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Life insurance for high-risk occupations explained

In this guide, we look at what high-risk life insurance is, how the plans work and how to apply. 
A big part of life insurance is assessing risk. Some people’s jobs, hobbies or lifestyles put them at a higher risk of death than others. High-risk life insurance is
designed to provide cover for them.

If you have a potentially dangerous occupation, finding life insurance can be challenging. High-risk life insurance plans may be more expensive than regular policies. But it is usually possible to find cover that suits you.

What is high-risk life insurance?

A high-risk life insurance policy is any plan which covers people who are at a higher risk of death. As they are more likely to make a claim, insurers tend to charge them a higher premium.  High-risk life insurance isn’t a separate product from ‘regular’ life insurance. Instead, it’s about describing the riskiness of the applicant.  Insurers consider lots of factors to decide how much risk you’re exposed to.

Some of these things are to do with your lifestyle. If you smoke or drink frequently, you’re at a higher risk of death.  The insurer will also look at your medical history and age. And they may check things like your weight. They also calculate the risk you are faced with carrying out your job.

There are more life-threatening risks involved in working as a firefighter than as a primary school teacher, for example. This would make firefighter life insurance more expensive. You might also have risky hobbies. Say you enjoyed amateur solo flying. There is a higher risk of death from this hobby. Pilot life insurance would therefore cost more.

How does high-risk life insurance work?

A high-risk life insurance policy works the same as regular plans. Once you have found protection that meets your needs, there are a few steps to take. First, you need to decide how much cover you want. This is the amount that will be paid out when you die. Calculate how much money your loved ones would need if you passed away. This might be enough to pay off a mortgage. Or general living expenses for several years.

You then choose between high-risk term life insurance or whole life insurance. Term life insurance covers you for a set number of years. Your loved ones could claim if you died in that time. High-risk whole life insurance means they’ll get a payout whenever you die. Next, you tell the insurer about yourself. Life insurance for high-risk individuals often requires you to provide extra information.

You might need to undergo a medical examination. You may also need to provide extra information about your job. Your cover then begins and will keep providing protection as long as you pay your premiums. If the worst happened, your loved one could make a claim. They would need to contact the insurer with your policy number and a death certificate. With life insurance for high-risk jobs, the provider might need to speak to the coroner or the police. Once the paperwork is complete, your loved ones will receive a payout.

Do I need high-risk life insurance?

This depends entirely on you and your circumstances. High-risk life insurance isn’t a specific product you can purchase.

It’s regular life insurance but tailored to you. If the insurer sees you as a high-risk person for the reasons above, then they’ll charge you a higher premium.

Every insurer is different and the way they calculate risk varies. This means that one insurer will treat your occupation as high-risk. But another may treat it as relatively safe.

What is deemed as high-risk on a life insurance application?

Every life insurance company calculates risk differently. That said, certain factors are more likely to put you in a higher risk bracket. First, there are lifestyle factors. People who smoke or drink heavily are at a higher risk of death.

The same goes if you have risky hobbies. Rock climbing or scuba diving, for instance. Then there are medical factors. These are things like your own health history. Someone who has had cancer before might be more likely to get it again.

The insurer might ask about your family’s medical history too. If relatives have passed away from a genetic disease, that puts you at more risk. Then there’s your job. Some occupations have a statistically higher rate of death. For example, jobs like farming, fishing, construction, security or emergency services come with a higher risk of death.

Life insurance for high-risk jobs like construction will therefore cost more.  Each insurer has a list of high-risk occupations. You might find one insurer that treats manufacturing as safe. But another might view it as dangerous. 

How does having a high-risk job affect life insurance premiums?

Life insurance for high-risk jobs usually comes with higher premiums. The insurance company will charge more money to cover you. The exact way this works depends on your specific role.

For example, construction is the most dangerous job sector in the UK. But within construction, there are different levels of risk. A roofer, for example, faces a much higher risk than a site manager who spends most of their time in an office.

Many professions come with death in service benefits. For example, police life insurance or firefighter life insurance may be provided automatically by your employer. You can of course get additional personal life insurance too.

Certain jobs might require speciality life insurance. Especially in professions where you might travel a lot. Army life insurance, navy life insurance and pilot life insurance recognise that you will often be travelling abroad. You might be visiting dangerous places. So, a specialist provider will work out your risk. 

Which insurance companies offer high-risk occupations life insurance?

Most life insurance companies will offer cover to people doing high-risk jobs. They will ask a series of questions about the work you do. They then calculate your risk level based on their criteria.

You’re then provided with a quote that’s tailored to you. As noted above, there are some specialist high-risk life insurance providers. They work exclusively with certain professions such as the army or the police. Ask the HR department at your employer if they recommend any specific providers. 

What will the insurer need to know?

If the insurer views your occupation as high-risk, they will ask some additional questions. The aim is to find out what level of risk you’re exposed to. It’s about how often you’re likely to face danger. It’s also about the nature of the hazard. For example, some occupations may only face dangerous situations once every couple of years. But when they do, there’s a very high-risk of death.

On the other hand, a profession such as a scaffolder may face risks of falling every single day. But the likelihood of it happening is quite low overall. The insurer tries to balance these risks out. To get a picture of the dangers you face, they’ll ask certain questions. They’ll want to find out where you work and which country (or countries) you work in. Is it on land or sea or air? Insurers want to know if you’re mainly office-based or are continually outside.

They will also want to get a picture of your regular working tasks. Say you’re a construction worker. Do you spend most time up on scaffolding? Or are you mainly in the site office planning tasks? High-risk life insurance also wants to know about the nature of the dangers you face and how often you face those risks.

Try to be as transparent as possible when answering these questions. It might be tempting to make the risk sound less severe. But this could be counterproductive. If you did die at work and the insurer finds you weren’t completely honest on your application, they may not pay out to your loved ones.

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