I started Insurance Blog by Chris™ because I have a passion for insurance. Here at the blog, our job is to educate and inform people about the best insurance for them. Since then, we have grown into national brands with a large team of researchers helping people understand all forms of insurance.

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Rachael Brennan has been working in the insurance industry since 2006 when she began working as a licensed insurance representative for 21st Century Insurance, during which time she earned her Property and Casualty license in all 50 states. After several years she expanded her insurance expertise, earning her license in Health and AD&D insurance as well. She has worked for small health insu...

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Reviewed by Rachael Brennan
Licensed Insurance Agent

UPDATED: Mar 24, 2021

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If you’re a firefighter, you may be wondering if it’s possible to get life insurance for firefighters. After all, firefighting is considered a more dangerous occupation than most.

While that’s certainly true, it will not prevent you from purchasing private life insurance. Life insurance companies underwrite policies for firefighters all the time, and the differences between coverage for those with less hazardous occupations aren’t all that great.

If you are contemplating getting life insurance for firefighters, there’s no need to hesitate. You can get coverage, and there’s no limit to the death benefit you can choose.

Is Life Insurance for Firefighters Possible?

You don’t need to worry about the answer to this question since you absolutely can get coverage. There’s no doubt firefighting is considered to be a high-risk occupation. But there are actually at least a dozen other occupations that are considered even more hazardous, like construction workers, lumberjacks, roofers, and truck drivers.

So, while firefighting is fairly high on the list, it’s not close to being the highest-risk occupation.

The worst that will happen is your premium will be a little higher because of your occupation. But, if you’re otherwise well qualified, that won’t make that much of a difference. And, there are even certain jobs within fire departments that will result in no premium increase at all.

All that is, of course, contingent upon making application with the right life insurance company. Some take a more favorable view of high-risk occupations than others do, and those are the ones you’ll want to focus on.

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Isn’t Coverage through Your Employer Sufficient?

Just like other workers who have life insurance provided by their employers, firefighters often mistakenly believe they already have enough coverage. That may be true if you are single and have no dependents. But, if you have a spouse and/or children, it’s unlikely the coverage offered by your employer will be nearly sufficient.

In most fire departments, firefighters get employer-provided life insurance equal to between two and three times their annual salary. If you’re making $50,000 per year, that major benefit will be somewhere between $100,000 and $150,000.

Once again, that may be more than enough coverage if you have no dependents. But, if you do, it will not be close to enough.

It’s generally recommended that you have at least 10 times your annual salary in life insurance coverage. That will ensure that your family will be taken care of financially, at least until your children reach the age of majority.

But, you may want to add additional coverage if you plan to send your children to college. Exactly how much you want to add will depend on what type of college you expect your children to attend. You may also want extra coverage to pay off the mortgage on the family home, or any other major debt obligations you currently have.

After crunching the numbers, you may determine your family will need more like $600,000 to survive after your death. If your employer-provided policy covers only up to $150,000, you have a $450,000 shortfall.

That’s the main reason why employer-provided health insurance is typically not enough on its own. But there’s an even bigger reason to have a private policy.

The Even Bigger Reason for Firefighters to Get a Private Life Insurance Policy

Should you leave your job for any reason, it’s likely you’ll also lose your employer-provided life insurance. If you already have a private policy, you’ll continue to be covered. If you wait until you’re separated to then get coverage, it’ll cost more because you’ll be older. And, if you develop any significant health conditions between now and then, it can be much more expensive, and there’s even the possibility of being declined if the condition is severe.

The best time to buy life insurance is always now. That’s because you’ll never be younger than you are today, nor will your health ever be better than it is right now. So, if you’ve been thinking about getting a private policy to supplement your employer plan, don’t delay!

How Insurance Companies Consider Life Insurance for Firefighters

You may be surprised to learn that your occupation as a firefighter is not the primary factor determining your life insurance premium. While your occupation may result in a slightly higher premium, other factors will be even more important:

  • Your age.
  • Gender: premium rates for females are lower than they are for males.
  • Your health (the presence of any significant, chronic health conditions).
  • The health history of your immediate family (mainly, parents and siblings).
  • Bad habits like smoking, excessive alcohol consumption, or illicit drug use.
  • High-risk hobbies: skydiving, racing, deep-sea diving, or backcountry skiing are a shortlist of the potential examples.
  • Your driving record: at-fault accidents, multiple moving violations, license suspensions, and especially DUI/DWI episodes.
  • Your credit history: significant credit issues can indicate a high stress/high-risk lifestyle.
  • Any criminal record you may have.
  • Other factors unique to individual insurance companies.

If your profile in each of these areas is excellent, you’re likely to get a preferred plus premium rate even as a firefighter.

Insurance Underwriting Factors Unique to Firefighters

None of the above are meant to imply that your occupation would not be a factor in determining your premium. Insurance companies recognize that there are specific risk levels associated with positions within the fire department.

Death from fire may be the most obvious firefighter risk. But there’s also the possibility of death from smoke inhalation, smoke from toxic substances, or being caught in a collapsing structure.

The insurance company may charge an additional premium to adjust for those additional risks.

Your premium may also be affected by your specific job. For example, if you primarily work in an administrative capacity at the firehouse, it’s likely there will be no additional premium because of your occupation. However, if you are engaged in a particularly hazardous type of firefighting, like dealing with chemical, oil, or gas fires, you should fully expect your premiums to be adjusted higher.

There may be consideration of geography as well. For example, a firefighter who works in an area that contains a large number of high-rise buildings, industrial facilities, or attached housing units (which hold the possibility of fire spreading across multiple households) may be viewed as higher risk.

How Much Will Being a Firefighter Affect Your Premiums?

If you have a strong insurance profile overall, and your occupation within the fire department is classified as either normal risk or standard firefighter risk, it’s likely your premium will not be adjusted for your occupation at all.

However, if you are involved in more hazardous aspects of firefighting, the insurance company may calculate your premium based on your non-occupational profile, then add a flat add-on to adjust for the additional risk your job presents.

But, even if you do pay an add-on adjustment, it may be removed if you transfer into a less hazardous position within the department.

So much depends on your non-occupational factors. For example, if you have certain health conditions, like hypertension or obesity, the insurance underwriter may consider those factors to present additional risks in connection with being a firefighter.

In most cases, a term life insurance policy will be your best option. Not only is it much less expensive than cash value life insurance policies, like whole life, but since it has a limited term — and you’re less likely to die within that term than would be the case with permanent coverage — your premiums may be lower still.

This is a situation you’ll need to discuss carefully with your life insurance advisor.

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How to Apply for Life Insurance for Firefighters

You’ve probably seen those ads on the web and elsewhere advertising what seem to be impossibly low life insurance premiums. If you do, don’t make the mistake of assuming that they’ll also be low for a high-risk occupation like firefighter.

Cheap life insurance is designed specifically for young applicants who are in excellent health and present few, if any, risks. As a firefighter, not only will you find your premiums much higher, but, you may even be declined for coverage. It’s because the only way low-cost providers can offer such low premiums is by excluding anyone who presents a risk.

If you work in a high-risk occupation, like firefighters, or have any other risk factors in your profile at all, your best strategy is always to work with a life insurance broker. That’s because we work with many different insurance companies, and are not beholden to any of them. Since we’re independent, we will be working for you, placing your application with the insurance company that will offer the best coverage at the lowest premium.

It is important to understand that not all insurance companies view risk factors in the same way. Some insurance companies take a very positive view of firefighters, and those are the ones we will match up with you. But, there are others that will charge higher premiums than necessary. Since you don’t work in the insurance industry, you won’t know which companies will be your best choice. That’s what we can do for you.

If you’re a firefighter, or you work in any other high-risk occupation or have any other risk factors, we’re here to help you find the right insurance company that will best accommodate those risk factors, including your occupation. We work with dozens of companies and know in advance which will work best for you.