Dangerous Jobs That Make Getting Life Insurance Difficult

Aaron Crowe | Life Insurance | 20 Jan, 2015 | No Comments

Listing your job title on a life insurance application is a normal part of the process. Some job descriptions, however, may send your insurance agent running, or you’ll at least have to pay extra for coverage.

Life insurance rates are higher for high-risk jobs for the simple reason that they can lower your life expectancy. With a shorter life, an insurer will have to pay off the policy sooner, giving it less time to collect premiums from you.

A risky job could lead to denial of a life insurance policy being issued. Or it could be offered as a “rated” policy where a higher price is charged to account for the excess risk. For example, someone with a risky job could be charged $3 more per $1,000 of coverage annually. Having $100,000 in coverage would cost $300 more per year.

Here are some dangerous jobs that could make getting a life insurance policy more difficult to obtain:

Astronaut. Any type of flying job — airline pilot, helicopter pilot, skydivers and even the occasional space tourist — should expect to pay more for life insurance, though space tourists may have a loophole in an existing policy.

Astronauts are charged $10 more per $1,000 in coverage per year, in addition to whatever their approved rate is, says Ellen Davis, president of Life Health Home Insurance Group. A $250,000 life insurance policy would cost $2,500 more per year beyond the base premium (250 X 10).

Off-shore oil rig worker. Even if your job on an off-shore oil rig isn’t dangerous, it’s still expensive to insure, says Christopher Huntley, co-founder of JRC Insurance Group, who a few years ago had a client working on a rig in the Gulf of Mexico.

“While his job on the rig was not dangerous, all insurance carriers consider oil rigs to be hazardous and charge a premium for it,” Huntley says.

His client was charged an extra $2.50 per $1,000 in coverage. He bought a $250,000 policy and his occupation cost him an extra $625 per year beyond the base premium, Huntley says.

Liran Hirschkorn, an independent insurance agent at BestLifeQuote.com, says he also worked with a client who was involved in offshore oil drilling internationally, and he had to pay an extra $3 for every $1,000 of coverage. The extra fee wasn’t only for his risky occupation, but also because he traveled internationally for his work.

 Hazardous materials worker. If you remove asbestos for a living or work inside a nuclear reactor, you may be denied coverage or will have to pay for the added risk. The same goes for anyone who works in a tunnel regularly.

Explosives work. If you set up fireworks displays for a living, or do building demolition work, you’ll likely be denied life insurance coverage.

Circus performer. Clowns are probably fine, but any circus performer in a risky job such as high-flying acrobat or trapeze artist should expect rated life insurance policies that cost extra.

Work with animals. A zookeeper can have difficulty getting insurance, as can anyone who works with exotic animals. Circus animal wranglers could also have trouble.

Some jobs that you might consider risky, however, aren’t “rated” as a higher risk and don’t cost more than they normally would. This can be because workplace-safety requirements and regulations from the Occupational Safety & Health Administration make such jobs as skyscraper window washer and police officer safer.

“You would be surprised that other ‘dangerous’ jobs like cops and firefighters don’t pay an additional fee for coverage,” says Hirschkorn, the insurance agent. “I think that’s mostly because insurance companies don’t want to penalize those cops and firefighters who are risking their jobs for public safety.”

For workers, hobbyists or anyone with a health condition that can make getting approved for life insurance difficult, it’s important to work with an insurance agent who can ask a variety of insurers to insure you, and to be upfront with the underwriter so they can gather other information about you that may make you a better insurance risk, such as exercising regularly and not having major health problems.

Your occupation or hobby may make you seem uninsurable, but a good insurance agent can help assess your other risk factors and shop the insurance market for you.

Aaron Crowe is a freelance journalist who covers the insurance industry and personal finance topics for various websites, including his website CashSmarter.com.

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