How Extreme Sports Affect Your Ability to Get Life Insurance

How Extreme Sports Affect Your Ability to Get Life Insurance
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Participating in any extreme sports will likely present a problem when purchasing life insurance. Insurers have never been fans of dangerous activities, including risky sports. However, they are beginning to become more accepting of extreme athletes; slowly but surely, extreme sports are becoming less of an issue.

In this article, we will look at the relationship between extreme sports and life insurance. You’ll learn all you need to know to take out a life insurance policy if you’re an athlete and like to participate in any extreme sports. Read on to find out how you can combine your passion with a good life insurance policy.

Extreme Sports and Insurance: Article Contents

Extreme Sports and Life Insurance

Going through the qualification or underwriting process is almost unavoidable when purchasing life insurance. With the exception of guaranteed issue insurance and some group insurance, you will need to answer multiple questions and even undergo medical exams. The insurer uses this procedure to evaluate the risk it would take on in accepting the insurance applicant and decide whether or not to grant the policy.

It usually includes some questions on the insurance applicant’s habits--including their athletic hobbies and activities. The insurer will try to evaluate whether these hobbies could significantly increase the risk of having a serious accident resulting in death.

Insurers have long been hesitant to grant life insurance policies to extreme athletes, who have had a lot of difficulties getting insurance or have had to pay much higher rates than normal. However, this has started to change over the years, and represents less of an obstacle today than it used to.

Still, all companies continue to take your hobbies into account when evaluating your risk and deciding whether or not to grant you life insurance. It’s best to face the process with total honesty. Answer all questions truthfully and don’t hide anything, even when requesting life insurance quotes online or through other methods.

If you hide something and the insurer eventually discovers it, they could even cancel your policy. Lying or hiding any facts during the application process is probably the biggest mistake you can make with your life insurance.

But if you answer their questions with honesty, the company can consider your specific situation and it's very likely that any extreme sport you practice will have a very limited effect on your policy and the premiums you pay.

Lastly, it’s important that the insurer knows what sport you practice and what your level of risk is. Climbing a few times a year, for example, is not the same as participating in trips to the Himalayas.

What Sports Are Considered Extreme

Insurers don’t treat all sports equally. Playing soccer, basketball, baseball, or golf will not be taken into account. However, the company will be concerned about so-called extreme sports.

The extreme sports that tend to set off insurance companies’ alarm bells are:

  • Climbing. Especially sport climbing and mountain climbing.
  • Gliding, parachuting, hang gliding, paragliding and BASE jumping. These aerial activities carry huge risks.
  • Car or motorcycle racing. Motor sports, both on tracks and on roads or open fields, are considered extreme.
  • Scuba diving. Subaquatic sports are considered hazardous, but deep sea diving is not the same as snorkeling.
  • Big wave surfing. Surfing is not considered a dangerous activity unless it is practiced in big waves. It’s important that you explain exactly what type of surfing you do during the application process.
  • Bungee jumping. This sport, which consists of jumping while tied to ropes or elastics, is also very dangerous.
  • Cliff diving. Jumping from cliffs into the ocean is considered an extreme sport.

For other sports, it’s important to ask the insurer what they think. For example, hunting or bull riding might be considered extreme.

It’s also very important that you explain to the company at what level you practice this sport: how often you do it, how much experience you have, and whether you’re a competitive, professional, or simply an amateur athlete.

One good example is scuba diving, an activity that millions of people do, but many don’t consider dangerous. When informing the insurer that your hobby is scuba diving, you should clarify whether you dive in deep or shallow waters. You should also tell them how deep you’ve gone, what scuba diving license you have, whether you do it alone or with a group, where you scuba dive, and how many times a year you do it. With all this information, the insurance company will be able to better understand the risk it will take on by insuring you.

How Extreme Sports Affect Premiums

Again, practicing any of these sports will no longer bar you from accessing life insurance. It can only be an obstacle in certain specific cases. However, you’ll almost certainly have to pay higher premiums.

How much you’ll pay will depend on the level of the sport you practice. The premiums will vary depending on how many times you put yourself at risk each year, how well you master the sport, and the risks of practicing it.

Take the scuba diving example again. We can calculate how much this sport will impact a 20-year term or temporary insurance policy that has one million dollars in coverage. In this case, if you only scuba dive occasionally and don’t dive in  very deep waters your premiums won’t change very much: they’ll stay around $65-70 a month.

However, if you’re a more serious scuba diver and descend more than 150 feet or 50 meters, you’ll see an increase in premiums of approximately $2.50 for every $1,000 of coverage. This means that your premiums will skyrocket to around $375-380 a month.

The same thing happens with climbing. If your mountain hobbies don’t go beyond trekking and an occasional climb, your premiums will barely be affected. But if you love extreme climbing and go on high climbs, you might even find that companies will refuse to grant you a life insurance policy. And most will apply significant surcharges to your monthly premiums.

How to Avoid Having Your Insurance Affected by Extreme Sports

There are some strategies you can use to avoid huge surges in your premiums and keep the price of life insurance affordable. Our tips are:

  • Practice the sport less. You need to make a decision: either keep practicing your extreme sport at the same frequency and pay more for insurance, or practice it less and reduce your premiums. Insurers deal with the probability that something will happen to you, and the chances will be lower if you space out the risks. Explain to your insurer that you’re going to reduce your level of activity and try to be as specific as possible: if you can, cite the exact frequency with which you plan to practice your extreme sport.
  • Get better equipment. If you invest in good sports equipment, you’ll reduce your risk. The insurer will then be more open to the idea of granting you life insurance.
  • Demonstrate your experience. If you have a lot of experience in your sport, are a competitive athlete, belong to a club, are an instructor... In short, if you can demonstrate that you’re a very experienced athlete to the insurance company, your risk will be lower and you’ll have more options.
  • Sign an exclusion rider. If you want to have an affordable life insurance policy and continue participating in extreme sports, you can choose to add riders to your policy that stipulate that your life insurance will cover you in all cases, except if you die while participating in your chosen sport.

In any case, keep in mind that the most important thing is to tell the truth and not hide anything. The insurer needs as much information as possible and the more you give them, the better: their calculations will be more accurate and this will most likely benefit you.

As you can see, practicing extreme sports doesn’t necessarily have to be an obstacle to purchasing life insurance. Once you’ve reviewed all this information, contact your insurance agent and ask for more details. He or she will help you adapt your life insurance so that you won’t have to stop participating in your favorite extreme sport.

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