If your work puts you into risk on a deeper mortality level others do not experience, specialty life insurance is needed. Standard life insurance is not something designed for your needs when you have a risky job.
If you work in any of the industries categorized as high-risk – from farming to timber, and fishing to flying and construction – there’s a meaningful chance an incident at work could cause you harm.
Life insurance guarantees your family won’t be left financially destitute in the event of your death, but unless your job has some exceptional disability benefits, it’s best to purchase additional insurance.
In the past, the cost of individual life insurance for those who work in a risky environment often came at a steep price, but Ryan Pinney, brokerage director at Pinney Insurance Center Inc. in Roseville, Calif., said insurance companies have become more competitive when it comes to pricing a policy that covers a hazardous profession.
“We routinely survey life insurance companies about changes to the most common vocational high-risk situations (SWAT team, explosives handler, etc.),” Pinney said. “The way companies rate a vocational hazard is usually pretty consistent, but every once in a while someone will make a major change related to their underwriting procedures to compete in the market.”
When it comes to certain professions, Pinney said, the risky business can fall into a hazardous avocation (hobby) category, or overlooked due to the job’s title. For example, a member of the SWAT team would most likely put down “law enforcement” or “police” as his profession, and would not typically be rated by an insurance company. Similarly, explosives handlers for building construction and demolition may fall into the “construction worker” category and be rated accordingly.
While certain professions like helicopter or airplane pilots, scuba divers and even smoke jumpers sign up for life insurance, an insurance company may require them to fill out an extra questionnaire that explains their job duties in detail. If the dangerous activity is recreational, they may be denied coverage, but if it is something they do professionally, then they may be covered and charged a flat extra—basically, an extra fee added on for every $1000 of coverage.
When You Lose a Limb
According to the most recent report by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), workers have a four in 100,000 chance of dying on the job. They have a 4.6 chance in 100 of being injured or becoming ill due to their job. This highlights the importance of disability coverage, especially for those who work a risky job.
“The real issue is often personal disability insurance. Government or employer-provided disability can be extremely limited, or require such specific conditions you may not qualify. Having personal insurance coverage offsets that risk,” said Nancy Bennett, senior fellow at the American Academy of Actuaries.
If you have proper life insurance and disability insurance, you can sleep easy at night (or during the day if you’re working a night shift) knowing you and your family are completely covered.
Risk takers? Take notes, because this is how it works. Insurance companies place jobs into different classes (that vary with each company). For some disability insurers, jobs have 5 rating classifications: 4A, 3A, 2A, 1A and NE. The lower your number, the higher the rate; unless your job is classified NE, then, you may be denied coverage. In case you are thinking of a hazardous career change, here are some hazardous occupations and what class they would hypothetically fall into.
|Occupation||Class||Eligibility for disability insurance|
|Fishermen (commercial and pearl hunting)||NE||Denied. Better fish around for coverage. You will be denied here.|
|Skyscraper Window Washer||1A||Just scraping by to be eligible.|
|Miner (Coal, Metals, Minerals etc.)||-Office Duties Only: 4A-Above Ground: Manager or Superintendent: 3A-Foreman: 2A-Others: 1A-Below Ground: NE||Generally covered, but not a job for the claustrophobic; dig around to see if you will get lower coverage elsewhere or coverage at all.|
|Nuclear/Power Plant Facilities||-Handling or exposed to hazardous materials: NE||Denied. Just run away if it is glowing and starts to move, and read the directions twice.|
|FBI & CIA||NE||Denied. If you told the insurers your real name, you would probably have to kill them anyway.|
|Virologists/Toxicologist and people who deal with deadly viruses||3A||Rated. This can vary by company.|
|Helicopter pilots||Possible NE||Depending on the company, helicopter pilots may be denied or issued a standard policy with a flat extra.|
|Trucking Industry||local pick up and delivery only, no liquor or gasoline: 2A- long haul, furniture mover, liquor, gasoline or hazardous material: 1A||Generally covered, but highly rated policies for delivering explosives and combustibles, so keep on truckin’|
Five Steps You Can Take to Weigh Your Disability Insurance Options
1. Nothing: You can do nothing and trust that your job and the government will take care of you in case you get hurt. Your job might, after you fill out paperwork, talk to HR, file an incidence report, wait for the report to clear and then see if you qualify, according to the American Council of Life Insurers.
2. Individual Disability Protection: According to the American Council of Life Insurers, Individual policies typically cover both occupational and non-occupational accidents and sickness for a selected period of time. Personal disability insurance is something you can take with you from job to job and can make up for any limitations in your job’s coverage. If your job qualifies for individual disability coverage, your policy can vary based on what premiums, waiting periods and benefits you specifically wish to have.
3. Social Security: Government disability programs exist for the uninsured, and they are the reason taxes get taken out of every paycheck. Social Security will provide long-term disability benefits based on salary, the number of years worked and total contributions to its program, but it replaces a limited portion of salary. The qualifications to receive benefits can be very strict, according to the Social Security Administration.
4. State-funded disability programs: The Social Security Administration notes that depending on your state, there may be some limited resources available for workmen’s compensation programs for work-related injuries or illnesses that offer rehabilitation programs.
5. Specialty Programs: There are even more limited programs for injured veterans, federal and state government employees, and other assorted industries like railroad employees, miners who develop illnesses like black lung disease and possibly people who suffer from work-related conditions like mesothelioma.