Life Insurance for High-Risk Applicants

Quick Answer

You can typically get life insurance if you have a high-risk job. But you may face rejection of some of your applications and you’ll probably pay a higher premium.

A female pilot adjusting switches on the control panel while sitting inside cockpit.

From pilots to roofers, dangerous jobs present hazards that your family might not be financially prepared for. If you die on the job, a life insurance policy can help make sure your family will be secure without your income. But can you qualify for life insurance if you work in a high-risk occupation?

Yes, you probably can buy life insurance if you hold down a risky job. But buyer beware—you'll likely end up paying more for your policy.

How High-Risk Occupations Affect Life Insurance

When you apply for a life insurance policy, one of the factors taken into account is your life expectancy. Here's how this might look:

  • When you apply for coverage, a life insurer will take a close look at your life expectancy. If you work in a high-risk occupation, your life expectancy might be lower than normal.
  • During the application process, the insurer will place you in a risk class to help determine your eligibility and premium. A high-risk job generally will land you in the "substandard" or "rated" risk class, reserved for those who are riskier to insure than other policyholders.
  • If your life expectancy is lower, you might pay premiums for a relatively short period and your death benefit might be paid out earlier. An insurer might seek to ease this potential financial risk by charging a higher premium.
  • The insurer also might limit the types of life insurance you're eligible for.
  • In the worst-case scenario, a life insurer might reject your application if you work in a risky occupation.

Other factors that go into determining your life insurance risk include:

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Health conditions (such as obesity and heart problems)
  • Family health history (such as cancer and diabetes)
  • Risky hobbies (such as skydiving or bungee jumping)

Which Jobs Are Considered High-Risk for Insurance?

A number of jobs are considered high-risk for life insurance. These include:

  • Firefighter
  • Police officer
  • Pilot
  • Service member
  • Logger
  • Roofer
  • Construction worker
  • Refuse collector
  • Truck driver
  • Steel worker
  • Farmer and rancher
  • Grounds maintenance worker
  • Power line worker
  • Offshore oil worker

Getting Life Insurance With a High-Risk Job

If you hold down a high-risk job, you likely will pay what's known as a "flat extra" rate for a life insurance policy. This rate is tacked on to your regular life insurance premium. Typically, the rate is $2.50 to $5 for every $1,000 of coverage.

How to Save Money When Buying Life Insurance

With the added cost of high-risk life insurance policies, looking for ways to save is extra important. Here are six ways you may be able to reduce your premiums:

  1. Shop around. Obtain quotes from several insurance companies, either online or through an independent broker.
  2. Consider term life insurance or group life insurance. These types of insurance generally cost less than other types of life insurance.
  3. Ask about discounts. Some life insurers might provide a discount if you secure a higher level of coverage, such as $500,000 vs. $250,000.
  4. Maintain good health. If you make lifestyle changes like giving up smoking, losing weight or working out regularly, you might be able to score a lower rate for life insurance.
  5. Improve your credit. Some life insurers might use a credit-based insurance score (which is different from a traditional credit score) when you submit an application. This score is based on your credit history, and can help insurers forecast how likely it is that a claim will be filed.

Types of Life Insurance

As you're shopping for life insurance, be aware of the types of coverage that are available:

  • Term life insurance: Term life insurance is the most basic type of life insurance. You pay premiums over a certain term, often 10 to 30 years. If you die during that period, your beneficiaries will receive a policy payout.
  • Permanent life insurance: Permanent life insurance offers long-term or lifelong coverage. The most common kinds of permanent life insurance are whole life insurance and universal life insurance.
  • Group life insurance: Group life insurance is a single policy that covers a group, such as the employees of a company. Group life insurance typically costs less than individually purchased life insurance.
  • Accidental death and dismemberment: A form of life insurance, accidental death and dismemberment coverage provides a payout only for causes of death and injury that are spelled out in the policy.

The Bottom Line

Working in a high-risk occupation puts you at a greater risk of paying more for life insurance. But don't be discouraged. If you do things like shopping around for coverage and considering different types of life insurance policies, you can lessen your family's financial risk and still enjoy the peace of mind that life insurance provides.