January 27th, 2015
If you participate in extreme sports, getting life and disability insurance is absolutely necessary. There have been countless cases, such as this one involving skydiver Kenzie Markey, where an uninsured person participating in an extreme sport suffered serious injuries and racked up expensive medical bills during treatment.
Unfortunately, it’s not easy getting life or disability insurance if you’re involved in dangerous sports that can result in serious injury or death. During the insurance underwriting process, many companies will ask you if you participate in extreme sports or hazardous activities. If you answer in the affirmative, you will be asked to complete supplementary questionnaires and provide additional information.
If an insurance company determines that your participation in a hazardous sport is too risky, it could decline your policy outright, charge you a higher premium or add an exclusion clause to your policy. An exclusion clause is an agreement between you and the underwriter stating that the policy won’t pay out if your injury was the result of participating in an extreme sport.
Despite the extra hurdles, it’s still possible for people who participate in extreme sports to get life or disability insurance at an affordable premium rate as long as they take the right steps.
Let’s take a look at 5 extreme sports that can put your life or disability insurance applications at risk. We’ll also talk about what you can do to ensure that you pass the underwriting process if you participate in any of those sports.
1. Scuba Diving
Scuba diving is a form of underwater diving where the divers use their own independent source of breathing gas. The word “scuba” stands for self-contained underwater breathing apparatus. Using the scuba gear allows divers to have a greater amount of movement and freedom underwater.
While scuba diving is no doubt an exciting activity, there are several risks associated with it. Some of these include equipment malfunction while underwater, decompression sickness, negative effects due to breathing high-pressure gasses and possible injuries related to changes in water pressure.
While applying for life or disability insurance, scuba divers can make the underwriting process easier if they obtain proper diving certification and use the recommended equipment required to have a safe dive.
Other factors such as total years of experience, diving for a recreational or competitive purpose and the duration/depth of the dive can also influence the underwriter’s decision.
Mountaineering is a broad category that includes various activities such as mountain climbing, bouldering, rock climbing, snow/ice climbing and scrambling.
The risks associated with mountaineering are obvious. Broken bones, hypothermia and natural catastrophes such as avalanches or rock-falls are some of the more common dangers climbers face. Death is also a worst-case scenario when performing this activity.
When applying for a life or disability insurance policy, mountaineers are more likely to be successfully underwritten if they’ve received formal training and obtained safety certification. Belonging to a club or a climbing association rather than performing this activity alone can also be a positive factor.
Finally, the time of year and how high a climber is intending to ascend during a climb are also considered during the underwriting process. Typically, the lower a climber is intending to ascend, the easier it is for them to be insured.
Skydiving is a sport involving jumping out of a flying aircraft and freefalling down to the ground before using a parachute to gradually slow down the descent in order to land safely.
Despite the thrilling nature of skydiving, it is often considered by insurance companies to be one of the most dangerous extreme sports in existence. This is because skydiving accidents often have the potential to result in serious injury or death.
The most common dangers that skydivers usually face is dealing with parachute failure during freefall and unstable weather that can interrupt a controlled descent.
When applying for disability or life insurance, skydivers can make the underwriting process easier if they have a license and a solo certification (this certification allows skydivers to attempt solo dives without direct supervision).
Insurance companies are also less likely to grant independent skydivers a policy. A skydiver who is affiliated with a professional club and an established drop zone is far more likely to be successfully underwritten.
4. Automotive Racing
As the name implies, automobile racing involves the racing of automobiles in a competitive setting. Typically, multiple drivers participate in a single race and the driver who sets the fastest time while completing a set number of laps wins the race.
Despite automobile racing being a mainstream sport in most countries, insurance companies usually still list it as an extreme sport and require racers to complete supplementary information forms during the underwriting process.
The biggest risk usually associated with automobile racing is vehicle crashes resulting in major injuries or even death depending on the severity of the accident.
Automobile racers applying for life or disability insurance first need to obtain proper certification required to race competitively. They also need to disclose other information such as their automobile type, expected minimum and top speed during a race and even the type of fuel used by their automobile.
Regarding the races themselves, automobile racers have to disclose which tracks they’re racing on and list the track’s length and surface. Finally, competitive racers typically have to belong to a recognized governing racing association in order to be granted an insurance policy.
5. Bungee Jumping
Bungee jumping is an activity that involves jumping from a tall structure while hanging from an elastic cord. The jumper freefalls until the cord is fully stretched out and then rebounds upwards as the cord recoils. The jumper remains hanging in the air until their momentum completely dies down.
There are several risks associated with bungee jumping. Some of these include equipment malfunction during a jump and unstable winds altering the trajectory of a jump. Neck injuries, whiplash and eyesight damage have also been recorded.
When going through the underwriting process, bungee jumpers should specify how frequently they jump on a yearly basis, where they perform their jumps and what height they typically jump from.
Performing all jumps while in a controlled environment and working with a professional organization that is industry-certified also plays a huge role in passing the underwriting process.