Base jumping (2) (1)

Life Insurance for Base Jumpers

Everything you need to know about finding life insurance for base jumping.

Adventure sports don’t get much more extreme, or more risky, than base jumping. If you’re a base jumping enthusiast and you’re looking for life insurance, finding an insurer that is willing to cover you can be extremely difficult.

However, it might be possible for an adviser to help you find life insurance you base jump or partake in extreme sports, so let’s take a look at how you can find affordable cover.

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What types of risks does base jumping include?

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to work out that base jumping is an incredibly dangerous sport. After all, the basic premise of this adrenalin-fuelled pastime is to strap on a wingsuit or parachute and then jump off a cliff or fixed structure. What could possibly go wrong?

Unfortunately, a whole lot. The BASE Fatality List (BFL), an unofficial record of base jumping fatalities dating back to 1981, features more than 320 names. In addition, the rate of deaths seems to be increasing, with more than 275 of those names recorded since 2000.

The simple fact is that if you’re a base jumper, the risk of death or serious injury is extremely high. A 2007 report from the Stavanger University in Norway, looked at the results of 20,850 base jumps carried out between 1995 and 2005 at Norway’s Kjerag Massif. During that 11-year period, there were 82 non-fatal accidents (1 in every 254 jumps), and 9 fatal accidents (1 in every 2,317 jumps).

Compare that with the statistics for fatal accidents in another extreme sport, base jumping has a 5-8 times greater risk of fatality skydiving, and it becomes clear just how hazardous base jumping can be.

What information will an insurer ask for?

If you participate in base jumping or any other extreme sport, you’ll need to provide a range of additional details about your adventure activity when you apply for cover. As well as all the usual questions about your age, gender and health status, you’ll also need to provide the following information:

  • The level of the extreme sport you participate in, for example, whether you’re a conventional base jumper or you use a wingsuit.
  • Details of any training you have received.
  • Your level of experience.
  • Any licences, certificates or qualifications you hold.
  • Any clubs or base jumping associations you belong to.
  • Where you go to participate in base jumping.
  • The number of times you participate in base jumping per year.
  • Whether you participate in competitions, record attempts or exhibitions.

These details can help an insurer determine the risk attached to your level of the sport, and the resulting likelihood that you will need to make a claim on your life insurance policy.

What specific factors can affect the cost of premiums and type of cover?

There are several specific factors an insurer will take into account when assessing your level of risk, such as:

  • your base jumping experience and training
  • the safety and jumping equipment you use
  • the locations and cliffs/structures you have jumped from
  • the heights you have jumped from, and
  • how often you jump.

These factors all influence the chances of you dying or suffering a serious injury in a base jumping accident. The higher your level of risk, the more you will have to pay for cover; or there may be exclusions and restrictions added to your policy.

How to get life insurance that will cover you

Taking all of the above into account, does life insurance cover base jumping? Yes, it is possible to find life insurance if you’re a base jumper. Although many insurers will simply refuse outright to provide any cover, there are some underwriters that take a more flexible approach to extreme sports.

There are two ways base jumpers can access life insurance:

  • By paying a premium loading. This involves paying a higher premium to cover the higher level of risk associated with base jumping. Insurers impose a percentage loading up to three times the standard premium, allowing you to continue base jumping and still maintain life insurance cover. For example, if your premium was $1,000 and a 200% loading of $2,000 applied, your total premium would be $3,000.
  • By excluding base jumping from cover. Some insurers may only agree to cover you if base jumping is excluded from your policy. This means that death or injuries resulting from your participation in base jumping or any activities related to base jumping will not be covered by your policy, but you’ll still enjoy all the other benefits of life insurance protection.

There are benefits and drawbacks to each of the above options depending on your circumstances, so it’s worth talking to an insurance broker about how to find the right insurer and policy for your needs.

Will you be covered professionally?

Most life insurers will exclude professional or paid participation in sport from their cover, so you may struggle to find a provider that will provide the protection you need. Make sure you check the list of general exclusions before you apply for a policy, so you can be sure when cover will and will not apply.

You can also speak to an insurance broker for specialist advice. A broker will be able to help you assess your needs and find insurers that can offer appropriate cover.

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Maurice Thach

An insurance researcher and writer for who loves finding an answer to the question "Am I covered for ________?" Maurice has also completed a Tier 1 Life Insurance and a Tier 2 General Insurance Certification under ASIC's Regulatory Guide 146. This means he can confidently provide general advice for life insurance and non-life insurance products.

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