Why firefighters & first responders need life insurance
Firefighters and first responders need life insurance to cover their financial obligations, just like anyone else. However, during the underwriting process, you might have to answer a few additional questions about your profession, depending on your job duties.
Life insurance companies use a variety of factors, including age, gender, health, and lifestyle risk factors to determine the risk of insuring you and set your rate. If you have a high-risk specialty at work, you might pay more in premiums than someone with a different occupation.
Some insurers have more flexible guidelines than others when it comes to hazardous occupations, so it’s important to shop around to find the policy that’s best for you.
Best life insurance companies for firefighters & first responders
The best life insurance company for you will depend on the specifics of your profession, as well as other factors like age, gender, and health. “The most important thing is to work with a fiduciary insurance advisor who can shop your policy across multiple carriers to find the best rate and terms possible,” says Christopher Bauchle, MSFS, RICP at Trust Wealth Strategies and career firefighter.
We used industry data, pricing from Policygenius carrier partners, and third-party ratings like AM Best and J.D. Power to pick the best insurers on the market. Our independent recommendations will help you get life insurance coverage with confidence.
Below are a few Policygenius partners that offer competitive rates for firefighters and first responders.
Best term life insurance: Legal & General America
Best for wildfire firefighters or similar specialties: Pacific Life, Prudential, Transamerica
Best whole life insurance: MassMutual
Best term life insurance for firefighters and first responders
Deemed one of our best overall life insurance companies, Legal & General America, which also does business as Banner Life and William Penn, offers affordable rates across many of its risk classifications. It also offers a no-medical-exam option for people with few health conditions or risk factors that allows you to skip the medical exam that’s a standard part of the application process
If you’re a firefighter or first responder and you don’t have a hazardous specialty, Banner Life is a great choice for term life insurance.
Best life insurance for wildfire firefighters or similar specialties
If you’re a firefighter who deals with wildfires, many insurers will view your application as an increased risk and may add a flat extra fee. Pacific Life can consider you without the extra fee, as long as you don’t participate in smoke jumping or deal with explosives on a regular basis.
Prudential can consider wildfire firefighters without adding a flat extra, depending on the specific details of their job. To qualify for Standard rates, your work can’t involve handling explosives.
Similar to Pacific Life, Transamerica will not automatically charge a flat extra fee for fighting wildfires — as long as you don’t work with explosives or participate in smoke jumping.
Best whole life insurance for firefighters and first responders
MassMutual pays higher dividends to its policyholders than other insurers. The company has high customer experience ratings compared to other carriers and consistently receives high third-party financial stability ratings, which is especially important when purchasing a lifelong policy.
How working as a first responder may impact your life insurance application
Getting life insurance as a first responder is usually a good idea, and the profession isn’t typically deemed risky enough by insurance companies to cause a drastic increase in your rates. “It may be surprising to know many life insurance companies do not discriminate against firefighters when it comes to underwriting,” says Bauchle.
If you’re gainfully employed as a first responder and have reliable income, you shouldn’t face any obstacles buying a policy due to your job.
Some insurers may have stricter guidelines and limit you to a Standard risk classification if you work in law enforcement as a first responder (Standard is the third best risk classification, meant to depict an average level of risk).
If you specialize in high-risk cases — like bomb disposal, for example — you might have to provide more details about the specifics of your profession during underwriting, and you might end up paying more money in premiums.
How working as a firefighter may impact your life insurance application
If you’re a municipal firefighter, your rates may not be affected at all by your profession, but it depends on the specific insurance company you’re applying with.
A firefighter’s life insurance application will likely contain some additional questions, including the following:
Do you work to contain wildfires?
Are you a smoke jumper/is smoke jumping part of your regular job duties?
Are you involved with any explosive plans or the use of munition?
Wildfire fighters are perceived to face greater risk on the job than other types of firefighters. If you’re a wildfire fighter, you’ll likely be limited to Standard rates — which is still the third best risk classification.
If your job involves participating in higher-risk activities like smoke jumping, you may need to pay a flat extra fee.
Flat extra fees are an additional charge per $1,000 of coverage you purchase. Common examples of flat extras include an extra $2 or $5 per $1,000 — so, if you have a $500,000 policy, you could pay an extra $1,000 to $2,500 per year.
Some insurance companies may not offer you coverage if you smoke-jump regularly as part of your work, or if you have another high-risk specialty such as working with explosives.
Working with an independent broker like Policygenius can help you find the right coverage for you from an insurance company that meets your needs. At Policygenius, our experts are licensed in all 50 states and can walk you through the entire life insurance buying process while offering transparent, unbiased advice.
Best types of life insurance for firefighters & first responders
The best type of life insurance for you will depend on your specific financial responsibilities and obligations. Below are the most popular types.
If you’re not sure which type of life insurance is best suited for your situation, a Policygenius expert can help.
Term life insurance
Term life insurance is one of the most affordable life insurance options on the market. It’s the best option for most people looking to protect their income and provide their family with a financial safety net to cover any debts — including a mortgage or any personal loans.
If your primary concern is providing your family with a buffer to replace your income if something happens to you, term life insurance is the best option for you.
Permanent life insurance
Permanent life insurance is appropriate for people who are already maximizing contributions to other investment accounts and looking to buy life insurance to diversify their investment portfolio. It “can play a crucial role if the firefighter has a need for a permanent death benefit,” says Bauchle, like dependents who require lifelong care or a lump sum needed to settle estate taxes.
Most types of permanent life insurance, like whole life insurance, are on average five to 15 times more expensive than comparable term life policies, but the exact amount will depend on the type of policy you’re purchasing, as well as your age, gender, health, and other risk factors.
How much does life insurance cost for firefighters & first responders?
A 30-year-old firefighter with a non-hazardous specialty could pay as little as $29.97 for a life insurance policy with a $500,000 death benefit payout and a 20-year term.
People with hazardous occupations are often evaluated on a case-by-case basis by insurance companies. This means that your premiums will be highly dependent on your unique situation and the aspects of your job and day-to-day duties.
Below are approximations of rates, but the best way to get an accurate life insurance quote is to have a personalized phone call with a Policygenius expert.
Term life insurance rates for firefighters & first responders
If you’re a firefighter or first responder and you don’t have a hazardous specialty like wildfire fighting or smoke jumping, and you don’t handle explosives, you could qualify for up to the rates in the left hand column with some insurers.
If you’re a firefighter or first responder and are involved in a more hazardous specialty during your day-to-day work, your rates may be closer to those in the right hand column below.
Keep in mind if you regularly participate in high-risk activities at work — like handling explosives — you may pay a flat extra fee in addition to your base premiums.
Whole life insurance rates for firefighters & first responders
Whole life insurance rates are significantly more expensive than term life insurance rates — especially if you have additional risk factors that may contribute to higher premiums.
Below are whole life insurance rates with a Standard risk classification — meant to depict an average level of risk. You might be eligible for these rates if you don’t have a hazardous specialty like wildfire fighting or smoke jumping, and you don’t handle explosives.
But you may end up paying more or less depending on your specific occupation and the type of policy you’re seeking.
$500,000 coverage amount
When should firefighters & first responders purchase life insurance?
Generally speaking, you should purchase life insurance as soon as you have the financial responsibilities that warrant a policy. Many people buy life insurance if they’re planning to purchase a home, get married, or have children. “Having the proper amount of life insurance can ensure that the firefighter will be able to accomplish the goals they have been working toward in the event of their untimely death,” says Bauchle.
Life insurance rates increase every year you wait to apply, because everyone is riskier to insure as they age. It’s smart to buy a policy when you’re younger, or as soon as you think you might need it, to secure competitive rates for the length of your term.
Benefits of life insurance for firefighters & first responders
A firefighter’s life insurance policy provides a financial safety net for loved ones if something happens to them — on the job or otherwise. The beneficiaries will be able to claim the death benefit for most causes of death, including illness or accident.
During my time working directly with clients as a life insurance agent, oftentimes people would have unique considerations due to their profession, but their motivation for buying coverage was the same — to protect their family.
You may need to consider a few additional factors depending on the types of work you do as a firefighter or first responder, but it’s still valuable to have the financial protection you need, especially if you have children, a spouse, or others who rely on you financially.