The list of high risk occupations is broad, so we can’t provide a definitive answer for each specific case. We can however outline some misconceptions and general principals around this area of life insurance underwriting.
First up, many occupations that appear ‘high risk’, actually aren’t. Life insurance companies use wide industry data to develop mortality tables, and if your occupation’s mortality doesn’t deviate from the norm then it won’t impact your life insurance premiums. For example, police officers and firefighters would typically receive standard rates. Many, but not all, commercial pilots may receive standard rates.
Even diving with atmospheric body suits – those diving suits with the glass helmet – can sometimes receive standard rates. By contrast, some types of diving, particularly underwater welding, can receive higher premiums. The difference is that with an atmospheric body suits, there’s generally a high level of safety equipment in place – a pump to provide air, plus a second diver on standby in case the primary diver experiences problems. So while some diving may look absolutely high risk, from a mortality perspective it’s not the case.
If you do receive a rating, it will be issued as a ‘flat extra’. This type of rating is a dollar amount per thousand of life insurance. So a $1.00 flat extra for occupation on a $500 policy would incur an additional premium of $500/month, or about $45/month.
Occupational ratings like this cannot be excluded. In some cases, ratings can be reduced by excluding the condition from the policy – i.e. if it’s back country skiing, some companies may issue a policy without a rating but add an exclusion that won’t pay if death is the result of back country skiing. However, exclusions are never available if it’s related to your occupation.
Pilots can sometimes receive a rating, but it often depends on factors such as where you take off and land, and the landscape that you fly over. So if you’re flying in an air ambulance and landing and taking off in fields and roads then a rating is likely. Or if you’re flying up north over very remote territory then a rating may be probable as well.
The best way to determine your premiums, or if you’re even in a high risk occupation, is to call our offices and ask to speak to an experience advisor. We can either provide you a probable rating (or lack thereof), or reach out to our life insurance companies and get an estimate from them.