If you’re a police officer with a spouse and/or a family, you’ve probably given some serious thought to the amount of life insurance you have.
After all, the occupation you work in is more hazardous than most.
And for that reason, you probably also wondered what the complications of purchasing life insurance for police officers might be.
Is Life Insurance for Police Officers Possible?
In a word, absolutely!
While it’s true that life insurance companies consider police work to be a high-risk occupation, that doesn’t mean your application will be automatically declined. It’s certainly higher risk than most occupations, but it’s actually not even on the list of the top 10 highest risk occupations.
You can buy a private life insurance policy, and the most that’s likely to happen is your premium may be increased slightly to accommodate the extra risk of your occupation.
However, exactly how much this will be — or if it will even be assessed — depends on the insurance company you apply for coverage with.
Isn’t Coverage through the Police Department Enough?
This is a common obstacle to many employees who have employer-sponsored life insurance plans, not just police officers. An employer plan can create the illusion of sufficient coverage.
After all, it might be assumed that whatever life insurance is offered by your department is sufficient based on some form of mathematical calculation.
If only it were so. Like most employer-provided life insurance plans, those offered by police departments are typically tied to your annual salary. You may be offered anywhere from 2-4 times your salary as a death benefit.
If your salary is $50,000, your death benefit will be $100,000 on the low-end, or $200,000 on the high end. And the actual amount of the death benefit may vary based on whether you die on or off the job.
It should be obvious, however, that $100,000 — or even $200,000 — is insufficient coverage given today’s cost of living, especially if you have a family with young children.
How Much Life Insurance Coverage Do You Need?
Most financial advisors recommend you have life insurance equal to 10 times your salary.
That would require $500,000 in coverage based on a $50,000 salary. If you’re already getting $100,000 or $200,000 from your employer, that will require a private policy of between $300,000 and $400,000 to make up the difference.
When you consider the impact on your family from the loss of your salary over a period of 10 years or longer, $500,000 hardly seems out of line.
While that may provide for your family’s survival until your children reach the age of emancipation, it may not even be enough to cover the cost of college when the time comes.
That’s why having a private, supplemental life insurance policy is so important.
The Common Flaw in Employer-only Life Insurance Most Never Think About
There’s another critical reason to have your own life insurance policy that’s seldom considered.
If you ever leave the police department, except for retirement, you’ll likely lose your employer-paid life insurance.
While you may be able to purchase a private policy at that point, you’ll be older than you are now, which will make the policy more expensive.
In addition, if you’ve developed any health conditions over the years, the policy will be even more expensive, or you may not be eligible.
The best time to buy life insurance is always right now. Does that sound like an oversimplification? It isn’t.
You are younger right now than you’ll ever be at any time in the future, and if your health is good now, you can get the least expensive policy possible. There’s no way to know what your health will be at some unspecified time in the future.
How Insurance Companies Consider Life Insurance for Police Officers
Every life insurance company has its own policy when it comes to police officers. But there are some basics that are common to all.
For example, all life insurance companies will consider the following factors in underwriting your policy and setting your premium level:
- Your age.
- The state of your health (any significant, chronic health conditions).
- The health history of your immediate family (mainly, parents and siblings).
- Potentially hazardous behaviors like smoking, excessive alcohol consumption, or illicit drug use.
- Any high-risk hobbies like skydiving, racing, deep-sea diving, or backcountry skiing, as a short list 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.
- Other factors unique to each individual insurance company.
Each of these factors will have a significant impact on both the approval of your policy and the premium you pay. If you’re clear in all of the above, you’ll have little trouble getting an affordable policy, even as a police officer.
Insurance Underwriting Factors Unique to Police Officers
As is the case with all high-risk occupations, the insurance company will want to know the specifics of your job.
Obviously, police work isn’t a single job, but one with many variations. Those variations can have an impact on your premium.
The insurance company will consider the following factors in connection with your occupation:
- Do you work in the office or out on patrol? If you work in the office, it’s unlikely your premium will be adjusted for your occupation. But if you work on patrol, your occupation will be considered riskier, resulting in a slightly higher premium.
- The type of cases you normally handle. If your job mostly involves traffic control and routine police work, your premium may be adjusted slightly or not at all. But, if you’re dealing with a high crimes unit, you should expect to pay a higher premium.
- Use of safety equipment. If you routinely make use of protective equipment, like bulletproof vests, your premium will be lower. It’s similar to safety equipment in a vehicle when purchasing auto insurance.
- Carrying a gun. This may seem absurd on the surface, since most police officers do carry a gun. But it will be a factor in determining your insurance premium. Even if you are not involved in a high-crime job, carrying a gun increases the risk of armed confrontation. There’s also the possibility of being a victim of friendly fire, a firearm accident, or even a shooting death as a result of a conflict between two police officers.
While some of these considerations may seem absurd, since carrying firearms with the potential for violent confrontations is part of a police officer’s job, it must be remembered that most occupations don’t include carrying or using firearms.
The insurance company will do a careful analysis to determine the degree of risk that each of the above factors carries with your particular position with the department.
Apart from the potential for confrontation or the use of firearms, the potential risk of death from traffic accidents is also a significant factor. This is true even for police officers working primarily in traffic control.
The classification puts you on the road on a regular basis, which is considered a risk itself. It exposes you to a higher chance of death from a traffic accident (in your patrol car or on the street directing traffic), or from a high-speed chase.
How Much Will Being a Police Officer Affect Your Premiums?
If you’re in excellent health, you have no family history of major health conditions before the age of 70, you don’t have any bad behavioral habits, and you have a clean driving record and good credit rating, you’ll be eligible for the best insurance premiums available to anyone.
If you have a low-risk position within the department, like a desk job, there will typically be no additional premium based on your occupation. However, if you are regularly on patrol, and especially if you are involved in high-crime activities, there will be a premium increase based on your job.
Some insurance companies may charge an additional fee for your occupation. But this may be subject to change based on your specific job. For example, if you move from traffic control to a desk job, the additional fee will be removed.
In certain cases, such as when you are involved in a high-crime unit, with its attendant higher risks, you may get what’s known as a table rating. This is when the insurance company will assign a custom-designed premium based on your specific risk factors. In other words, your premium will be based on rates that come off the chart.
But in doing so, the insurance company will also take into consideration the normal factors that apply with underwriting a policy. Again, if you’re a well-qualified applicant apart from your job, that will all work in your favor, minimizing the impact of any premium increase.
Since a term policy has a limited duration, the premium will be much lower than it will be for permanent coverage. That’s because the insurance companies are less likely to pay a claim within the term of, say, a 10-year term policy than a permanent one.
As a police officer, term insurance should be your first consideration.
How to Apply for Life Insurance for Police Officers
Applying for life insurance for police officers shouldn’t be taken lightly. It’s a specialized occupation that requires special handling for insurance purposes.
The best way to get coverage at the lowest possible premium level is by working with a life insurance broker, like us. As brokers, we work with dozens of different life insurance companies. That gives us the advantage of being able to place your application with the company or companies likely to take the most favorable view of your status as a police officer.
Don’t be drawn toward those insurance providers that advertise the lowest possible premium rates. Those are designed specifically for no-risk and low-risk applicants.
As a police officer, you may find yourself paying a much higher premium than the one advertised, or even have your application rejected. After all, the only reason those providers are able to offer very-low-cost coverage is because they only approve the lowest-risk applicants.
Anytime you have any significant risk in your insurance profile, it’s always best to work with a life insurance broker. We specialize in high-risk life insurance coverage, and will know exactly how to handle the process.
And don’t worry that you’ll pay a higher premium just for using our services. Our compensation comes directly from the insurance companies, and at no additional premium charge to you.
If you’re a police officer, or if you work in any other high-risk occupation, we’re here to help you find the right insurance company that will accommodate your career as well as charge the most reasonable premium. We work with dozens of companies and know in advance which will work best for you.*While we make every effort to keep our site updated, please be aware that "timely" information on this page, such as quote estimates, or pertinent details about companies, may only be accurate as of its last edit day. Huntley Wealth & Insurance Services and its representatives do not give legal or tax advice. Please consult your own legal or tax adviser.