stuff.

John carefully filed all the mountains of paperwork he had on all these various insurance policies which he had kept going.

A while back, he had re-looked online at the costs to consider replacing them but all seemed to be alot more expensive than he was paying.

Anyway, other fellow pilots had told him that they were paying much more for their income insurance cover, so he'd stick to what he had.

They also told him they were getting 6 months full sick pay, and then ongoing financial benefits for upto 5 years.

Perhaps they were on a different contracts but he didn't want to pry or to talk about his salary, just in case they were on less.

He had just finished a long flight and slowly got back into his BMW to drive back home that night. He was tired, and his vision was feeling it as he hit another flipping pothole driving back home.

John then remembered, he had 2 MOT's coming up this week - the BMW was first thing tomorrow, and then his annual Class 1 Medical for Pilot Licence later that day.

Early the following morning, he took his car in take the MOT. After hanging around town for an hour waiting for the garage to call him, only to be told it had failed.

Unfortunately, those potholes had damaged his suspension somehow. So the garage would need to order up various BMW parts, which could take a while & they weren't cheap.

He called his wife to pick him up and take him along to his Class 1 Medical, but he forgot she was busy with clients it seemed.

Tired, grumpy and feeling off with a migraine developing, he instead ordered for an uber taxi to take him direct to the Heathrow Medical Centre. He cursed his bad luck.

When he arrived for his annual pilots medical test, he calmed himself down and sat in the lobby, awaiting his turn.

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After 15 minutes, the receptionist called him in. John met the usual specialist medicals doctor he had seen before at these annual pilots health tests.

They chatted for abit, and John explained what had happened with his BMW failing the MOT, due to the council not filling in the numerous potholes.

They both said it was lucky that Heathrow runway wasn't run by the council, as it maybe full of potholes.

The Doctor asked John how he felt generally. He said he was okay but sometimes feeling a little tired of late and associated any symptoms with those early mornings & late night flights.

After performing well for a full ECG, lung & various other blood tests, things seemed to be going okay.

He asked him about his family history, and John said his oldest brother & father both had raised cholesterol.

His dad had heart issues in his mid 60's and mum was suffering from arthritis related problems. H noted this all down.

Next came the usual eye check, when after a few minutes the Doctor suddenly stopped. He asked John how he felt his overall vision was, as there seemed to be a problem.

John said cautiously there had been a few incidences lately of blurry vision.

This occurred only maybe after coming home late nights flying & when it appeared to get abit worse, especially when he was tired.

He thought that was perhaps normal for people wearing prescription glasses. Explaining he also wanted to change his glasses anyway for a more modern pair, when they would check his vision and amend his prescription as necessary.

The Doctor then slowly advised him the real reason was because it seems he had suffered a retinal vein occlusion in his right eye.

He explained that an Occlusion (blockage in the eye) of the retinal vein, is a common cause of sudden painless reduction in vision in some people. 

It may also cause ongoing migraines & could be worse when it was darker, due to the lack of light entering his eye.

His vision in one eye was also now just below the legal limits required by the CAA plus any repeated migraines would also mean if he was thinking, how do you lose your pilot's license.

The doctor said off experience with other pilots, he thought it wasn't sadly something that could be operated on or corrected by any special glasses etc;

The type of retinal vein occlusion also looked like he may never gain full 100% sight in his right eye, or sufficient enough to legally carry on flying.

Unfortunately, he explained to John he would have to fail his pilots medical. The doctor then said he would have to advise John's employers.

He kindly said this meant as it hit him, that he would not be able to continue to fly for the time being & maybe never again.

John came away in a daze, literally. He called his wife Sarah but found her mobile went to ansaphone again.

So he called another Uber taxi driver on his smart phone. The chap chatted to him once driving home & it seems they also had to take some sort of annual medical licence to keep their driving licence, similar to Lorry HGV drivers they said.

The bloke said he understood exactly what he was going through. He nodded only but never really said a word.

After arriving home, he found a load of unopened bills on the front doorstep. He opened the various letters to see what was owed, and to whom.

One was from his car insurance company for the BMW. Typical, his premiums had gone up. He guessed he would have to tell them & the DVLA about his eye sight.

That was going to cause him more problems. The other bill included next terms' private school fees for his 2 children, plus an enclosed leaflet.

This was timely offering, recommending payment protection insurance coverage for his educational school fees, against things like accident, sickness & redundancy.

Then another from the Insurance Company he had his critical illness with. They said his premiums were going up after a review, which he thought meant it must have been inflation linked, so that was good he supposed ie; more cover upon a claim.

John then called his boss and his works personnel section to explain. They told him as he had worked there now for 3 years, they stated he would be entitled to get 3 months sickpay leave.

They currently had no suitable vacancies for his type of work experience, or offering anywhere like the amount of salary he had been on & his lifestyle had got used to.

Should he also have to sadly leave, only his 3 years pension benefits accrued so far would all be preserved until age 65.

Meanwhile, he was still trying to clearly find out what happened to all his previous employers accrued pension benefits, after they went bust.

He then pours himself a stiff drink and goes searching for his various insurance policies. At least he had all those to help look after his financial dependants.

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John firstly called the pilots loss of license insurance company to fully explain his case and get a claims form sent.

The adviser explained as he was now 44, he was entitled to 3 x salary based cover...so not the 5 x salary he thought he had originally insured for.

When querying this, they kindly then said as you got older the insurance cover amounts reduced, usually as the pilots salary increased.

They also explained that in their various amended T&C's letter they had posted him over the years, those original insurers no longer offered this type of full cover.

So therefore his ongoing loss of licence policy terms were still based on a temporary loss of pilots license, not permanent.

Also they explained, it was just limited to his original base trainee pilots salary with the previous airline.

They said for some reason he had never recontacted & advised them of any change of his work circumstances, despite their letters pointing this out in their small print.

This also meant they advised him, he would be entitled to ONLY get 3 x £35,000pa on his Pilot Loss of Licence Insurance ie; £105,000 total, if indeed his pilots license was officially revoked for 36 months for not flying.

They give him an option of a 100% lump sum payment upfront (which he decided was best option to take) & they confirm his address to send the settlement claim forms out to.

Alternatively, they said he could have taken this Pilot Loss of Licence Insurance amount, but paid back out monthly for upto 36 months instead.

He finishes that call & puts the phone down shaking. He just couldn't believe it his bad luck, and gets himself another stiff drink to drown his sorrows.

John then called his income protection insurers and their claims section...he kept his fingers crossed.

At least, he had been sensible enough to also take this salary insurance cover as well, back when taking their mortgage out a few years ago.

This he hoped would now kick in and payout him out cover based around both his mortgage payments & gross salary of £150,000.

John had taken this income protection policy out online, like the other mortgage protection plans & when they moved down south to Slough.

He had covered himself for £5,000pm index linked, paid out after 1 month wait. Plus he remembered it was paid out tax free as well, which was good.

After finally getting through to their claims handlers, he tried his best to explain his health and work situation to their claims section.

They listened & then advised him his existing income protection insurance contract terms were only based on a claim currently for being unable to work again on a 'ANY Occupation Basis' ...not an 'OWN Occupation Basis' for being a Pilot.

They said sorry, but they didn't offer that Own Occupation wording on their insurance policies, or for people being unable to continue working as an Airline Pilot

This meant he would NOT currently be able to make a successful claim for the end of his flying career, and subsequent loss of pilots license being revoked.

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John then finally realised his current flying career had probably just gone done the tubes. As he could still probably hold some other form of other job down, whatever that was. All he had ever known or wanted, was to become an airline pilot.

The Insurers said the plan would only ever payout, if he was advised by a GP that he would be unable to EVER work again, and in any job role (which was not going to be the case for him).

The person also told him the insurance policy would only payout for upto 12 months per claim, mot upto retirement ie; if off work through illness.

They also explained that should he be able to get another lower paid job role, they would just continue to pay him a 'back to work benefit' for 12 months, but that was it.

In other words, the policy he had in place, wasn't even going to be paid upto retirement anyway, if he had been able to make a successful claim.

Or pay him a full 'proportionate benefit'. Meaning if he was earning £152,000pa as a pilot, but his next job meant he now earned only £52,000pa...the Insurers would help cover most of the difference upto retirement.

When he asked why, they said they didn't offer those types of income protection plans due to higher risks....but he was welcome to look elsewhere. Unfortunately, that was all too late now.

It seems he had bought the wrong or cheaper type of income insurance policy. He had never thought to ask for professional advice at the time (or since) on this matter.

Dazed, John then calls up his critical illness insurers and their claims section. What else could go wrong? After waiting 15 minutes listening to music, he finally gets through.

They advise him that a retinal vein eye occlusion is NOT considered a major critical illness, so it's a 'No' to any full £415,000 payout.

This is all dependant upon the type and severity of eye stroke damage he had suffered they said. However, the Insurers state he may possibly receive an additional lump sum of £15,000 instead.

Their policy wording was limited or excluded they point out.... not if there is an occlusion or haemorrhage damage to his branches of the retinal artery or vein in his eye.

He also asked if his critical illness cover was inflation linked, as he just had a letter from them today saying his premiums cost had just gone up.

They said no, that was because he had bought a cheaper reviewable policy, meaning the premiums were not guaranteed & so they could regularly rise.

John is stunned again. The Insurers confirm his home address to send their settlement claim forms out to...but they reclarify, only if his health was considered 'critical enough' to claim for on his insurance policy.

When his wife comes home, John explains the situation and they both burst into tears. What was their family life going to look like soon into the future?

Financially, (if this had not all happened) John realised he could have earned over £3 million+ or more upto his retirement ie; £152,000pa x 20 years earning plus guaranteed pension.

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Looking for more help, John like many pilots, he also discussed his case with BALPA & to see if he could maybe access their benevolent fund?

After their appointment, they referred him instead to an eye specialist. They advise him he had indeed damage to the branches of his retinal artery or vein in his right eye.

This all meant they said his once 20/20 vision or visual acuity of 6/6, was now down to only around 50% in that right eye & this may deteriorate further.

This could have been caused they said either due to chronic stress or raised cholesterol levels, which his blood tests had detected. He was therefore now put onto statins.

During his 3 months paid sick leave & after re-visiting those eye specialists, they sadly confirmed he would unlikely able to ever fly again as a commercial pilot.

John's employers then send him his final leaving severance letter confirmation, with all that financial information he didn't want to see.

Luckily, he reflects is loss of license insurance worth it, given that he had bought it seems all the wrong other cheaper salary insurance cover schemes.

Well as he told his wife that morning, at least he had still got his £105,000 gross payout from his 'Pilot Loss of License Insurance' policy.

John then makes an appointment & visits his bank later that week to advise them of what is all going on in his life business, along with his full insurance cheque payout.

After discussions, he initially intended to use perhaps upto 50% of it to help reduce his mortgage.

The rest is to set aside for the family until he decides what to do. They then may all consider selling up and moving back to Scotland nearer to their families & as it was cheaper up north.

On fully explaining his situation, the assistant bank manager then looks up his mortgage details. She tells him that there is an early repayment charge still applicable on their £415,000 mortgage.

This could cost them nearly £10,000 in early redemption fees, if they decided to pay some or all of it off early. Not news he wanted to hear.

Turning to the insurance monies, she also remarks that although not a tax expert...she says this could potentially be seen as treated as income by the Taxman as a direct benefit & so not 100% tax free.

She said although his original employer provided him with this loss of licence insurance as a benefit, the claim payout was now coming direct via the insurers, and so not therefore via his employer.

This payment may not be seen as a "termination payment" but rather the settlement of his Pilot Loss of Licence Insurance claim & essentially triggered by his loss of licence, hence his job role.

So it may possibly still be subject to highest tax rates, if added alongside his total income for the whole tax year. The bank as always suggested he look into all this with an accountant.

In other words, she said he may well have to write a cheque out to the HMRC taxman person for say £50,000 in due course as well.

As he walked out of the bank he was stunned, depressed & after another stiff drink....Talk about kicking a man when he is down.

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Pilots Loss of Licence Insurance | Case Study Conclusion:

The devil is always in the version of your own insurance policy details. You get what you pay for, even though these scheme types maybe all called the same names.

Cheaper doesn't usually mean better with insurance...it can often just mean cheaper budget coverage.

If looking at any existing income protection insurance cover for example....check is it a full in-claim upto retirement comprehensive coverage OR say limited to a 1 year per claim budget payout?

Does it run upto retirement age 65, or only when you hopefully intended to retire say age 55 meaning possible 10 years gap, if claimed on for any pension shortfalls?

Is it paid out comprehensively if unable to do your "Own Occupation" OR only say upon unable to do "Any Occupation" limited payout? Is the cover level or inflation linked? Is it guaranteed premiums OR reviewable?

Comprehensive coverage are the best T&C wordings for any pilots income protection insurance cover in 2024.

Re any tax on claim, it would usually depend on who paid the insurance policy, who the insured party is (i.e. the employer or the pilot) and the exact wording in the contract regarding this likelihood.

Lots of important questions means if unsure about the types of best loss of license insurance for pilots, don't assume they are all the same.

Or if protecting your pilots income & families livelihood that having only 1 insurance policy - is the only policy and best way forwards.

It's always good to talk to a professional broker or agent for your best financial advice here.

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

Whether that be 'loss of pilots licence' alongside income protection, critical illness & 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 'Pilots Loss of Licence Insurance' by Martyn Spencer Financial Adviser (2024)

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