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The majority of Americans don’t have life insurance, although it may make wise financial sense for them to buy coverage. That is especially true for those who work in professions or industries that are extremely hazardous. Those who work in law enforcement, are firefighters, work in slaughterhouses, or do heavy construction, for example, would be considered a hazardous career. Let’s not forget about our hundreds of thousands of military personnel who routinely put themselves into harm’s way – even deploying to war zones. Surely the families of those folks – and millions like them who work in other unusually dangerous jobs – deserve to know that they have some extra financial support in the event of a sudden death.
There is a problem, however, because insurance companies make their profits by minimizing risk so they don’t have to spend all their money paying claims. One of the main ways risk is controlled is by not insuring high-risk individuals. The good news, however, is that even if you are one of those people who work in a particularly hazardous environment, you can qualify for life insurance.
Military Service Life Insurance
Let’s begin with what is arguably the most dangerous profession of all, that of a military service member. If you’re in one of the branches of the United States military you’ll be provided with group insurance. Servicemembers' Group Life Insurance coverage (SGLI) is available to Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, and Coast Guard personnel – plus many other members of organizations such as the National Guard, Ready Reserve, ROTC, and even the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
In fact, if you are eligible, you are automatically enrolled and the premiums to pay for your SGLI coverage are deducted from your military pay. The coverage is sold in increments of $50,000 and the maximum coverage plan pays out $400,000 in death benefits. There are also provisions for having coverage extended for a short period of time after you are discharged in order to give you time to secure your own civilian insurance. To learn all about it, including who qualifies and how much the insurance costs, just visit the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs website where SGLI is fully explained.
Since the smallest increment provided under SGLI ($50,000) is very little life insurance coverage – and even the maximum of $400,000 is still inadequate in most cases – most service members will want an additional policy. Ordinary insurance policies, however, don’t cover jobs as hazardous as soldiering, and most policies even include what is known as a “war clause.”
The war clause basically explains in legal language that if the insured individual dies as a result of an act of war they are not covered and no benefits will be paid. Obviously insurance containing a war clause is worthless to most military personnel who can be called to war and deployed on a moment’s notice. That’s when you need to shop with insurance companies like USAA that specialize in financial services to members of the United States military. USAA boasts that none of its life insurance policies contain war clauses.
USAA may already be familiar to you, because they also issue some of the best credit cards for active or retired military personnel and their families. Their life insurance includes accelerated, streamlined processing of applications for people who have been deployed and a guarantee that you can be insured in the future, even if you leave the military or are injured in combat.
To learn more about USAA life insurance, check out their website.
Hazardous Occupation Life Insurance for Civilians
If you work on an oil rig, as a logger, on a fishing boat, or in another dangerous profession, you put yourself at great risk every time you show up at the job site. Insurance companies calculate the degree of risk by analyzing accident reports and studying data related to hazardous work that is compiled by agencies like the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Most life insurers used to flat-out deny coverage to people employed in especially dangerous lines of work, but that has changed. In the interest of remaining competitive and gaining more customers, many insurance companies now offer this kind of coverage – as long as you are willing to pay a premium price to get it. Oftentimes they will charge an additional 2-3 dollars per $1,000 of coverage, for example, and simply tack that hazardous profession fee onto a conventional policy. Hopefully if you work in a dangerous career field, the salary will also be higher to compensate you for the added risk, and you can earmark some of that extra cash to pay for special, more expensive life insurance coverage.
Group Life Insurance
One of the best and most cost effective options for anyone in a high-risk occupation is to buy group insurance. You can usually do that through professional trade associations or company employers. Companies and other large organizations buy in bulk, allowing insurers to offer them wholesale discounts. If you are a member of a fire department or police department, for example, you can shop for group coverage through your department or your professional association or trade union.
Keep in mind, however, that even though these high-risk life insurance policies cover everything from workplace accidents to death on the battlefield, they won’t likely cover suicide. No matter what kind of life insurance you have or whether you are a civilian or a member of the military, life insurance policies generally don’t provide benefits in the event of self-inflicted death.