Risky Business Boosts Life Insurance Costs

When the Crocodile Hunter Steve Irwin died recently after he pulled a deadly stingray barb from his own chest, people not just in Australia, but the entire world grieved for the animal-loving icon. The tributes to Irwin came from far and wide with children leaving soft toys and others making him a floral shrine. And perhaps some of the most sad, yet moving moments to come from his death was seeing his wife, Terri, amongst the crowds at his funeral and his brave eight-year-old daughter Bindi-Sue reading a speech about her love for her Dad.

Yet Irwin’s business was one in which he risked his life on a regular basis. In a recent interview with the US documentary programme 20/20, Irwin’s wife, Terri, says her husband had always thought he would die young. So what would this have meant for him when it came to life insurance? Is it likely that he would have taken out a policy because he constantly threw himself into danger? And, because of the risks he took regularly, would he have been able to get life insurance?

A spokesman for the Association of British Insurers says that in the case of Irwin, it would be likely that he would have had a highly specialised insurance policy, given that his entire business was based on risk. And chances are, if he did have life insurance, he would have taken out a policy not through an ordinary insurance company, but perhaps with firms which are Australia’s equivalent to those such as Lloyds or Standard Life. Yet, his case does highlight how for those in risky jobs, many are likely to have in the back of their minds the worry of leaving behind a family with young children who still have to battle the costs of mortgages and other expenses should their life be snatched from them.

People in risky occupations like Irwin’s, who also have a family, are probably more likely to think about taking out life insurance. Yet if they are in a risky occupation, their premiums are probably going to be higher than the ordinary person on the street. Exactly what is considered a risky occupation varies from insurer to insurer, says the ABI spokesman. But as an example he names ‘helicopter pilot’ as one.

A spokeswoman for the UK life insurance provider Standard Life says that when people want to take out a policy, they are asked a standard set of questions about the risks involved in their jobs. So it is not actually a situation where they list the occupations considered risky. Examples of the questions are ‘Do you work with explosives?’, or ‘Do you work under water or on high buildings?’ The spokesperson says this list gets constantly reviewed and updated. This is usually as new technology is introduced or evolves.

The Standard Life Spokeswoman says that if someone has a risky occupation, it is usually the case that they pay higher premiums rather than them being refused a policy completely. But she says there are very specific exceptions to this.

When it comes to those in the armed services, if a person is to being posted into a war zone, then the company will not offer insurance.

“If you have a situation where someone is a tightrope walker, for example, and they are looking to break a record or do something more dangerous than usual just days after they want to take life insurance out, then their policy would be refused.”