Aircraft Insurance - minimum insurance requirements for aircraft operators and carriers

Regulation (EC) No 785/2004 (as amended by Regulation (EU) No 285/2010) applies to all air carriers and to all aircraft  operators flying within, into, out of or over the territory of an EC Member State to which the Treaty applies.  Its objective is to establish minimum insurance requirements for air carriers and aircraft operators in respect of passengers, baggage, cargo and third parties including cover for risks of war and terrorism.  This EC Regulation and the UK Regulations supporting its implementation (The Civil Aviation (Insurance) Regulations 2005) come into force on 30 April 2005.  What is excluded?

The EC Regulation does not apply to:

  •  State aircraft;
  •  Model aircraft less than 20kg;
  •  Foot launched flying machines;
  •  Captive balloons;
  •  Kites;
  •  Parachutes, including parascending parachutes.

Minimum Levels of Insurance Cover

The minimum levels of insurance cover required is dependent upon the number of passengers carried and in relation to third party cover the MTOM (Maximum Take Off Mass) of the aircraft concerned.  There is also a requirement for cover in respect of baggage and cargo and in certain cases to insure against war and terrorism (the latter generally known as war risk cover).
Third Party Insurance - The Regulation identifies 10 categories of aircraft dependent upon MTOM:
Details of the minimum level of cover required.

War Risk - With the exception of aircraft, including gliders, with a MTOM less than 500kg used solely for a non-commercial purpose or local instruction which does not entail crossing international borders, War Risk insurance is required for all aircraft and is set at the same levels as those set for Third Party insurance.

Passenger Liability - The minimum level of insurance cover required is 250,000 SDRs per passenger, apart from aircraft of less than 2700kgs engaged in non commercial operations where a minimum of 100,000 SDRs per passenger has been agreed by the Department for Transport.  Whilst most aircraft will have a generic passenger capacity, aircraft operators may declare the maximum number of passengers that they will carry and insure accordingly.  If more than that declared number of passengers is later found being carried it will be a breach of the Regulations and may result in prosecution.

Baggage Liability - The minimum insurance cover shall be 1,131 SDRs per passenger.

Cargo Liability - The minimum insurance cover shall be 19 SDRs per kilogram of cargo. 

Combined Single Limit. 

Many operators choose to buy insurance on a combined single limit basis.  When doing so they should ensure that the amount covers the different categories identified above.

How do I calculate the level required?

A calculator to assist in assessing the level of cover you require is at Calculator.  Note it is for the air carrier and aircraft operator to satisfy itself that the level of cover it has in place is sufficient to meet the requirements Council Regulation 785/2004.

It should be noted that the estimate is based on a calculation that takes into account the following variable items:

  • The maximum take-off mass of the aircraft – taken from the details held by the CAA from the aircraft’s flight manual or from another CAA derived source (see below).
  • The number of passengers carried - either the number declared by the operator or air carrier (if supplied), or the design maximum number of passengers for the aircraft.
  • The exchange rate from SDR’s (Special Drawing Rights) to Pounds Sterling taken from the IMF website on the date given.

It should be noted that no estimate of the minimum requirements in respect of cargo is given as no centrally held data concerning cargo capacity is held.  It should also be noted that as the estimates given are based on a number of variable items, if any of the items used in the calculation are incorrect then this will affect the amounts quoted.

The following link will take you to G-INFO which is the CAA’s aircraft register and which will provide details of all current aircraft on the UK register and amongst other things the weight of a specific aircraft.

Exchange Rate

The CAA has agreed that operators that cannot buy cover in SDRs may buy a currency equivalent (e.g. Sterling or Dollars) and that the exchange rate prevailing at inception will be considered sufficient during the period of the policy.  Operators are reminded however it is for the air carrier and aircraft operator to satisfy itself that the level of cover it has in place is sufficient to meet the requirements of Council Regulation 785/2004.


The Civil Aviation Authority has been designated as the enforcement body for this Regulation within the United Kingdom by the Department for Transport.  A copy of the Statement of Agreed Practice between the parties can be seen here.

Further Information

Your broker should be aware of the requirements of this Regulation and initial queries should be directed to them.  However additional information and FAQs on insurance can be found on the Aircraft Registration website. 

Brokers and insurers may wish to note that there is a model certificate that the CAA can provide which they may find helpful.  Brokers or insurers certifying insurance cover for either UK Air Transport or Operating Licence holders (i.e. Commercial Operators) will still need to complete an ATL28 on such operators behalf.  

Further information or guidance can be obtained from

Non Commercial Operators

Aircraft Registration Section
Civil Aviation Authority
45-59 Kingsway

Telephone:  (020) 7453 6666
Fax:   (020) 7453 6670

Commercial Operators

Airline Licensing & Consumer Issues
Civil Aviation Authority
45-59 Kingsway

Telephone:  (020) 7453 6330
Fax:   (020) 7453 6322