Finding life insurance cover when you’re in the police force.
Life insurance can be an important form of cover, especially if you work in a high-risk occupation. Police work definitely qualifies, ranking as one of the more dangerous industries and specifically one of the more dangerous jobs.
Not all insurers will cover police officers, which means it can be difficult to find the right level of cover. This guide explains what you need to know in order to find cover that works for you.
How do insurers classify occupations
Insurers have different ways of categorising occupations. Typically, it will be broken down into three different categories.
- Full cover. Full access to life insurance products with no additional occupation-based premium loading or conditions.
- Conditional cover. Limitations or additional costs may apply to your cover.
- No cover. The insurer will not cover you. Either specific products, such as income protection insurance, may not be available, or the insurer will not offer any products at all.
How do police workers fit into this classifications?
Insurers will generally break police work down into further subcategories in order to assign a risk level. The category an insurer places you in depends on your day-to-day activities of your role.
- Motorcycle police
- Airwing or other aerial
- Police diving
- Bomb squad
- Tactical or special weapons
- Other police officers
- Administrative police work
- Superintendent or other managerial
If your day-to-day role includes motorcycling, flying or diving you may be uninsurable, or otherwise classified as an extremely high risk, while officers whose roles are largely administrative are on the other end of the scale and may be insurable in an equivalent way to white collar workers.
Example of how one insurer classifies different police officers
|Type of firefighter||How they are covered?|
|Airwing or bomb disposal|
Conditions that may apply to cover
If you are deemed to have a high-risk role, insurers may either not offer any life insurance at all or will impose limitations or other cover restrictions. For police workers, this will usually be considered on a case-by-case basis per application. Generally, unless you perform only administrative or other desk work, you can expect higher premiums than other occupations. Conditions applied can include:
- Premium loadings: This is typically applied in the form of a set price increase per $1,000 of cover. For example, handling a weapon in your day-to-day role may come with a price increase of $2 a month per $1,000 sum insured.
- Exclusions: An insurer may not cover you for certain events in order to offset the risk. For example, an insurer may offer applicants cover at the usual cost, but will reserve the right to not pay claims resulting from gunshot wounds.
- Specific product unavailability: In line with your risks, specific products may not be available. For example, an insurer might not offer income protection cover to any non-administrative police workers, but will still offer death cover and TPD insurance.
Different insurers will offer different products, conditions and costs in line with their own underwriting criteria.
The risks faced by police
Needless to say, police responders and other officers face a range of risks in their everyday work that other occupations don’t. Some are obvious and some are less clear but may still have significant impacts on your insurability. Here are the main risks according to the Australian Institute of Criminology:
- Homicide: Statistically this is an extremely small risk. Almost all other forms of interpersonal violence and other physical hazards are more likely to affect your premiums. Being a police diver or pilot can be a much more substantial risk, as can owning a firearm and being at increased risk of self-inflicted harm.
- Vehicle accidents: Driving, especially as a motorcycle officer, can be one of the most lethal risks police officers face. The risks may be substantially exacerbated by stress and fatigue.
- Violent assault: Police officers are at exceptionally high risk of assault, with approximately 10% of officers being victims of assault each year, in particular from unarmed attacks as well as bottles and syringes. The less experienced an officer is the more likely they are to be assaulted. Knives and firearms are exceptionally uncommon weapons overall and injuries tend not to require time off work.
- Communicable diseases: While conducting searches, investigating crimes or arresting suspects police may be exposed to infectious diseases. The risk of puncture wounds from infected syringes and infectious disease contraction from bodily fluids is considerable.
- Stress and fatigue: The stress of the occupation and the wide range of psychological stressors can contribute to the risk of illness and the chance of injury This is a result of fatigue, increased risk of alcohol or drug abuse, increased chance of heart disease, insomnia, gastrointestinal disorders and more. It can have a considerable impact on the odds of making an insurance claim at some point, and insurers may be particularly hesitant to offer income protection cover based on the disproportionately high incidence of worker’s compensation claims by police.