Life Insurance for Sex Workers


The exact number of people currently doing sex work in Canada is unknown because agencies can’t collect data reliably. Estimates say 10% to 33% of sex workers work on the street and are therefore more visible. Estimates also say most sex workers are young women between the ages of 22 and 25 who started when they were between 16 and 20. Most are single, and approximately 30% to 70% have children.

In some studies, 62% of prostitutes in Vancouver, 50% in Toronto, and 69% in Montréal claimed they worked as independent contractors, while the presence and influence of pimps was more extensive in the Maritimes and on the Prairies. Drug use varies significantly by region and gender. It’s highest in the Atlantic provinces, lowest in Québec, and more of a problem for men than women.

According to a comprehensive mortality study published in 2004 in the Journal of Epidemiology and funded by the U.S. National Institutes of Health, the homicide rate among sex workers is 51 times more than the next most dangerous profession for women, which at the time was working in a liquor store. The average age of death among the women studied was 34.

So, for a sex worker to get life insurance seems very unlikely at first glance. However, it is possible — just not through a traditional life insurance plan. Traditional life insurance would prohibit prostitutes from getting a policy because there’s an occupation question.

There’s the obvious underwriting risk to the insurer, since the applicant is vulnerable to contracting a sexually transmitted infection, but there are also additional risks to their mortality. In the insurance company’s opinion, these would include a higher frequency of recreational drug use and other related criminal activities.

But you should note that prostitutes may be able to obtain life insurance through non-medical life insurance channels. These policies have more limited face amounts. but there are no medical tests, and depending on the type of plan, there can either be no health questions or a short series of health questions.

Simplified-issue policies are a type of no-medical plan that does ask health questions, but generally they don’t ask any occupation-related questions. But whether the applicant has been diagnosed with HIV or AIDS is a question almost all simplified-issue policies ask, so if the insured were diagnosed with HIV or AIDS, their insurance options would be much more limited.

Many of these plans can provide coverage from day one. Depending on the type of simplified-issue policy, the premiums are anywhere from 100% to 150% in relation to a standard life insurance policy. Luckily, non-smokers get additional discounts.

Although insurance companies are certainly not targeting this market, people working in the world’s oldest profession can take solace in the fact that they can get life insurance at all. Plus, when you consider that most prostitutes are younger, the premiums could be as low as $30 a month.

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