High-risk workers: what life insurance cover can you get?

24 June 2021

6 min read

Melanie Wright
Melanie Wright

Personal Finance Journalist


Certain occupations pose more risk to employees than others, but working in a hazardous role doesn’t have to mean you won’t be able to buy life insurance.

Frontline NHS workers who have a risk of contracting illnesses such as coronavirus or MRSA, members of the armed forces, construction workers, and sporting professionals are among those workers usually considered high risk by life insurance companies.

This is because there’s a greater chance of workers in these types of occupations facing a life-threatening situation compared to someone who, for example, works in an office every day.

If you are a high-risk worker, it can be more difficult to find affordable life cover, and insurers are likely to want to know more details about exactly what your job entails.

Once you’ve provided them with the required information, they may decide either to charge you standard payments for life insurance, or higher payments that reflect the additional risks involved in the job you do.


Factors which influence how much you’ll pay for life insurance

Aside from your occupation, several other factors can affect the cost of your life insurance.

Your hobbies

If you enjoy adventurous hobbies, such as climbing or skydiving, your life insurance payments may be higher as there’s a greater risk of a claim being made. The cost of cover can also be affected by your age and lifestyle choices - for example, being a smoker, heavy drinker or having a high body mass index (BMI) can also result in higher premiums.

Health conditions

Having certain health conditions such as diabetes or high blood pressure may increase your life insurance payments too, as can having certain hereditary conditions prevalent in your family.

Where you live may also have a bearing on premiums, as people living in certain areas are at a higher risk of claiming than others.

Your occupation

If you do work in a high-risk occupation, or have medical issues, it’s worth checking whether your employer offers you any protection. Many companies provide death in service benefits, usually equivalent to between two or four times your salary, if you die whilst in their employment.

If your company provides generous death in service benefits you may be comfortable opting for a lower level of life cover to keep payments affordable. Remember however, that if you leave your job or are made redundant, you’ll lose this benefit, so many people like the security of having life insurance too.

It’s vital to be completely honest about your occupation when you apply for life insurance, even if it does mean you end up having to pay higher premiums.

If you claim you work in a role that’s different to the one you actually have and something happens to you, your policy is likely to be invalidated and your loved ones won’t receive a pay-out.

Working in a high-risk occupation may mean you have to pay a bit more for your life insurance, but having cover can provide valuable peace of mind that your family will be financially protected should the worst happen.

Over 50s life insurance – the exception

The one type of life cover where you’re guaranteed to be accepted, regardless of your occupation, lifestyle choices or medical history, is over 50 life insurance. This type of cover is not underwritten, so usually the only requirement is that you are aged between 50 and 80.

It can therefore be a popular option if you fall into this age bracket and you have a medical condition or do a high-risk job or hobby. Bear in mind, however, that you’re limited on the amount of cover you can get. Most over-50s policies offer up to around £10,000 or £15,000 of cover, whereas with term or whole-of-life insurance you can choose a much bigger sum if you need to.

However, it can be a good option if you can’t afford traditional life insurance or have been turned down for cover. Some over 50s insurers also provide immediate insurance for accidental death.


Melanie Wright is an award-winning freelance financial journalist, who has written about personal finance and consumer issues for the past 22 years. She is a former Deputy Editor of The Daily Telegraph's Your Money section, and wrote the Sunday Mirror’s Money section for more than a decade. She contributes to a wide range of publications and websites, including The Sunday Times, The Daily Telegraph, The Observer and the Radio Times.