Life Insurance For High Risk Occupations.

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Last updated: March 14, 2016 at 22:50 pm

Choices For Life Insurance on High Risk Occupations

When looking for affordable life insurance for someone in a high-risk occupation, you will find that your choices are more limited. There are companies out there willing to insure you, but you need to find an insurer specializing in coverage for your riskier-than-average profession if you are to get a good rate.

Below, we go over the basics on high-risk occupation life insurance so that you can shop more wisely for your best obtainable policy.

Risky occupations

What Do Insurers Consider a “High-Risk Occupation?”

Any occupation that significantly increases the chances of an early or accidental death is viewed by insurance companies as “risky.” While it is true that every job, and life in general, carries a certain amount of unavoidable risk, insurers operate on the basis of statistical averages and risk factors in order to keep themselves solvent for the long-term.

Thus, while a higher-risk job may bring with it higher pay, it will also require higher premiums on life insurance policies.

If you are in good health, don’t smoke or drink, are still in your 30’s or 40’s, and do not engage in any other activities insurers view as risky, you may still be able to find reasonable insurance rates despite your high-risk occupation. It also depends on the specific occupation in question since each has its own level of risk.

Some of the most common high-risk occupations that could increase your insurance premiums or otherwise affect the terms of your policy include:

  • Military personnel, firefighters, law enforcement officers, and private security guards. Police and firefighters can sometimes get special exception due to their public service, and active-duty military members can get a lower rate if they apply before leaving the U.S. Special Forces members, however, do not typically have a way to avoid high premiums.
  • Pilots of smaller aircraft. Student pilots can generally get standard coverage with a “flat extra” (discussed below). Seasoned pilots who don’t fly many hours per year can often get preferred coverage without the flat extra. Commercial pilots are considered safe enough to give regular premiums.
  • Loggers/lumberjacks. This is the single-most risky job in the U.S., having a very high fatality rate of 128 per 100,000. Falling timber and sharp, moving cutting blades make this job riskier than working on a bomb squad.
  • Offshore fishermen. Frequency of fishing and boat size will affect your premium. Smaller boats are consider more dangerous. Weather, transportation accidents, and working with heavy equipment are the main risk factors. At 117 fatalities per 100,000, this is the second-most dangerous profession.
  • Roofers and construction workers. Heights, trip and fall accidents, use of dangerous power tools and heavy machinery, and exposure to mud, weather, and hazardous obstacles at construction sites are major risks.
  • Transport and warehouse jobs. In 2012, transportation accidents were responsible for two of every five work-related fatalities. Truck drivers, railroad workers, ferryboat operators, and warehouse stockers and forklift operators fall into this category.
  • Any job that requires extensive international travel, especially to high-risk countries. This could be anything from an oil rig worker to a corporate CEO.

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What To Expect During the Application Process

First, you should expect to usually (not always, depends on occupation) pay a “flat extra” on top of the ordinary rate. This is an additional charge per extra $1,000 of coverage. It usually ranges from two to five dollars, which for a $100,000 policy, could reach as high as $50 more per month. This underscores the importance of shopping around for the best deal when it comes to high-risk occupation insurance.

Second, you will have to answer more detailed questions about your occupation than the average insurance applicant.

While the data insurers demand will vary from company to company and from occupation to occupation, generally expect the following areas of inquiry:

  • The location of your workplace. Is it offshore? Is it in a foreign country? Is it in a remote Alaskan airfield? Is it a crime-ridden police beat in inner-city Detroit?
  • What are your day-to-day work tasks? Insurers will want to know the specifics of what you do and how often you do it to gain a better understanding of your actual risk level.
  • What are the main dangers you typically face? This may be chemicals, explosives, dangerous equipment/machinery, inclement weather, armed criminals, or any number of other things.

You may have to settle for less coverage to make life insurance affordable for some high-risk professions, but the benefits must meet your needs or the policy will not be worth having. Sometimes, you will have to accept various exclusions and restrictions in order to obtain a policy.

If the policy is still adequate with the exclusions, fine. If not, you may need to buy two policies: a traditional life insurance policy with exclusions for “extraordinary risks” and a complementary policy that covers nothing but the risk areas excluded in the other policy. This “combo” approach often can save you money.

One final consideration—ask your employer if they offer any insurance options to their employees. If the company you work for has a group life policy, you may be able to save. Because it is a high-risk company, you can expect the rates to still be higher than with other employer-based policies, but it is at least worth checking into.

You may not be able to transfer the policy if you switch jobs, but in that case, you might no longer need a high-risk occupation insurance policy. Be aware that group policies do not always provide adequate quantity of coverage. In that case, you will want to look into buying extra coverage (if permitted), supplementing the group policy, or opting out and buying something else.


Finding good insurance coverage when you work at a high-risk job is not always easy, but it is almost always possible. With a little time and effort and some help from an expert agent, you can probably find a policy that is affordable, provides adequate protection, and that you qualify for.

The application process may be a more stringent, and the terms may include flat extras and/or exclusions, but independent insurance brokers know how to find you your best deal. They can search dozens of the best insurers and compare rates based on your specific criteria.

There is no need to give up on finding worthwhile insurance for your high-risk profession. It is out there somewhere, and there are professionals who know how to match you to your best possible policy.

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