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Securing Life Insurance When You Have Dangerous Hobbies

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Most people know that your health plays a significant role in what you’ll pay for life insurance, but did you know that your hobbies can make a huge difference, too?

It’s true. You’ll be asked about your hobbies when you apply for life insurance. But unfortunately, some hobbies could result in higher rates or even a denial of your application. 

The reasoning is simple. Tending to your garden or attending your bi-weekly dance class will unlikely put you in danger. That’s why life insurance companies don’t view those hobbies as increasing your risk of dying while your policy is in effect.

However, there is an elevated risk if you enjoy hang-gliding or motorcycle racing as one of your regular hobbies. Insurance companies will charge you more for hobbies considered “high risk” or “dangerous.”

That might not seem fair if you’ve been safely participating in the high-risk hobby you love for years, but it makes a lot of sense from the insurance company’s perspective.

Think of it this way. There were 13 deaths from skydiving out of the 3.3 million Americans who dove in 2018. That’s a death rate of only about .0004 percent.

That sounds pretty low, right?

By comparison, a biweekly dance class is likely to increase your lifespan. After all, numerous studies have found that exercise adds to your life expectancy. 

So, if your hobby increases your odds of dying, even by such a slim percentage, the insurance company will charge you more than someone whose hobby decreases their odds of dying.

Read on to learn what hobbies are often considered dangerous, how much more you can expect to pay, and how you can still get a great rate.

Hobbies Life Insurance Companies Consider Dangerous

What counts as a dangerous hobby can be a bit of a gray area. Some insurance companies will be more concerned about certain hobbies than others will. Some hobbies will be considered dangerous for one company and not another. 

Hobbies that are almost always considered dangerous by all life insurance companies include:

Parachuting – No matter how much you trust your parachute, it’ll make your life insurance company nervous. So if you enjoy parachuting, your rates are likely to go up.

Skydiving – You don’t want to think about what could go wrong during a skydive, but a life insurance company will. Your rates will go up if you’re a regular skydiver.

Hang gliding – Just like parachuting and skydiving, insurance companies consider hang gliding to be high risk.

Bungee jumping – This is another hobby you must trust in your equipment before leaping. Just know that your insurance company will also raise your rates when you do.

Rock climbing – Rock climbing can raise your insurance rates, especially if you’re a fan of national parks and other open nature areas.

Ice climbing – Like rock climbing, ice climbing is considered a high-risk hobby by most life insurance companies.

Motorsports – Motorcycle racing and other motorsports can cause an increase in your rates.

Scuba diving – Scuba diving is generally considered a dangerous hobby by insurance companies, especially if you prefer to engage in deep dives over 100ft depth, open water dives, night dives, or cave dives.

Piloting private planes – You won’t see increased rates if you need to fly regularly for work, but you will see an increase if you do your own private piloting.

Most types of racing – Everything from boat racing to dune racing to drag racing can raise your life insurance rates.

Less common high-risk hobbies

Some of the high-risk activities listed above probably didn’t surprise you. After all, it’s not hard to see why a life insurance company would be more worried about a skydive than an art class.

A few other hobbies can be considered high-risk that might surprise you. Some of these hobbies might be things you wouldn’t have considered dangerous, while others are more obscure or niche hobbies.

Some of the more surprising hobbies that might raise your life insurance rates include:

Adventure travel – Life insurance companies will not ding you if you travel to take your yearly beach vacation. However, you might pay a higher rate if you regularly travel to rainforests or remote areas. 

Hot air ballooning – A hot air balloon ride might seem like a fun afternoon adventure, but you’ll probably pay more for life insurance if you regularly pilot hot air balloons. This one is the same camp as parachuting, piloting a private jet, or other hobbies that keep you high off the ground.

Triathlon competition – You might be puzzled by this one. Triathlons require you to be in excellent shape, and excellent shape leads to lower life insurance rates, right? Well, not in this case. Intense triathlon training raises your muscle mass, leading to a higher BMI. Triathlon athletes tend also to have high cholesterol and other out-of-range lab results.

Street Luging – Street luging is an extreme sport that involves racing a luge board down a paved surface. If street luging is your activity of choice, you might pay more for life insurance.

Surfing – Some insurance companies consider surging to be a high-risk hobby. Other insurance companies will consider your skill level when looking at your hobby. So, if you’re a certified instructor, for example, it might not raise your rates. The rules for surfers vary depending on the company, so it’s a good idea to check with an agent if you’re unsure.

Mixed Martial Arts – Mixed martial arts is considered a high-risk activity by many insurance companies. This is true no matter if you compete in large competitions or just local matches.

Freerunning – Freerunning is a sport where participants use objects around them on the street as a sort of obstacle course. Participants jump, flip, and spin off of objects while maintaining their running speed. Life insurance companies might raise your rates if this is how you spend your weekends.

Occasional Hobbies Vs Regular Hobbies

It’s important to note that how often you participate in these hobbies makes a difference. Hobbies you’ve done a few times or even things you do yearly might not impact your rates. If you took a scuba lesson on vacation or rock climb twice a year while camping, you probably wouldn’t see a rate increase.

The more often you do an activity, the greater the change is something unexpected will happen, which means there’s a great risk for an insurance company. That’s why a single hot air balloon picnic won’t raise your rates, but owning a hot air balloon might.

In general, if you’ve done something once or twice or think you might try it once someday, you don’t need to tell your insurance company that. Life insurance companies consider a  hobby to be something you do and plan to regularly. 

However, there are exceptions. Even a single bungee jump or skydive could affect your policy if it was done in a certain timeframe of applying for coverage. So, if you’re planning on a one-time bungee jump or skydive, tell your insurance company beforehand.

Since you’re telling them upfront, your life insurance company might make an exception. If your insurance company knows and approves, you’ll be covered if something goes wrong.

Higher Life Insurance Rates for Dangerous Hobbies

So how much more will you pay if you have a dangerous hobby? It’s hard to say. Your rates will depend on the company, your hobby, and of course, the rate classification you’d otherwise qualify for.

Many insurance companies charge what’s called a “flat extra” for dangerous hobbies. This is the additional amount you’ll pay for your coverage due to your level of participation in a dangerous hobby.

For example, let’s say you apply for a $500,000 policy over a 20-year term. You qualify for the standard rate classification, and your cost for the coverage is $584 a year, or $50.22 a month.

During the underwriting process, it was noted on the life insurance application that you frequently participate in speed boat racing. The life insurance company views your hobby as high risk, but rather than declining you for coverage, they offer you the policy with a flat extra of an additional $2 per every $1000 of your death benefit for the first five years of your term.

That’s an extra $1000 a year, or an extra $5000 over the course of those first five years, in addition to the base annual cost of $584. Your total annual premium would equal $1,584 through policy years 1-5.

After the first five years, you’d no longer be paying the flat extra, and the cost of your coverage would revert back to the $584 annual price or $50.22 monthly cost for the remaining 15 years of the term contract.

However, as you can see, your rates with a flat extra would be more than doubled for the first five years as a way for the life insurance company to offset the financial risk of insuring the high risk hobby.

Not all companies charge a flat extra fee. Some companies might offer you a more expensive rate classification if your participation in a risky hobby is only on a limited occurrence.

For example, you’re in amazing health and meet the qualifications for the best risk classification of preferred plus, but because you participated in a skydiving jump a little over a year ago. The insurance company may decide to approve you at the standard rates rather than charging a flat extra rate since your participation is not partaken in regularly.

Exclusions are also a possibility. Having a flat extra rate attached to your life insurance policy can be costly, even if it is only for a limited number of years. It may even change your decision to purchasing the coverage needed to protect your family due to the large increase in cost.

To avoid that from happening and reducing the cost a flat extra would have on a life insurance policy, many companies will offer an exclusion rider.

An exclusion rider for a risky hobby is an agreement written into the life insurance contract stating that if you were to pass away while participating in your risky hobby, the insurance company would not pay out the death benefit.

The insurance company would still pay out a benefit for all other deaths except for a death that was a direct cause due to the risky hobby that was excluded from the life insurance contract.

How the Contestability Period Impacts Dangerous Hobbies

The first two years of all insurance policies is a contestability period. During this period, an insurance company can investigate claims made against the policy. If they find evidence of misrepresentation or fraud, they could deny payout to your beneficiary. Obviously, that’s the last thing anyone wants.

What does this mean if you have a dangerous hobby? 

Be truthful in your application. It can be easy to think that you’re saving yourself thousands of dollars by leaving out your hobby, especially if you’ve never been injured while participating.

However, this could backfire. If you were to die while participating in your hobby during the contestability period, your family could be denied your death benefit. 

For example. Let’s say you’re a Mixed Martial Arts fighter. You don’t mention it on your life insurance policy, and you’re able to secure a great rate. However, 14 months later, you sustain a serious head injury and unfortunately pass away due to the result of your match.

When your beneficiary makes a claim, the life insurance company could start an investigation. If they find out you did Mixed Martial Arts every week for years and didn’t put it on your application, they could deny your claim if it’s within the first two policy years.  

Not mentioning your hobby could also have another consequence with future applications. 

Let’s say you applied for coverage with a previous insurance company, and due to an increase of premium caused by a risky hobby, you decide to decline the coverage because of the cost.

Instead, you apply with another company and opt not to disclose your risky hobby. While it is never a good idea to lie on your application, your previous application results will have likely been submitted to the Medical Information Bureau (MIB), which stores records of any past insurance applications.

When you try to apply for insurance again, the new company will see the record MIB, which is highly likely to lead to questions from the current company you now have an application with. 

So, while it might seem like a harmless omission, lying on a life insurance application isn’t worth it. You might save money in the short term, but your policy won’t be secure. You could end up losing the policy or costing your loved ones your death benefit amount.

When a dangerous hobby causes a denial of life insurance

You won’t always be charged extra for your dangerous hobby or even be offered an exclusion if your participation level is so frequent that the insurance company cannot take on the risk.

In some cases, your application will be denied. Some companies aren’t able to cover people who participate in certain hobbies.

However, remember that companies treat different hobbies differently. One company might not insure private pilots, while another might be hesitant about someone who drag races every weekend.

So, if you get denied, don’t give up. There is a good chance that another insurance company will be able to cover your hobby.

Finding a Life Insurance Company if you Have Dangerous Hobbies

You don’t have to limit your life insurance coverage just because you have high-risk hobbies. No matter what your hobby is, you can find competitive rates. A good place to start is working with an agent or broker. An experienced agent or broker will be able to help you find companies that will cover people with your hobby. They’ll know which carries are a good bet and which to avoid.

Agents and brokers help thousands of people get coverage in complicated situations. They’ll be able to guide you through the process. They can match you with the right companies, show you quotes, and help you through the application process. In some cases, an agent can even argue your case if an insurance company is on the fence about offering you a policy.

If you’re really struggling to get coverage, an agent can show you guaranteed acceptance policies. As the name implies, you can’t be turned down for this type of policy. They generally cost more than standard term policies, but you’ll have coverage.

If your hobby is not insurable by any life insurance company, another option worth looking into is an accidental death insurance policy. These types of insurance policies pay a death benefit if death is caused due to an accident and in almost all cases are underwritten as guaranteed approval meaning you cannot be denied coverage. 

People with dangerous hobbies need life insurance

It might sound complicated to apply for life insurance if you have a dangerous hobby. It’s understandable if the potential of paying double or needing to work with an agent is giving your second thoughts. However, you shouldn’t let that stop you from applying for coverage.

Life insurance policies protect your loved ones in the case of your death. The financial cushion of life insurance policies can be a lifeline for families who’ve lost someone. Your life insurance policy won’t bring you back if something were to happen, but it could keep your family from losing their home or facing other financial hardships. 

For this reason, having a dangerous hobby makes it even more important you have a policy in place. Hopefully, nothing ever happens to you while you’re climbing those ice cliffs, but if it ever does, you want your family to be protected. Your policy might cost more, but the peace of mind it provides will be invaluable.

Frequently Asked Questions About Dangerous Hobbies and Life Insurance

You’re not alone if you still have questions. Read through some common questions, and their answers, below.

What if I don't know if my hobby is dangerous?

Since what’s considered dangerous can vary from company to company, it can be hard to know if your hobby qualifies. It’s one thing if you spend all your weekend’s skydiving, but what if you enjoy shallow water scuba diving a few times a year?

It will depend on the company, and even then, since applications are underwritten on a case-by-case basis, it’s hard to say.

So, if you think you have a hobby that might be considered dangerous, talk to an agent. They can let you know if it’s nothing to worry about or match you with companies that will work with you if it is considered dangerous.

Does it make a difference if you're really good at your hobby?

It can. Some hobbies will prompt more questions. The answers to these questions could make a difference in your price or even in your approval.

Some question you might be asked include:

  • What protective gear do you use?
  • What other safety precautions do you take?
  • How many years have you been participating?
  • Do you have any licenses or certifications?
  • Do you do your hobby solo or guided?
  • If you rock climb where do you do it and what elevations do you climb?
  • If you scuba dive how deep do you dive?
  • Have you had any accidents in the past?

Be honest about the answers to these and any other questions the insurance company asks you. They can make a big impact on how dangerous the insurance company thinks your hobby is.

That’s not to say you could convince an insurance company that skydiving is safe, but you might be able to convince them your guided rock climb while in protective climbing gear is less of a risk.

The less of a risk you are, the less you’ll pay.

Are there any dangerous hobbies insurance companies won't charge extra for?

Again, this depends on the company. What one company views as dangerous another might not. That said, there are some extreme sports and adventure hobbies you should be okay with. This includes:

  • Trail hiking
  • Cycling 
  • Mountain Biking
  • Snorkeling
  • Skateboarding
  • Snow Skiing
  • Waterskiing 
  • Snowboarding

This isn’t a hard and fast rule. It will depend on the company but also on how you do the activity in question. For example, you’re probably okay as a skier or snowboarder.

However, if your passion is helicopter skiing (heliskiing) or helicopter snowboarding, which involves jumping out of a helicopter taking you to ski or snowboard in remote locations, you might be back in dangerous hobby territory.

Reach out to an agent if you’re not sure.

Are any hobbies an instant denial?

You can find coverage somewhere, no matter your hobby. However, there area few hobbies that are more likely to your application denied:

  • Deep-sea diving or cave diving
  • Ice climbing
  • Rock climbing outside the United States
  • Parachuting from cliffs (Base jumping)
  • Skydiving more than 100x per year

Different insurance companies look at hobbies differently, but it’s safe to say that it’ll be harder to get insurance if you’re a cave diver than it would be if you’re a surfer. It’s not impossible, though. An agent can help you find a company that will offer you coverage. 

What if I can't afford dangerous hobby life insurance?

First, it’s important to remember that not all companies will view your hobby the same way. One company might want a heft flat extra, but another company might not charge anything additional at all.

So your first step should be to compare quotes or reach out to an agent. 

It’s also important to keep in mind that many companies only charge that flat extra for a set amount of time, such as the first five years of your policy. So you’ll pay more at first, but it won’t be permanent. For example, if you bought a 30-year policy, you’d have 25 of those years without the extra cost.

However, it’s also important to have a policy you can afford. If the quotes you’re getting are all just too high for your budget, you might need to adjust the policy you’re looking for. A smaller benefit amount can help, especially if the company charges a flat extra. 

Let’s go back to the speed boat racer example from above. They were looking at paying an additional $1,000 a year and $5,000 over the first five years of their $500,000 policy.

Let’s cut that down to a $100,000 policy and assume that same $2 for every $1000 flat extra. That’s an extra $200 per year and an extra $1000 over the first five years. That works out to a more budget-friendly extra $17 a month.

Remember, it’s always better to have a policy you can afford than no policy at all. Don’t jump to lowering your benefit amount, though. Shop around or see if an agent can help you find the benefit amount you want at a price that fits your budget.

Risky Hobbies & Life Insurance - Final Thoughts

Don’t let your hobby keep you from a great insurance policy. No matter your hobby, you can still find a great policy at a great price. You can find a company that will work with you to get the coverage your family needs. 

If you’re not sure where to start, No Medical Exam Quotes can help. Just fill out our short online form, and you’ll get quotes from the best, no exam required, life insurance companies. Then, use your quotes to find the company and policy that’s right for you.

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Picture of Jeffrey Manola - Life Insurance Expert
Jeffrey Manola - Life Insurance Expert

Jeffrey Manola is the founder of No Medical Exam Quotes, an online insurance agency that strongly focuses on helping people shop for the perfect life insurance policy. He is a licensed life insurance expert and content creator for the website.

Before becoming a life insurance agent, he served in the United States Marine Corps, transitioning from serving his country to helping families find affordable life insurance coverage beginning in 2009. Since starting a career as a licensed life insurance agent, Jeffrey has helped thousands of families with their life insurance needs.

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