When you are hanging off the side of a mountain or whipping a dirt bike high over the track, you know you’re defying death. While proper preparation and the right equipment can make either mountain climbing or Motocross relatively safe, both activities carry inherent dangers, and those dangers are something insurers take into account when pricing a life insurance policy.
Extreme Sport as a Risk Factor
A number of hobbies are considered “high-risk” from an insurance perspective. Some of those, like skydiving and car racing, are uncommon pastimes. Others, like riding motorcycles, are relatively mainstream but do still carry a higher risk for insurers. While motorcycles make up a small percentage of vehicles on the road, for instance, and are, overall, involved in fewer accidents, these accidents are more likely to result in injury or death, due to the unprotected nature of the rider.
Other activities considered high-risk hobbies by insurers:
Hang gliding / parachuting / parasailing
Mountain climbing (high-altitude)
Racing (boat, bike, motorcycle, auto)
Skiing (high-altitude, heli- or backcountry skiing)
Snowboarding (half pipe, jumps, heli- or backcountry snowboarding)
Mountain biking (high-altitude)
Hot air ballooning
Competitive martial arts
Activities that are not generally considered high-risk by insurers include:
Indoor rock climbing / bouldering
General skiing or snowboarding (on resort slopes)
Trail mountain biking (low-altitude)
Martial arts (general)
The good news is, despite the dangerous nature of high-risk sports and activities, very few insurers will refuse to provide you with life insurance. Instead, you can expect to pay a higher premium than a person who is the same age, sex, and at the same general level of health as you.
When you apply for life insurance, the insurance company’s questionnaire will ask a multitude of questions about your past health issues, habits, and regular activities. If you answer yes for any of their high-risk hobbies, you will likely be asked follow-up questions, which may include whether you do activities alone or in a group, whether you climb or hike high- or low-altitude, where you scuba dive, what type of scuba certification you have, how long you’ve been doing it, and your maximum dive depth.
Whatever questions the insurer asks, be sure to answer them thoroughly and honestly. Getting the correct policy is the best way to insure your life insurance covers you and your family should the worst come to pass while you are participating in your favorite extreme sport.
How Much is the Difference?
So, you know your life insurance premium is going to be higher because you participate in a high-risk activity like heli-skiing or scuba diving. You’ve come to terms, and you’re cool with it. The question is, how much higher is it going to be?
That’s a very good question and one that’s difficult to answer.
First, it depends on the insurer. Different insurance companies have different rate increases for high-risk activities. What insurance companies consider “high-risk” also differs.
It sounds counterintuitive, but when it comes to life insurance, the more you disclose to the insurer, the more favorable a rate you are likely to get. If you say you “regularly” climb at high-altitudes, for instance, when you climb at high altitudes three or four times a year, you may find your insurer doesn’t view climbing once a season as a “regular” hobby for policy purposes. It often comes down to the details and not just the activity alone.
As a general rule, though, regular high-risk hobbies are going to add between $1000 and $2500 to your life insurance price quotes (that’s yearly), whether you are buying life insurance through your local insurance company or if you buy life insurance online, so $100-200 extra per month is a good number to budget in.
Don’t Take Chances with Your Family’s Livelihood
Knowing your insurance premium is going to be higher because you love to go climbing in the Rockies can be a financial blow. While the devil on your shoulder might be tempting you not to disclose your adventurous leisure time activities to your insurance company in the hopes of scoring a better deal on policy, though, non-disclosure is always a bad idea.
Keeping a risky hobby from your insurer may result in an insurance policy that won’t pay out if something happens while you are on a mountain or deep in the depths of the ocean. Sure, you could take the chance that the insurance company won’t find out it’s something you do frequently, but, if they do find out, they also won’t be obligated to pay out the policy. If you’re going to err when filling out your insurance application, it’s best to err on the side of too much disclosure.
And, if for some reason, your high-risk hobby doesn’t appear on the questionnaire provided by the insurance company, tell them about it anyway. That way, there won’t be any surprises for anyone if you have to put the thing to use.