How often do we have low clouds in Michigan? Well... pretty often. An instrument rating teaches you and enables you to fly in those clouds, rain, snow, or even fog. But flying in and out of foggy airports isn't necessarily the only advantage of having the instrument rating... Although they may not stop you from flying out to the practice area at lower altitudes, those cross country flights just are not as fun when you can't get above them. There in lies the added value of an instrument rating, not to go fly in the clouds all day, but to get above them! If you're ever gloomy and down because you haven't seen the sun in days, the instrument rating is you ticket to getting above the clouds and into the sun. After all, it's always sunny at some altitude.
An instrument rating requires the 3 basic components as the private pilot certificate. Because it is a rating, or an additional skill, it is added to your private pilot certificate after you complete your checkride.