By James Tobin
LIHD Difficulty Rating
There was a time when life insurance for pilots was a really tricky issue, luckily for pilots this is less of the the case today.
That being said, several life insurance carriers still operate on underwriting standards that are severely outdated.
The purpose of this article is to provide the information necessary for a pilot to get the best deal possible on life insurance.
Until recent years,underwriting guidelines at most insurance carriers would make offers to pilots that reflected perceived risks greater than simply health.
While commercial pilots fared much better than private pilots, or students, even flying for the big airlines was no protection from being lowered a rating class.
Eventually, common sense (and actuarial tables) prevailed.
That is underwriters realized you had a better shot of being killed driving to the airport than actually flying on a plane.
Underwriting is still concerned with the experience and credentials of private pilots and will charge "flat extras" to students. However, there will be many cases in which pilots may receive preferred best pricing.
Applying for life insurance with a "dangerous occupation" is a lot like applying for life insurance with a serious pre-existing condition.
You may be thinking "but there's nothing wrong with my health, why would I be treated as if there is?"
The answer is that insurance companies want to know as much as they can about the risk they are being asked to insure.
For someone who has a serious condition, the condition is the risk to be investigated.
the case of a pilot, the risk is his flying activities (as well as health).
The information you can be expected to provide is as follows:
This information is ever changing as the life insurance industry is adapting to the reality that the skies are safer than most alternatives.
Commercial pilots-The adaption is in full force with commercial pilots. Assuming they meet all the health requirements for a specific carrier, pilot's have several options for a preferred best rating.
Private Pilots- The life insurance underwriting world has been slower to allow the best rates for private pilots.
However, if the pilot is experienced, IFR certified and the application stands up to strict scrutiny, there is an opportunity for a preferred best rate.
Student Pilot- The underwriting is much tougher for student pilots. The preferred and "preferred best" ratings that are available for experienced pilots are not offered to students.
The likely outcome for a student pilot applying for life insurance is a standard rate and a "flat extra' of $2 or $3.
The flat extra is applied per $ 1000 of face amount. So, if you by $ 100000 policy with a $2 flat extra, the policy will cost $200 additional per year.
Now you understand that different life insurance carriers will look at your occupation differently based on their appetite for the business.
Not surprisingly, they take the same approach to health matters. For example, one carrier will give a preferred best rating with high cholesterol and another will not...
Pricing/underwriting class is how insurance companies manage risk appetite.
So, it makes the most sense to have as many options as possible to get the best rates. The only way to accomplish this is with an independent agent. See this case study.
So called "captive" agents, folks who only work for one main carrier, do not have the 50+ options available that an independent does.
Furthermore, if the captive agent doesn't have a competitive option available for your need, he has to try and convince you that his company is 'the best" Whatever that means.
After all, he has to eat too...and he has a strong financial incentive not to mention alternatives he cannot (or doesn't want to) present.
Key Take Aways
In short, life insurance underwriting for pilots is better than it ever has been before.
As carriers have come to the realization of the actuarial safety of flying, opportunities for the best rates are less and less limited everyday.
Using an independent agent is the only way to guarantee seeing all the best rates. This applies whether you fly a plane or sit in a control tower.
If you have any questions about obtaining life insurance for a pilot, please give us a call or drop us an email. We'd love to hear from you.
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Jim Tobin is the owner of Life Insurance Help Desk, a Fairfield County, CT. life insurance agency. You can find him on LinkedIn and Facebook. Over the past 10 years, Jim has used his CFP-financial planning designation to help individuals with their life insurance needs. In addition to working with life insurance clients, Jim teaches ESL classes in his spare time. He resides with his beautiful wife Nicole and the 3 cats that rule their lives..
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