Life and trauma insurance for full time and volunteer firefighters
Life insurance is an important form of cover, but it can also be more expensive for the people who need it the most. This is because occupational and everyday risks play a large role in determining the cost of policies. To work out just how dangerous a job is, insurers put occupations into different categories.
Can firefighters get cover? It depends how an insurer classifies you
While many insurers will classify firefighters in the highest risk category there are some provisions for cover. This depends on:
- The type of firefighter you are. Gas and oil firefighters may be uninsurable under some policies.
- The nature of your job. Are you mostly doing admin work or are you on call?
- The type of cover you are applying for. It's harder to get income protection in comparison to trauma insurance.
3 ways insurers will cover you
If you're not deemed "uninsurable" you will typically be covered in three ways:
- Normal cover. You are covered just like a normal occupation (this is usually only for firefighters who only perform admin duties)
- Loading on premium. Your premium is increased to reflect the risk of your job.
- Special conditions. You are covered with special conditions e.g. no cover for injuries on the job.
Fortunately, not all insurers use the same categories. With a bit of shopping around, firefighters can still find the right life cover with the right benefits.
Health and community services (which includes firefighting) is ranked number 8 on the list of Australia’s most dangerous industries. It has exceptionally high claims and injury rates, but thankfully few fatalities.
Your ability to get insurance as firefighter will typically depend on a few factors. The most common being:
- The nature of your job. For instance a chief firefighter that mostly partakes in admin work will have an easier time applying for cover over an oil and gas firefighter on call.
- The type of insurance you are going for. Basic life insurance will easier to apply for then an income protection policy.
How do insurers categorise firefighters?
The cost of your policy will vary depending on the type of cover the policy offers and how the insurer categorises firefighting occupations. The grouping, and what each group means for your cover, will vary widely among insurers. For example, here’s how a few different insurers group firefighters.
|Type of firefighter||How they are covered?|
|Airport, city and forestry firefighters|
|Oil and natural gas firefighters|
|Fire chiefs and seniors officers|
|Type of firefighter||How are they covered?|
|Type of firefighter||How are they covered?|
|Fire chiefs (Admin work)|
These groupings are just the first step and are not set in stone. Your category is much more dependent on your actual day-to-day tasks rather than your job title. Fire chiefs, for example, will probably not be put into the white collar category if they still respond to calls.
Should I look to get a combined policy?
A combined life insurance policy can have all the elements of cover, including death, total permanent disability (TPD), trauma and income protection. But, if an insurer has placed your job (e.g. firefighting) in a high risk category, it might not be possible feasible to get all this cover under the same umbrella. Instead, one might get different types of cover from different places. For example, a firefighter could look for different cover through the following policies:
What does trauma insurance provide?
Trauma insurance pays out a lump sum in the event you suffer a specific type of health event. Most conditions will result in a lump sum payout of the total sum insured and the closure of your policy. Payout conditions vary between policies, but can include the following injuries and illnesses:
- Accidental death caused by physical injuries
- Loss of limbs or eyes
- Severe burns
- Hearing loss
- Heart attack
- And many others, depending on the policy
You can use the lump sum payment for anything you want, but people often use it to supplement health insurance or workers compensation payouts, pay off debts to help manage finances or adjust to the new situation.
The unique nature of the cover and the payout means trauma insurance can be a particularly useful form of cover to have alongside workers compensation and other types of protection. Whether this and other forms of cover are available will depend on which insurance provider you go to and how they categorise your job.
Life insurance premiums are based on your individual circumstances and the insurer. The only way to find out how much a policy will cost is to get a quote.
The table below, based on publicly available data from finder’s quote engine, shows the average cost of trauma insurance for male firefighters, depending on age and whether it’s a standalone policy or bundled with $500,000 of life cover.
|Age and average monthly premiums||$100,000 trauma insurance*||$200,000 trauma insurance*||$500,000 life insurance with $100,000 trauma insurance*||$500,000 life insurance with $200,000 trauma insurance*|
*Disclaimer: These prices where drawn from the finder.com.au life insurance comparison engine and were accurate when this article was published on February 9th 2017. Please note the prices are subject to change and may vary depending on your personal situation and finances.
If you’re a firefighter, it’s likely that life insurance will simply be more expensive for you than for other occupations. Some policies will simply exclude firefighters if they perceive firefighters to have a high risk of being injured.
If this happens, you may be able to depend on the following:
- Another policy
- Workers compensation from your employer
- Default super cover from your employer
Use this comparison tool to get quotes from over a dozen Australian insurers and see how much it costs. Simply fill in your occupation and adjust the sliders to balance your limits and different cover types. You will then get an on-the-spot estimate, and can change your options to find a price that works for you.