While most Americans work in the comfort of retail stores or office buildings, many people labor in more unconventional settings. Many people are employed in industries such as mining and commercial fishing—which are among the most dangerous professions.
Because these jobs are relatively dangerous, it can be more difficult and costly to obtain a life insurance policy. Not to worry though—because we have some tips to help you find an affordable life policy that meets your needs.
Life Insurance and Risk
The purpose of life insurance is to provide your beneficiaries with monetary compensation if something were to happen you. There are two main types—term and whole life insurance.
Term life insurance covers you for a pre-determined period of time, like 10, 20, or 30 years. If you pass away within this period of time, your beneficiaries receive monetary compensation. If you don’t, your beneficiaries don’t receive anything.
Whole life covers you for life. It also accrues a cash value you can borrow against.
If you pose a major risk of dying when you purchase a life insurance policy, the insurer may deny you coverage, or at least charge you higher premiums.
That’s because the insurance company stands to pay your beneficiaries a large sum of money should you die.
Insurers use a variety of factors to determine your rates. The most common include your height and weight, gender, family history, medical history, tobacco use, place of residence, and career. We’ll focus on the career aspect.
Whether by choice or necessity, many people end up in high risk professions. And these jobs make it more difficult to purchase an affordable life policy.
What makes a job high risk is that it puts your life in danger daily. You might not consider it particularly dangerous. However, your insurance company will be the judge of that.
According to Chris Huntley, President of Huntley Wealth & Insurance Services, “Insurance companies use rating factors derived from reports from the U.S. Department of Labor Statistics that provide detailed information and injury/death statistics per occupation.”
They tend to classify certain jobs as posing the most risk because of their fatality rates.
Maksim Netrebov is an independent financial planner from Maks Financial Services & WealthIQ.com. He says, “[With] life insurance, the actuaries are going to base [rates] off of health factors rather than your chosen career. There are a few exceptions though, namely the few careers where you put your life on the line on a daily basis.”
The jobs that most commonly raise your rates include: commercial fishermen, construction workers, underground miners, truck drivers, loggers, farmers, and electrical power line workers.
Netrebov also notes that police officers, professional competitors such as race car drivers, certain pilots, boat racers, and deep water scuba divers also tend to have higher premiums.
But even though these jobs may cause you to pay more for life insurance, it doesn’t mean there isn’t any hope. There are alternatives.
You can always start by using QuoteWizard to be matched with life insurers that best fit your needs.
Purchasing a Policy
Insurers typically determine the price of your policy through a classification system. You’ll get a medical exam and be asked some questions about your family history and lifestyle.
Then, insurers will place you in a category based on the risk of insuring you. From most superior to least, they are: preferred select, preferred, standard plus, standard, preferred smoker, or standard smoker.
If you don’t fit into one of these categories, or you pose more risk, you’ll be rated using the table rating system. You will receive a number or letter based on how much risk you pose, and will have to pay an extra percentage, on top of your premiums.
It varies by insurer, but some companies will deny you if you’re in a high risk occupation. Others will be more lenient. They’ll just charge you higher rates using the table rating system to offset your risk.
Huntley says, “The cost of life insurance from one rating classification to the next is equivalent to roughly a 25% increase in the cost.”
If you’re not happy with the way the insurer ranked you, and want to pay less for a policy, there are alternatives.
Netrebov gives examples of two. They are:
Exclude Your Job
Some insurers may allow you to buy a policy, but make you exclude your job from the list of causes that allow your beneficiaries to receive death benefits.
According to Netrebov, “If the carrier allows it, you would take the exclusion. Meaning, if you die doing one of those activities, you would not be covered, but all other causes would be covered.”
This is the act of an insurance company purchasing insurance from another company that deals with high risk situations. They do this to mitigate the risk involved with insuring a high-risk individual. When you pay premiums to your insurer, they will give some of the proceeds to the other company.
Yet, Netrebov points out, “In a lot of those cases though, if you're in a dangerous career, there is likely already a custom policy underwritten for your group. You would want to speak with your HR professional or trade association to see what you have.”
You may also look into getting a no-medical exam, or Guaranteed Issue policy. These guarantee you coverage, without going through a medical exam or answering a lot of questions about your lifestyle. But, the premiums will be much more expensive, and the death benefits will be subpar.
Finding a life policy while working in a high risk job requires you to be more persistent when searching for coverage.
Benjamin S. Offit, partner at Clear Path Advisory, Inc. says, “It is recommended that you work with an insurance agent who is not captive to any one company and is able to look at the entire landscape of insurance types and carriers. As each one will look at one’s occupation a little bit differently.”
However, he recommends that people with dangerous jobs try to get coverage before they start the job, or early in their career, because it’ll be more affordable.
What if you purchased life insurance before getting a dangerous job? Or what if you change your profession, after purchasing a policy? Well, there are a few options for you.
According to Netrebov, “If you're currently in a regular career and get your life insurance policy, after 2 years, the contestability period, you could decide to take on a dangerous job. And as long as you are current on your premiums and the policy is active, your policy would still apply.
You need to be honest about your profession. If you don’t disclose a dangerous job and are killed on the job, an insurer can deny death benefits to your beneficiaries. Always be honest and update your insurer on any life changes.
And if you go from a high risk job to a low risk one, your insurer will probably reward you for that, by reducing your rates. You’ll want to talk to your insurer for more information.
Shop Around and Do Your Research
The most important step to take after shopping for a policy is to research the companies you’re interested in. No two companies use the same criteria when determining rates. You might even hire an independent life insurance agent or broker who can sell policies from many different companies.
According to Huntley, “There is no one carrier that’s necessarily better than others. As each situation has to be looked at from the individual’s employment situation and duties as they can vary. The rating criteria can also vary substantially from company to company for individual high risk occupations.”
That’s why it always pays to shop around, and find the best company for your needs. You can start by using QuoteWizard.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Q: Do high risk hobbies also raise your rates?
A: If you have a hobby that puts your life in danger, it will affect your life insurance rates. During the life insurance underwriting process, your insurer will ask questions about your personal life—including your work and hobbies.
You should let them know if you engage in any risky hobbies. If you were to die from one of these hobbies and didn’t let your insurer know, they could deny your death benefits.
The hobbies insurers see as the most risky are skydiving, hang-gliding, scuba diving, bungee jumping, mountain or rock climbing, and car racing. If you engage in any of these, carefully evaluate which life policy is best for you.
Q: What are some guaranteed exclusions to a life insurance policy?
A: Exclusions will vary by insurer. But, according to Netrebov, “Every policy I have seen in my career will exclude coverage for military in times of war. This is because military personnel have insurance and coverage through the government.”
Check with your insurer for information about other excluded professions and hobbies.
Q: Do high risk professions offer group life insurance?
A: Your employer may or may not provide group life insurance. However, group life policies don’t provide a great deal of coverage. You’ll want to purchase a separate policy on top of your employee policy.
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