Surprising High Risk Red Flags

Do you know what makes you a high risk life insurance candidate? No, it’s not just your health. 

The factors may not be as straightforward as you think. This is made all the more complex because all carriers view risk differently. Let’s take a look at some of the surprising factors that could earn you a high risk classification. 

High Risk Factors: The Obvious

Let’s start with the most obvious high risk factor: your health.

The number one factor that will place you into a higher risk category is the presence of a high risk disease. Remember: you are compared to healthy individuals in your age group. The lower your life expectancy compared to the average individual in your age group, the higher your risk will be. 

Cancer, obesity, melanoma, cardiac diseases and diabetes all significantly decrease your lifespan. 

Life insurance underwriters will take a look at a few factors when diseases are present:

  • A list of medications you are currently taking to manage your disease
  • A list of previously-prescribed medications you have taken for the disease
  • The date of your diagnosis
  • Your treatment regimen
  • The presence of additional diseases or medical conditions

Be sure to provide your life insurance agent with your medical records and copies of your treatment plans. If you are in remission, you should be sure to mention how long you have been in remission and the date of your last checkup.

Another obvious factor that can be considered high risk is your age. We firmly believe that your age is not a big risk factor. We have seen individuals as old as 70 who are in near-perfect health.

This is why it’s important to be as accurate as possible on your life insurance application.

High Risk Habits and Lifestyle Choices

Another obvious risk red flag can be found in the habits you keep. 

Any habit determined to have poor effects on your health will be considered high risk. This includes smoking and alcohol consumption.

These habits are actually less straightforward to underwrite than you’d think. This is because all companies assess risk differently. Regardless of the company you choose, the length and frequency of your habit are crucial to placing your risk. 

No matter what your situation, it is important to answer each application question honestly. HIgh risk or standard policies will come with something called a two-year contestability. This means that if you lie on your application your beneficiaries won’t receive a death benefit.

For example: if you applied as nonsmoker but you pass away within the first two years of the policy with nicotine in your system, the insurer can refuse to pay your death benefit. 

Reminder: Even if you are a smoker, you can find affordable life insurance. Be sure to talk to an independent agent before beginning your search!
High Risk Hobbies and Occupations

Two surprising risk factors come in the form of your hobbies and your occupation. This may not be a concern if you work a desk job; however, if you work in any of the following professions you will be considered high risk:

  • Firefighting
  • Logging
  • Rigging
  • Piloting

…and a myriad of others. To determine if your job falls into a high risk category, insurers look at injury and death stats from the US Department of Statistics. Underwriters will also look at the company’s history of insuring individuals with the same or similar occupations. 

A risk factor you have more control over is your hobbies. Skydiving, piloting (in a non-professional capacity), scuba diving and rock climbing are all considered risky activities.

Your insurer will want to know the following:

  • How often you participate in this hobby
  • The type of equipment you use in your hobby
  • The trainings you have completed
  • Any certifications or licenses you have received

Fortunately, many carriers will take on your risk even if you participate in a “dangerous” hobby. A good rule of thumb for affordable life insurance with a high risk hobby is to make sure you are mitigating your risk. This means keeping your certifications and licenses up-to-date, and using highly-rated safety equipment. 

Additionally, your lifestyle is a factor in how your risk is assessed. DUIs, arrest records and even bankruptcy charges can all impact your life insurance rating.

What To Expect on a High Risk Application

We always recommend our high risk clients familiarize themselves with the underwriting process. This allows them to know what underwriters are looking for, and what carriers will see as a red flag. 

It takes years to be a life insurance expert, but that doesn’t mean you have to be unprepared! Here are a few questions you may encounter on a high risk application:

  • Your history of drug use or abuse
  • Do you participate in hazardous or dangerous activities?
  • Do you currently work in a hazardous or dangerous occupation?
  • Driving record infractions
  • Criminal record details
  • Have you been through a financial hardship, such as bankruptcy?
  • Have you been incarcerated in the past 10 years?
  • Do you use tobacco products?
  • Do you smoke?
  • Detail any surgeries or hospitalizations you have had in the past 10 years
  • Are you on disability?
  • List your current and past prescriptions
  • Family history of heart diseases, diabetes or cancer

A “yes” to any of the above questions will flag you as high risk, and you can expect follow up questions. The more detailed and honest answers you can give, the better your chances of affordable life insurance. 

Don’t forget to have an independent life insurance agent review your application!

High Risk Doesn’t Have to Mean High Premiums

Your best bet to securing affordable life insurance as a high risk candidate is to use an agent. Our agents work with hundreds of reputable carriers, and know which companies will look favorably upon your risk. Reach out today and let us help you find a policy for your needs.