Everything You Need to Know About Purchasing High Risk Life Insurance

high risk life insurance buyers guideHigh risk life insurance is important. It gives people who might otherwise not qualify for traditional life insurance a way to protect themselves and their families.

As a result of the higher risk that the insurance company assumes by covering these individuals, the amount of coverage, term lengths and benefits built into the policy are typically reduced when compared to traditional policies. Another important thing to note is that the cost of high risk life insurance is typically a bit higher than other coverage.

Due to the high costs, and difficulty some people have finding affordable high risk life insurance, we wrote this guide to explore the options, and more, in order to help you understand How to Go About Getting High Risk Life Insurance. 

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Is High Risk Life Insurance is Right for You?

For people with certain occupations, high risk life insurance may be your only option. For others, you may be right on the line of what is considered high risk. Other factors like health conditions, and lifestyle also affect whether you fit into this category. Let’s take a look at some of the most common reasons why some people only qualify for this type of coverage.

Occupations That Qualify for High Risk Life Insurance

There are many occupations considered dangerous by life insurance companies, such as:

    • Fishermen: including commercial fishing, fish farming, and even fish processing
    • Loggers
    • Pilots
    • Roofers: especially commercial roofers since they work at higher elevations
    • Garbage Collectors
    • Farmers/Ranchers
    • Truck Drivers
    • Linemen
    • Professional Athletes

Just because you work in these industries does not mean you are automatically put into a high risk category. Residential roofers, small time farmers, even part time truck drivers might not face anything more than a higher premium or fee added to traditional policies they qualify for.

Some of the most high risk occupations may result in denial of coverage entirely in which case the burial or no exam options might be the only possible policies. These include:

    • Hazardous Waste or Explosives Driver
    • High Rise Steel Worker/Smelter
    • Oil and Gas Drilling (Miscellaneous Extractor)
Learn More: Don’t see your profession here? This guide to high risk life insurance for dangerous occupations should have all the information you need.

What Occupations Are Dangerous, But Can Still Get Regular Life Insurance?

There are many occupations considered dangerous which still can qualify for regular life insurance. These typically include occupations like:

    • Police Officers
    • Firefighters
    • Emergency Responders
    • Commercial Pilots

What is important to remember when it comes to finding life insurance for high risk occupations is that companies determine your level of risk by a few factors:

    • The average fatality/injury rate in your profession
    • The overall effect a fatality/injury would have on your family finances
For Example: While professional athletes may technically have less fatalities per thousand workers than police officers, they have more injuries. Moreover, they have much higher salaries, often 10x higher or more.

This means that if a professional athlete gets injured, it would have a much more substantial effect on their income. A police officer may be able to return to work in a few weeks after tearing an ACL (but be stationed in the office until they recover), but a pro athlete could miss a season, two, or potentially lose their career.

So, while an occupation like commercial pilot may sound like a dangerous job, in the industry there is approximately one commercial plane crash for every 11 million flights. Which if you do the math, makes it technically less dangerous than being a truck driver. This type of statistical breakdown is really how high risk is determined by life insurance companies.

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What Types of Jobs Offer Group High Risk Life Insurance?

Many of the jobs that are considered high risk or too dangerous for even high riskeverything you need to know about high risk life insurancelife insurance, will offer group policies as part of the employment benefits. These include many of the occupations listed above; such as high-rise workers and oil and gas drilling personnel.

Military personnel in certain branches such as special forces are also considered too high risk for most life insurance companies, and will likely be given an opportunity to obtain coverage through a group plan.

Health Conditions That Require High Risk Life Insurance

There are certain health conditions that require high risk life insurance. Some of the more common health problems that put people in the high risk category are:

    • Stroke
    • Cancer
    • Fibromyalgia
    • Neurological disorders
    • Pancreatic disease
    • Epilepsy
    • Diabetes
    • Alzheimer’s

The severity of your condition also influences risk factors.

For Example: Someone who is recovering from Stage 1 cancer may qualify for traditional no exam life insurance coverage, which can have lower rates than that of high risk life insurance policies. Or, someone with properly managed diabetes should be able to qualify for better coverage.

When it comes to the management of pre-existing health conditions, life insurance companies primarily look for:

    • How poor your condition is
    • What steps you have taken to manage it
    • How long you have gone without the need for treatment
    • How good your overall health is

Those who are able to manage health problems after being diagnosed will usually be able to qualify for better coverage, unless the health problem itself is life threatening.

Your Habits and Lifestyle Also Help Determine Risk

People with dangerous careers are not the only people who may be considered high risk in the eyes of insurance companies. Some of these include:

    • Skydivers
    • Base jumpers
    • Rock climbers
    • Surfers
    • Hang gliders
    • Recreational pilots

Many other hobbies can qualify someone as a high risk. Basically, if you would consider yourself an adrenaline junkie, and your family and friends question your sanity based on your hobbies – you probably are considered to be a high risk individual by life insurance companies.

Naturally, this type of recreational activity can raise concerns from insurance providers, as they expose you to higher risks than many professions every could.

As a result, people who enjoy these types of hobbies in their spare time are likely to experience higher life insurance rates. In some cases, people with particularly dangerous hobbies might even be disqualified from traditional life insurance coverage, forcing them to take out a high risk life policy.

The same can be said for smokers. Smoking is one of the most dangerous things you can do, and life insurance companies are very aware of this. In fact, to them, smoking is considered such a high risk activity, that life insurance rates for smokers are often 2-5 times higher than non-smokers.

This is because smoking exposes you to dozens of long term risks that can affect your health and life expectancy such as:

    • Emphysema
    • COPD
    • Lung Cancer
    • Etc…

While this can put a damper on your parade, it doesn’t mean that smokers and adrenaline junkies cannot find affordable life insurance, it just means you have to know where to look.

Pro Tip: For smokers, one of the best companies you can choose is TransAmerica. They have extremely affordable rates and cater specifically to smokers. Learn more about them and their coverage for high risk individuals in our comprehensive review.

What Are the Other Life Insurance Options for High Risk Individuals?

For people who ride the line between high risk life insurance and traditional life insurance policies, it can be confusing to determine which type of coverage is right for you and your family.

Should you go with high risk life insurance with reduced coverage for an affordable rate? Or should you aim to get more coverage from a traditional police at an increased rate?

More importantly, what other options do you have?

If you fit into the High Risk category, there are actually quite a few options available to you. Here is a brief outline:

Term Life Insurance for High Risk Individuals

Term life insurance, as the name suggests, a policy that exists for a specific term length. Typically, these terms exist in lengths varying between 10 and 30 years (normally in 5 year increments). This type of coverage can easily be converted into whole life policies, and also can be added to, with additional term coverage when needed.

This is the most common type of life insurance policy, because it is simple, easy to expand upon, and typically extremely affordable.

Who is this best for?

    • People looking for coverage for a specific period of time (mortgage, until child is out of college, until retirement, etc…)
    • People who want the most affordable rates per unit ($1,000 of insurance)
    • Those who are in good or excellent health
    • Those who plan on needing more coverage in the future

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Whole Life Insurance for High Risk Individuals

Whole life insurance is a permanent form of coverage that never expires so long as you pay your premiums, or the maximum age is reached (usually 101, 111, or 121). This type of life insurance policy is much more expensive in terms of cost per thousand, but, it offers cash value accumulation, where each premium paid in goes towards accumulation of additional funds in a separate account. This cash value can be borrowed against interest free, as long as it is paid back.

This type of life insurance policy is not typically offered to very high risk individuals. However, it is an option for those who ride the line. There are dozens of types of whole life policies, each differing based on how the cash value is accumulated.

Some make gains based on index funds, others based on specific assets the policyholder chooses, and others make steady rates of return. I would not recommend this type of policy for anyone other than professional athletes, or those in a very comfortable financial position, as they can be extremely costly.

Who is this best for?

    • People who want to establish a trust or estate
    • Those who want to accumulate cash value with their premiums
    • People who want life long coverage
    • Those who can easily afford a premium that is close to $1,000 per month or more

Burial Insurance for High Risk Individuals

Burial insurance is a form of life insurance that is designed to only cover the cost of your burial, and other end of life expenses. This is a much more affordable option for people who don’t need to leave behind an inheritance or have many debts to pay off, those who don’t need estate planning, or maybe simply can’t afford or qualify for other options. Burial policies last until the owner has passed away.

This type of insurance typically only insures up to around $50,000, but some companies offer more. For burial insurance, you do not have to take a health exam, or go through an underwriting process, and you can get coverage almost immediately. This makes burial insurance a great option for people who need coverage quick, but also comes at a higher cost per thousand as a result. With these types of policies, there is usually not a lot of customization options for riders.

Who is this best for?

    • People who need quick coverage
    • Those who are too high risk for any other type of insurance
    • People who want to supplement their existing coverage

No Exam Life Insurance for High Risk Individuals

No exam life insurance policies don’t require a medical exam for coverage. These are ideal for people with pre-existing health conditions that otherwise disqualify them from coverage or result in higher premiums. Much like burial insurance, the premiums are much higher, meaning this should be a last resort for people who do not have other options like term life coverage.

This type of policy will insure almost anyone, however, a few health related questions can be asked based on the type of policy you choose. This means that some people with serious health conditions still may not qualify for simplified issue life insurance coverage. However, for people in this situation, there is still coverage in the form of guaranteed issue (burial).

Who is this best for?

    • People who do not like medical exams
    • Those who want to bypass some of the underwriting process (saving months of time)
    • People with manageable, but high risk health conditions such as thyroid problems, COPD, etc…

No Exam Quoter

How Much Does High Risk Life Insurance Cost?

For people in the high risk category, there are certain factors that life insurance companies use to determine risks. Based on these factors, each applicant is assigned what is called a table rating. Each life insurance company has its own table rating system, but each works in similar ways.

People with standard risks, or good health do not receive table ratings. However, those who are high risk due to occupation, or health, will receive one of these ratings. The further down the table you are, the more your rating will affect your premiums.

For Example: If a company charges a standard premium for coverage of $100 per month, the additional amount a high risk individual will pay is based on their table rating:
    • Table A or 1: 25% table rating, $125 per month
    • Table B or 2: 50% table rating, $150 per month
    • Table D or 4: 100% table rating, $200 per month
    • Table H or 8: 200% table rating, $300 per month

High Risk Life Insurance Sample Rates (Male & Female)

The table below shows average life insurance rates for high risk individuals who are in excellent health (non-smokers):  

$100,000 Coverage, 10-Year Term


*Displayed monthly rates are accurate as of 03/15/2019 and are provided for illustrative purposes only. 

$250,000 Coverage, 10-Year Term


*Displayed monthly rates are accurate as of 03/15/2019 and are provided for illustrative purposes only. 

$500,000 Coverage, 10-Year Term


*Displayed monthly rates are accurate as of 03/15/2019 and are provided for illustrative purposes only. 

To obtain an accurate quote based on your age and unique health profile, give us a call today at 855-247-9555, or request a free online quote below and one of our agents will contact you.

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7 Tips for Finding Affordable High Risk Life Insurance

life insurance for high risk individualsIf you need high risk life insurance, it doesn’t have to cost you an arm and a leg. By following these 7 tips, you can find affordable options while still getting the coverage you need.

1. Explore all of your options

Don’t settle for the first or second company you find. Each life insurance company, while similar, has a specialty or one area where they offer more attractive rates. So, take your time and find the options that are most favorable to those who are considered high risk.

2. Maintain good physical health

Try to maintain good physical health. High-risk individuals don’t just mean people who have dangerous jobs or engage in dangerous hobbies. Your health can put you in a high-risk category as well. The healthier you are physically, the cheaper your rates will be.

3. Purchase life insurance while you are young

The younger you are, the less risk you pose to an insurance company. Life insurance rates will never be cheaper for you than they are today (with the exception of very limited circumstances). So, even if you may not need coverage now, but plan on starting a family or purchasing a home in the next few years, spending the money for a policy now, could save you thousands later on.

4. Understand how your group insurance plan works

If you have a group insurance plan through your employer, make sure you understand how it works. Depending on the type of coverage they offer, you may need to consider a supplemental term plan to cover things like outstanding debt or college tuition. The best part is, speaking with an insurance agent is always free, so there is no downside to meeting with an agent, or speaking with them on the phone to discuss your existing coverage and learn more about your options.

5. Speak with an independent agent

When it comes to looking for life insurance for high risk individuals, always speak with an independent agent. The agents are not bound to any particular insurance company and can therefore give you an unbiased opinion, and offer you quotes and options from dozens of the best providers at once. 

6. Work with the best high risk life insurance companies

One of the best ways to save money on special risk life insurance is to work with some of the best high risk life insurance providers. The table below shows some of the best providers and their financial ratings. To learn more about each, click the link to their company reviews.

Company Financial Rating Customer Rating
TransAmericaA+ 4.3 / 5
AIG A4.2 / 5
Prudential A+4.4 / 5
Lincoln Financial GroupA+ 4.1 / 5
Protective Life A+ 4.4 / 5


Each one of these companies are some of the best in the world at what they do, offering various types of life insurance policies to people at very affordable rates.

7. Compare high risk life quotes instantly

Looking for high risk life insurance quotes? No problem, use this free tool to instantly compare rates from the best high risk life insurance companies instantly!

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Learn More: For a complete guide on the best ways to save on high risk life insurance, check out this comprehensive guide.

Have Even More Questions? Speak With An Independent Agent Today!

Looking for even more information on your life insurance options as a high risk individual? No problem.

At JRC Group, we work with more than 50 of the best life insurance companies for high risk individuals, and have highly experienced, independent agents waiting to help you.

Give us a call today to speak with an agent 1-on-1 to learn more about your coverage options, costs, and suggestions on what steps to take next.

You may be a high risk, but we are guaranteed to help you find the lowest rates! Give us a call toll-free at: 855-247-9555, or ask us your questions online here for quick feedback from industry experts.

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Cliff Pendell

VP of Marketing at JRC Insurance Group
Cliff is a licensed life insurance agent and one of the owners of JRC Insurance Group. He has helped thousands of families of businesses with their life insurance needs since 2012 and specializes with applicants who are less than perfect health. In his spare time he enjoys spending time with family, traveling, and the great outdoors.
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