Last Updated: April 2021
Despite your high-risk occupation, you can find good life insurance coverage if you know how to look.
Finding coverage won’t always be simple. As you’ve probably discovered, dangerous jobs create a barrier to coverage. Companies may deny you, or they’ll cover you, but with out-of-control premiums because it is considered high-risk life insurance.
To navigate around this roadblock, you’ll need some knowledge about how insurers think, and you’ll need an expert guide, also known as an independent life insurance agent.
An independent agent can help you find companies more likely to look favorably on your application and approve coverage you can afford.
- Why It’s Hard to Find Coverage with a High-Risk Job
- The Top 10 Most Dangerous Jobs
- The Higher Cost of High-Risk Insurance
- Possible Alternatives to High-Risk Life Insurance
- How to Apply for Life Insurance with a High-Risk Occupation
Why It’s Hard to Find Coverage with a High-Risk Job
At first, it seems unfair. The people who need life insurance coverage more than most- workers in dangerous professions whose families depend on their income- have the hardest time getting covered.
But that’s how life insurance works.
Companies have to consider the risks of approving your coverage. Otherwise, they’d be putting their own financial stability, along with the benefits of existing policyholders, at too much risk.
And it’s not just about the hazards of your job.
Companies will also consider your age, health, family health history, choice of hobbies, tobacco use, and many other factors when they analyze your application.
High-risk occupations are a big deal for underwriters, though.
The Top 10 Most Dangerous Jobs
The Federal Bureau of Labor Statistics releases a list of the most dangerous jobs each year.
The list changes from time to time. Safety improvements in manufacturing and road construction, for example, have made those jobs less risky in recent decades.
The current list of most dangerous jobs includes:
- Commercial Fishers: Small boats, heavy equipment, and extended periods on the job make commercial fishing the most dangerous profession.
- Loggers: The combination of falling trees, heavy equipment, and power saws make this profession among the most deadly. Cutting limbs around power lines also add to the danger.
- Aircraft Pilots and Flight Engineers: Commercial airlines have become statistically safer over the years, but pilots and engineers remain on this list.
- Roofers: High elevations increase the likelihood that an accident will be fatal.
- Garbage and Recycling Collectors: Working around moving cars all day and working with heavy equipment takes an unfortunate toll.
- Structural Iron and Steel Workers: Dangerously high temperatures and high elevations keep this job on the list.
- Truck Drivers and Traveling Salespeople: Traveling so much makes these workers more likely to be killed in a motor vehicle wreck.
- Farmers and Ranchers: Outdoor work around heavy equipment and powerful animals leads to higher-than-average fatalities for agriculturists.
- Groundskeeping Workers: Once again, heavy machinery, outdoor work, and the proximity of moving vehicles in many cases make this job more dangerous.
- Power Utility Workers: The dangers of electricity, high elevations, and extreme weather combine to increase fatality rates for utility workers.
The Higher Cost of High-Risk Insurance
Working in one of the professions on the list above will cause many life insurance companies to assign your coverage a “flat extra.”
A flat extra allows underwriters to consider your application using their normal criteria, then add more money to your premium to account for your high-risk job.
For many companies, a flat extra adds about $2.50 to $5 to your annual premiums for every $1,000 in coverage you buy.
The riskiest applicants, fishers, or loggers, for example, would be assessed a higher flat extra fee.
The Flat Extra in Practice
An extra $5 per $1,000 of coverage a year may sound reasonable enough until you multiply it by your entire coverage amount. With coverage of $250,000, you’d see an extra $1,250 a year which is about $104 extra a month.
Assuming your base premium amount was around $30 a month, this extra $104 a month could make coverage unaffordable. You may opt for less coverage, $100,000 for example, so you could afford the premiums.
But would $100,000 in coverage be enough to protect your family if you died unexpectedly at work?
Many young families need more coverage if they’d like the ability to pay off the mortgage and save for the kids’ college.
Helping Yourself to Better Coverage
You can also help yourself get better life insurance coverage at a better price by making yourself a less risky applicant in other areas of life. Along with your occupation, underwriters consider risk factors such as:
- Your age: You can’t get any younger, but you can stop putting off life insurance and lock in a lower rate based on your current age. The older you get, the harder it is to afford coverage.
- Your health: Traditional life insurance requires a medical exam. Losing a little weight and lowering your cholesterol or your blood pressure can help unlock lower premiums.
- Tobacco status: Smokers pay a lot more, sometimes 5-10 times more, for life insurance. If you can quit smoking (and using other forms of tobacco) you can qualify for better rates.
- Credit score: Underwriters even consider your credit history in most states. A lower credit score can indicate a tendency for riskier life choices.
- Driving record: Your state Department of Motor Vehicles will share its records with your insurance company. When you speed or drive recklessly, you’re putting yourself at greater risk, and your life insurance company will notice and could classify your new application as riskier.
- Your policy type: A term life policy costs less than a whole life policy because term policies have expiration dates on your coverage. Expiring coverage isn’t necessarily a bad thing when you consider you probably wouldn’t need so much coverage later in life when the kids are grown and the house is paid off.
Possible Alternatives to High-Risk Life Insurance
You can understand why many people in high-risk jobs either give up on finding good life insurance or start looking for alternative kinds of coverage.
Let’s look at the pros and cons of some common alternatives.
No-Exam Life Insurance
Life insurance that doesn’t require a medical exam can also skip other parts of the underwriting process, increasing your odds of approval.
Insurance companies may approve your application for simplified issue or guaranteed issue policies despite your occupation. But these two types of no exam coverage have some significant limitations:
- Simplified Issue: Simplified issue policies usually cap coverage around $250,000, and they cost a lot more than medically underwritten coverage, especially for healthier people who could benefit financially from getting the medical exam.
- Guaranteed Issue: Insurance companies will essentially guarantee approval for anyone who applies for a guaranteed issue policy. But coverage is typically limited to $25,000 or so, premiums are high, and you may have to wait a couple of years before the coverage actually kicks in.
No-exam policies offer convenience, and they make sense for some people. If you need a lot of coverage to protect your financial dependents, they won’t be able to help.
Group Life Insurance at Work
Other high-risk professionals turn to the life insurance coverage their company offers as a benefit of employment. Some companies even pay the premiums as a perk.
However, group policies usually have less coverage, with $100,000 as a typical amount.
They also depend on you continuing to work at the same company. If you left the company, you’d lose the coverage.
This kind of coverage can be helpful, and you may as well accept it when it’s free. But this coverage wouldn’t provide the protection you’d need to replace your salary for 10 years, which is a traditional expectation of life insurance.
Also, fewer companies offer these kinds of benefits now, especially as companies depend more on contract labor and less on a traditional workforce.
Going Without Coverage At All
With the difficulty of finding quality coverage for an affordable price, you can understand why people in dangerous jobs give up the search.
Most people, though, would prefer to have coverage in place to compensate their families after a tragedy such as a workplace death, which happened 5,147 times in 2017.
When you consider the difference $250,000, $500,000, or even $1 million in coverage could make in your family’s life at such a traumatic time, you’ll want to explore all opportunities for coverage.
How to Apply for Life Insurance with a High-Risk Occupation
We said it above because it’s true: People with dangerous jobs can find quality, affordable life insurance coverage with help from an independent life insurance agency like ours.
This is possible because an independent agent works with and knows the underwriting tendencies of dozens of life insurance companies.
Some companies tend to overlook the dangers of some occupations, for example. Other companies come up with their own analyses of occupational dangers, rather than relying exclusively on the Bureau of Labor for data.
In these cases, you can often find a niche company where your application can benefit from a different interpretation. By applying this kind of knowledge, an independent agent can match you with the insurance company most likely to meet your needs.
You Can Get Covered if You Work a Dangerous Job
You shouldn’t have to go without life insurance coverage just because you work in a high-risk profession.
You also shouldn’t have to settle for lower coverage amounts with no-exam policies when you have a family depending on your income.
If you’re relatively healthy and young enough to qualify for affordable coverage, we can find an ideal policy for you even if you work a dangerous job. Call us and we’ll get started.
Having the right coverage at the right price won’t protect you from the hazards of your job.
But if you died in a work accident, your coverage could make a huge difference as your family absorbed the shock of your loss and started trying to rebuild a new life.