Suppose you’re a generally healthy person with a weekend habit of jumping out of helicopters to ski down mountains in the middle of the French Alps? What if you like to ascend ice formations in a sport called ice climbing, or barrel down a twisting paved road while lying on wheeled board? How about if you work a dangerous job? If you find that your adrenaline rush or risky occupation is getting in the way of obtaining life insurance coverage, here’s two ways to prevent being denied coverage or finding reasonable rates: don’t lie, and get trained.
Although hazardous avocations typically come with increased premiums, high-risk insurance specialists can advise you on how to keep your personal premiums from soaring.
Dangerous avocations, as defined by the United States Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA), are categorized as “impaired risk,” meaning most underwriters will rule out the most favorable rates, but according to Carol Casey-Odekirk, spokesperson for State. Farm Insurance, people who work dangerous jobs are generally compensated for job risk by their companies, which can offset any increase in premiums.
“Insurers are obviously involved in aggressive underwriting for people with impaired risk, but to do the best job we need to know all the facts pertaining to the risk,” says Gary Dworkin, Immediate Past Chair for the National Association of Independent Life Brokerage Agencies.
While premiums vary based on specific circumstances, taking safety courses and showing expertise in your hobby or occupation can help reduce your rates. The life insurance market is very competitive and rates are often reasonable, so chances are fairly good a risk specialist can find you the best coverage for the right price. Lying or omitting information, however, will not help you.
“Insurers are pretty good about their research, so it’s not a matter of if you lie-it’s a matter of when they catch you. Within the first two years the life insurance policy is issued, insurers have the right to reject claims, refund premiums or nullify the contract if it’s found that they misrepresented information. There’s also a chance of having a claim rejected for fraud,” said Dworkin.
If you are caught lying before a life insurance policy is issued, it goes on your record, which can keep you from finding reasonable rates or being insured altogether, so simply don’t do it.
When it comes to living dangerously, some people don’t just do it for kicks-it’s their day job. Preliminary data from the United States Department of Labor’s 2008 “Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries” listed the following five jobs as the most hazardous, by fatality rate (otherwise known as the chances of surviving, if you are injured on the job). We included an additional five jobs with surprising mortality rates.
1. Fishermen- Sure, they get plenty of fresh air and exercise, but they also have the highest relative risk of death by drowning. Although the DOL listed 38 fatalities in 2008, fishermen have the highest fatality rates of any profession- 111.8 (per 100,000).
2. Lumberjack- With a mortality rate of 86.4/100,000 and 76 fatalities with the reason listed as “contact with objects and equipment,” sometimes being a lumberjack is not OK.
3. Airplane pilots- People who work in the airline industry, particularly pilots, hold the dubious honor of third-most dangerous job in America. With 87 deaths in 2008, they face a grim 70.7/100,000 chance of death every day they go to work. The majority of their deaths are crash-related. Just remember to thank your pilot on your next flight (instead of complaining about the delay).
4. Structural metal workers- Someone has to make sure the buildings go up. Unfortunately, structural metal workers face a huge risk of falling down on the job from an average height of 500 feet or more. Unlike the top 3, metal workers had 40 fatalities listed for 2007, and a mortality rate of 45.5.
5. Farmers and ranchers- Sure, a job in the open country, working with the land may sound ideal, but it loses appeal when you consider how sharp farm implements are, and how a herd of stampeding animals won’t stop because the light went red. With 293 deaths in 2008, farmers and ranchers have a mortality rate of 39.5.
Five surprisingly Dangerous Jobs
1. Driver/sales workers and truck drivers- It’s a life on the open road, which is both a problem and a solution for many people in the transportation industry. Although they have a relatively low fatality rate, 28.2, the DOL also listed a shocking 976 fatalities in 2007.
2. Construction workers- Like structural metal workers, construction workers are integral to maintaining the infrastructure of our society. Although their mortality rate is a relatively low 19.5, their job requires working in a variety of dangerous conditions. As a result construction workers average a staggering 345 deaths per year from falls and traffic accidents.
3. Grounds maintenance workers- It’s a dirty job, but somebody has to keep the grounds looking nice at golf courses, parks and resorts across the nation. Unfortunately, with 160 fatalities listed in 2007, it might not be the hottest job on the market. On a plus note, grounds workers enjoy the lowest mortality rates on this list, 12.0.
4. Policemen and Sheriffs- Despite upholding the law, policemen and sheriffs are subject to the same general rules as ordinary folks with hazardous jobs. Their fatality rates were listed as 21.8, and they only suffered 146 fatalities, with the most common cause listed as “transportation incidents.”
5. Taxicab Drivers- Ever wonder why your cabby is so surly? With an average of 50 deaths per year from violent assaults and a mortality rate about the same as police officers (21.3), they might have earned the right to be a little standoffish. Just remember to make eye contact and smile before your cabby whips out the mace.