High risk life insurance

Do you need high risk life insurance? Find out what makes someone ‘high risk’ and what you can do to reduce your premiums.

Updated 20 May 2020  | 3 min read

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Key points

  • It's a bit morbid, but the cost of your life insurance is based on your risk of death
  • Factors such as age, health and lifestyle could mean you’re classed as ‘high risk’
  • High risk individuals might find it harder to find life insurance and usually pay more
  • Always shop around as insurers classify risk in different ways

What is high risk life insurance?

Insurers look at your risk profile when calculating your life insurance premiums. The more risk factors you have, the more likely it is that the insurer will have to pay out, so the cost of insurance rises.

High risk life insurance is for people at greater risk of death during the insurance term. This can make it difficult or expensive to get standard life insurance, so a specialist provider is needed. 

What factors make someone high risk?

Insurers typically look at these factors to determine if someone is high risk:

  • Age - the older you are, the higher the risk
  • Pre-existing medical conditions - such as a history of stroke or high blood pressure
  • Obesity - having a high body mass index (BMI) score puts you at higher risk
  • Address - if you live in an area where life expectancy is lower, you’ll pay more
  • Smoking - regular smoking increases your risk of serious medical conditions
  • Alcohol consumption - heavy drinking also increases your risk
  • Job - for example, being a police officer is higher risk than an office job
  • Hobbies - risky hobbies such as rock climbing can increase premiums
  • Travel - frequent travel to high-risk places might cost you more

Excluding a specific pre-existing condition

If you have a medical history that puts you at higher risk, such as a previous diagnosis of cancer, you could exclude this condition from your cover in order to reduce premiums. 

This would mean your insurance would pay out if you die from a cause other than the specific pre-existing condition

Critical illness cover

Along with high risk life insurance, you might choose to take out additional critical illness cover that insures you against the risk of getting certain life-limiting illnesses, such as multiple sclerosis or cancer. This means you'd get a payout if you were diagnosed with a critical illness.

Being classified as high risk for life insurance means you’ll pay more for other forms of insurance too, such as income protection insurance, critical illness cover and health insurance

Do I need high risk life insurance?

If one or more risk factors listed above apply to you, it’s likely that you’ll need high risk life insurance. 

Insurers differ in how they approach high risk life insurance. For example, the same job might be classed as high risk by one insurer but standard risk by another. This means it’s even more important to shop around and compare providers.

How can I make myself less of a high risk for life insurance?

Some risk factors can’t be altered, like age or medical history. But other risk factors can be reduced or removed through lifestyle changes. 

For example, stopping smoking, losing weight or giving up a risky hobby will probably bring down the cost of your high risk life insurance. Changing career or moving to a new area could also have an impact. Check with your insurer if you think your risk profile should be reviewed. 

You should always be honest with your insurer. If you’re misleading or don’t tell the insurer something important, your cover could be invalid in the event of a claim. Or, your payout might be reduced by the amount they think you should've paid if they had the right information over the term of your insurance.

Moving to a new insurance provider

For most categories of insurance, changing to a new provider is a smart way to obtain the same benefits for less. But the cost of life insurance rises as you get older and potentially experience health problems. This means that dropping an existing policy to take out a new one could increase the cost. 

There’s nothing to stop you from holding multiple life insurance policies, so it might make sense to take out additional cover rather than cancel an existing policy. Your current insurer may also be willing to reduce premiums if your circumstances have changed.