Life insurance for high risk occupations is an increasingly demanding arena in the life insurance industry. As more data is found on the inherent higher risks of certain occupations, insurance companies are less likely to insure the life of an individual in a certain occupation without extensive underwriting or significantly higher premiums. Some insurance companies won’t even take on the applicant at all.
The Bureau Of Labor Statistics, an arm of the U.S. Department of Labor, accumulates data of how risky certain occupation types are, and how likely it is a worker of the industry with incur a fatal accident while on the job. Among some of the riskiest are fishing, mining, transportation and warehousing, and construction.* Police officers, fire fighters, and even nurses could be considered high risk.
Insurance companies use this data to determine the odds someone will have a fatal accident while at work separate from their current health. In other words, if you are healthy but work in a dangerous industry, you may find it difficult to get accepted for life insurance. If you are unhealthy and work in a dangerous industry, it’s two strikes against you, and you may not qualify at all. Your health and your occupation are mutually exclusive as the insurance company must take into account all possibilities before issuing a policy.
Other industries might include aircraft pilots, active duty military (both national and international), drivers (taxi, semi-truck and delivery drivers), farmers, roofers and electrical workers. Occupational hazards are those which might occur while on the job only, and unrelated to hazardous activities such as hang gliding, scuba diving, sky diving, rock climbing, motorcycle and vehicle racing, unless your occupation requires you to do so on a normal work day. Anyone with a DUI or DWI is also at risk for higher premiums.
The good news is you can still get life insurance despite working in a dangerous field (no pun intended to farmers). The bad news is you may end up paying an arm a leg (okay, pun intended this time). Insurance companies are willing to take on a higher risk, but they will attribute a higher premium to your policy and may also restrict the size of the death benefit, as well. You may be required to answer additional questions regarding your occupation, such as:
Even if you are still declined, you may have some options for coverage. While it may not be exactly what you’re looking for, you might still be able to get a guaranteed life insurance policy, which is usually a policy with lesser death benefit and high premium. These types of policies are issued with absolute minimal underwriting, and sometimes not even a paramedical exam.
There are also companies who will insurance abnormally high risk or take on unique situations, such as Lloyd’s of London, but you will definitely pay an extraordinarily high premium.
Ideally, apply before you ever take the job! While you can’t plan this way in every situation, it’s always best to consider getting a long duration policy before you ever start a job which comes with a high risk element. You may even need to purchase the policy as far as 12 or 24 months ahead of time as some companies’ applications ask whether or not you plan to engage in any dangerous occupations in the near future. Planning ahead and being proactive is always a best practice.
You should also consult an independent agent who can view offers from many carriers. Not every insurance company has the same underwriting practices, and some are significantly more lenient than others. This will not only get you the opportunity for coverage from multiple carriers, but give you the chance to find the lowest premium as well.
Be sure to be as honest as possible on the application, and disclose as much information as possible. While you may have to fight the urge of full disclosure because you want the insurance policy, the insurance company may hold the right to withhold proceeds should you pass away from an occupation you said you didn’t hold.
See our complete list of conditions we insure for more.
*Information regarding occupational hazards from NATIONAL CENSUS OF FATAL OCCUPATIONAL INJURIES IN 2011 (PRELIMINARY RESULTS)