From Smoking to Skydiving: 12 Activities That Make It Harder to Buy Life Insurance

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  • Life insurers ask about hobbies when determining whether to issue a policy.
  • Some hobbies and activities are considered high risk and can result in higher insurance rates.
  • These "dangerous" activities range from vaping to scuba diving.

Certain risky hobbies can result in increased life insurance premiums -- or even denial of coverage.

When consumers apply for life insurance, they are typically asked many questions before their application is approved. Some of these questions relate to their health history and are designed to determine if they have any pre-existing conditions or medical issues. Other questions, however, relate to hobbies they engage in and activities they enjoy.

It may be surprising to be asked about things like recreational activities by a life insurer -- but there's a good reason why this query is included on insurance applications. And, in fact, the answer could actually result in a denial of coverage or much higher premiums.

So, what kinds of hobbies or activities could affect the ability to buy life insurance? Here's what consumers need to know.

These 12 activities could affect insurance eligibility and premiums

Insurers each set their own rules for what types of things impact premiums or result in a denial of coverage. However, with most life insurance providers, these 12 activities could result in either a refusal to issue a policy or a very high cost to buy coverage:

  1. Smoking cigarettes
  2. Using marijuana
  3. Using illegal drugs
  4. Piloting an aircraft
  5. Vaping
  6. Bungee jumping
  7. Car racing
  8. Rock climbing
  9. Skydiving
  10. Mountaineering
  11. Scuba diving
  12. Parachuting

There may also be other habits that insurers consider risky, but this is a good example of the types of leisure activities that the vast majority of insurance companies are going to have concerns about.

Why do hobbies and habits affect life insurance?

Engaging in these activities is a cause for concern for most life insurance companies for a very simple reason. Insurers believe that doing these things makes it more likely that a person will die while the insurance policy is in effect -- and more likely that a person will die at a young age.

Things like smoking cigarettes or using illegal drugs are well known to cause a variety of serious health issues ranging from lung cancer to an overdose death. And activities such as car racing or skydiving also carry a pretty high risk of a fatal accident occurring -- especially relative to the safer hobbies that people engage in more commonly such as watching TV or reading books.

Insurance companies do not want to pay out a death benefit when they allow someone to buy life insurance. They obviously make more of a profit if they collect premiums and the person who bought the policy does not pass away during the term when the coverage is in effect.

As a result, insurers assess the risk of a death occurring and a claim being made. If the risk is too high, they will not offer coverage at all. And if the risk is elevated compared to a typical individual, the insurer may offer coverage but charge more for it because the company is taking a greater chance of something going wrong.

Now, this does not mean people necessarily should give up their hobbies just to get life insurance for a lower price. But it does mean that those who engage in higher risk behaviors will need to be prepared to shop around more to find an insurer that will accept them, and they must be ready to pay more for protection. In some cases, this could even mean getting a guaranteed issue policy if no standard insurer will issue one. While this isn't ideal, it may be better than having no coverage at all.

Our picks for best life insurance companies

Life insurance is essential if you have people depending on you. We’ve combed through the options and developed a best-in-class list for life insurance coverage. This guide will help you find the best life insurance companies and the right type of policy for your needs. Read our free review today.

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