High risk life insurance

Life insurance for high risk individuals is often hard to find and more expensive, but it's still worth getting — speak to a broker.

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What sort of occupations and duties are classified as high risk?

Unsure whether your occupation might be classified as a high-risk job by your life insurer? Occupations that are commonly placed in the high-risk category include those that involve:

  • Working at heights, for example, as a window cleaner
  • Working underground, for example, as a miner
  • Working with firearms, such as if you are employed as a police officer
  • Working with explosives or dangerous chemicals, for example, if you work in the demolition industry
  • Serving in the armed forces
  • Working in any other occupation in a war zone, for example, as a journalist
  • Working in an occupation that exposes you to diseases, such as working as a doctor or nurse
  • Working with heavy machinery, for example, on large construction sites
  • Working in any occupation that exposes you to danger, such as if you’re a firefighter or an airline pilot

How does a high-risk occupation affect premium?

OccupationRisk levelAverage monthly premium*
Office WorkerLow risk$92.51
Construction supervisorMedium$115.73
Train driverMedium to high$138.34

*Risk levels are to be taken as a rough guide. Average monthly premium has been taken from finder's quote engine. Quotes last checked on October 2016 and are subject to change.

How do insurers usually determine high-risk occupations?

Each insurer will vary in the way it assesses the risk of your job. However, as a general guide:

  • Overall risk of your job title
  • Your individual duties and the hazards they involve
  • The environment in which you work in

Here's how your occupation could be classified:

RiskDetailsHow does this rating impact my policy?
LowLow to no manual work e.g. office workers, retail supervisorsLikely no effects
MediumWorker that involves manual labour e.g. a tradesmenHigher premiums
Medium to highHeavy manual work e.g. A factory machinistHigher premiums
High Jobs that involve dangerous activities and environments eg, a minerHigher premiums or exclusions
Non-insurableAn extremely risky job e.g. firefighting (for some brands)No cover
Individual considerationAn occupation that's not listed by the insurerFurther assessment of job required

What other methods (aside from job) will insurers use to determine risk?

Life insurers take several steps to assess whether or not you are a high-risk applicant. Each insurer employs a team of underwriters who determine whether or not your application for cover will be accepted and, if so, whether any terms and conditions will apply to your cover.

To determine whether an individual is high risk, the insurer may:

  • Ask questions about your health and lifestyle during your cover application
  • Require you to undergo a medical examination
  • Require you to provide medical reports
  • Take into account non-work related factors such as pastimes, lifestyle and smoking status

Once the underwriters have all the information needed to calculate your level of risk, they can then decide whether or not to offer you cover. If cover is provided there may be terms and conditions attached, such as premium loadings or specific exclusions.

If you clean windows on low-rise buildings your risk may not be the same as high-rise window cleaners

It’s worth pointing out that just because you work in one of these professions it doesn’t necessarily mean that you will automatically be classified as high risk.

Insurance providers will instead use further criteria to determine the likelihood of you suffering injury, illness or death as a result of your occupation, some of which include:

  • How hazardous your individual role is. For example, if you work in the mining industry and this sometimes involves the use of heavy machinery, the insurer will require details on the type of machinery you work with and how often you do so as part of your job. If you work at heights, you’ll need to provide details on the average height where work takes place and how long you spend working at that height.
  • How much experience you have in your position. You may find that someone with ten years of experience pays cheaper life insurance premiums than someone who is only in their first year in the same occupation.

Advice for those in high risk occupations seeking cover

If you’re a high-risk individual and you’re looking for life insurance or income protection to protection in case you can no longer work, the good news is that it’s still possible to find an insurer. Keep the following points in mind to ensure that you find a policy that matches all your cover requirements:

  • Don’t be discouraged. Don’t let your classification as a high-risk individual put you off obtaining cover. Life insurance offers crucial financial protection for you and your loved ones, so it’s worth searching around for affordable cover.
  • Shop around. Australia’s life insurance industry is highly competitive, so don’t just settle for the first insurer you find. Compare quotes from a range of providers to find the best value for money.
  • Reduce your risk. Lowering your level of risk can reduce the cost of life insurance premiums and also open up the range of cover options. You may be able to reduce your risk by switching jobs within your industry, such as taking on an office job in construction rather than working on a construction site. Of course, changing jobs won’t be an option for many so it’s worth looking at other ways to lower your risk, such as quitting smoking or stopping your participation in adventure activities.
  • Read the fine print. It’s always a good idea to check the exclusions and restrictions that apply to your life insurance policy. This will help you understand in which situations you will and won’t be covered, including any claims that arise due to your occupation.
  • Get help. Finding the right life insurance policy can be tricky and confusing. If you need help, make an appointment with a trusted insurance adviser. He or she should have an in-depth knowledge of the insurance industry and can help you find a policy that perfectly suits your requirements.

Is risk the only factor that increases the cost of my income protection?

Not necessarily. If you have a higher income that needs to be covered this will likely increase the cost of your income protection. Additionally, having the most dangerous job doesn't mean you'll earn the highest income as shown below:

RankDangerous industryAverage incomeRank
1Agriculture, forestry and fishing$76,630*8
2Transport, postal and warehousing$89,7995
5Electricity, gas, water and waste services$105,0302
6Wholesale trade$81,4426
8Arts and recreation services$79,0307
9Health care and social assistance$90,1894
10Administrative and support services$73,88210

Source: finder.com.au, abs.gov.au, payscale.com

A brief overview of life insurance types

There are four main types of life insurance, each of which offers a very important form of cover:

Final questions you might want answered

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