A federal court in Virginia recently held that the Virginia Omnibus Statute, which requires liability policies covering the use of aircraft to insure the named insured and any person using the aircraft with the consent of the named insured, did not apply to first-party claims for damages. Corradi v. Old United Casualty Company, No. 1:15-cv-488, 2015 WL 8489966 (E.D. Va. Dec. 8, 2015).
The insured’s insurer denied an aircraft owner’s claim for damage to his aircraft sustained when the aircraft crashed. At the time, the aircraft was not being piloted by a named insured but instead was being piloted by a third party with the consent of the owner. The insurer denied coverage because although the pilot had the insured’s consent to operate the aircraft, he did not meet the subject policy’s definition of an “Approved Pilot.”
The owner attempted to bring his claim under the protection of Virginia’s Omnibus Statute, which requires liability policies covering the use of aircraft to insure not just the named insured but also any person using the aircraft with the named insured’s consent. However, the express terms of the Omnibus Statute limit its application only to a policy covering liability arising from the ownership, maintenance, or use of any aircraft. The owner argued that, although his claim was for first-party damage to his aircraft, there was a third party injured by the crash who could make a claim. The court noted that there was no third party actually alleging damages, and that the owner could not assert a third-party claim against himself merely to bring his claim under the Omnibus Statute. The decision is being appealed.