Do pilots pay more for life insurance?


Being a pilot could get you higher life insurance rates, but depending on why and how often you fly, you might not see a price difference at all.

Nupur Gambhir


Nupur Gambhir

Nupur Gambhir

Life Insurance Expert

Nupur Gambhir is an insurance editor at Policygenius and licensed Life, Health, and Disability agent in New York.

Published February 17, 2020|4 min read

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Underwriters determine how much you pay for your life insurance premiums not just by your age and health, but also by your career and your hobbies. If you’re a pilot by trade or fly for fun, life insurance companies could consider you a high-risk candidate, which has ramifications for your life insurance policy.

Key Takeaways

  • Life insurance rates for pilots are based on their occupational rating

  • Student and private pilots often need to pay an additional cost on top of their life insurance premiums

  • Some life insurance companies require pilots to opt into an aviation exclusion rider

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Why your occupation affects your life insurance rates

During the underwriting process, you’ll be asked about your health, medical history, and lifestyle choices, including what you do for work and any risky hobbies you might have.

Life insurance companies use this information to evaluate the risk of insuring you by using something called a mortality table. The more likely you are to die at a given age, the riskier you are for a life insurance company to cover you. This results in a price hike in how much you pay for life insurance premiums and occasionally, complete denial of coverage.

Can pilots get life insurance?

Being a pilot won’t disqualify you from getting life insurance coverage, though whether you fly for fun or for work determines how life insurance companies underwrite you. Additional factors, such as how often you fly or the training you’ve received can impact what life insurance classification you receive.

Each life insurance company has its own guidelines regarding occupational ratings, or the additional cost you pay for life insurance based on your career choice. You’ll answer questions about this during the underwriting process.

Underwriting process for pilots

During the initial interview in the underwriting process, you’re asked questions about your health, family background, and lifestyle choices — including whether or not you hold an aviation license. If you’re not a pilot by trade but fly for fun, the underwriter will want to know if you’ve flown in the last two to five years and if you intend to fly within the next two years.

Holding an aviation license will usually trigger some additional underwriting so that the life insurance company can accurately determine what your life insurance policy should look like.

Some of the questions you might be asked about your flying hobby could include:

  • What level of training you have

  • How frequently you fly

  • Instruments you have a license for

  • Type of aircraft you fly

  • The purpose and reasoning behind the activity

It’s best to be as honest as possible when answering these questions. If your life insurance company finds out you lied during your application and you die in an airplane accident, they could completely invalidate your coverage and your beneficiaries won’t receive the death benefit.

Best life insurance companies for pilots

Every life insurance company treats each individual circumstance differently — and this is no different for how they classify pilots. Depending on your age, how frequently you fly, and whether you are a commercial pilot, student pilot, or fly for fun, you can receive one of the following life insurance classifications:

  • Preferred Plus - The best life insurance classification that receives the lowest premiums. Individuals in preferred plus have a long life expectancy

  • Preferred - A preferred classification is due to minor stipulations that lead to rates that are lower than preferred plus, but still competitively priced

  • Standard Plus - People with a standard plus rating usually have an average life expectancy and receive average life insurance rates

  • Standard - Individuals in this classification receive high life insurance premiums due to an average life expectancy

  • Substandard - Not technically a classification like the others, it provides a table rating for people with a more complicated history. Life insurance premiums for people who receive a substandard rating are costly and increase 25% for each table rating you receive

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Keeping in mind that at the end of the day, the classification you receive is up to the jurisdiction of the underwriter, here’s how the top life insurance companies classify pilots:

AIGPreferred plus for corporate pilots if aircraft is company-owned and maintained at the same standards as a commercial aircraft and flies within the US and Canada onlyStandard plus with a flat extra fee depending on hours in flight and where pilot fliesStandard plus with a flat extra fee
Banner LifePreferred Plus and Preferred available for commercial pilots with regularly scheduled flights flying within the US and CanadaStandard plus depending on hours in flightStandard with a flat extra fee
Lincoln FinancialPreferred PlusPreferred depending on hours flown, age, background, and limited to flights within the US and CanadaStandard with a flat extra fee
Mutual of OmahaPreferred PlusPreferred Plus depending on hours in flight with flat extra feePreferred with flat extra fee
Pacific LifePreferred Plus, with a flat extra depending on individual circumstancePreferred depending on hours in flight, age, type of aircraft flown, and instrument flight ratingUp to underwriter jurisdiction
PrincipalPreferred PlusPreferred Plus depending on hours in flightStandard Plus with a flat extra fee
ProtectivePreferred PlusPreferred with a flat extra fee depending on hours in flight and ageStandard Plus with a flat extra fee
PrudentialPreferred Plus depending on years of experience and type of aircraftPreferred depending on hours in flight and years of experienceStandard Plus with a flat extra fee
SBLIPreferred Plus within the US and CanadaStandard depending on hours of experience with a flat extra feeStandard depending on hours of experience with a flat extra fee
SymetraPreferred PlusPreferred or Standard Plus depending on flight hours, instrument flight rating, age, motor vehicle report, and limited to flights within U.S. and CanadaUp to underwriter jurisdiction
TransamericaPreferred PlusPreferred depending on hours in flightPreferred with flat extra fee

Essentially, pilots for commercial US airlines have a higher chance of receiving best rates, whereas student pilots or pilots who fly for fun don’t always have the same luck.

Why are commercial flights underwritten differently than private flights or students charged more than professional pilots? It boils down to what life insurance companies consider to be safe. Commercial airlines are seen to be a lot safer than private planes and having additional years of experience is going to give you a leg up in the application process.

How being a pilot affects your life insurance rates

Though each life insurance company will classify your individual circumstance differently — some may offer you the best possible life insurance rates while others will offer you a table rating — it’s important to be aware of the possibility of paying additional fees or having some prohibitory clauses in your life insurance contract.

Higher rates

Depending on how the life insurance company classifies aviation activity, you may have to pay an additional premium on top of your policy’s base rate called a flat extra fee. The flat extra fee you’re charged can range anywhere from $2 to $5 per $1,000 of coverage and can end up costing you an additional $5,000 a year on a $1,000,000 policy.

Life insurance exclusions

In lieu of paying the flat extra fee, some life insurance companies may include an exclusion into your policy, called the aviation exclusion rider. Other life insurance companies may require this of pilots in order to acquire coverage at a low cost.

If you add an aviation exclusion rider onto your policy and die in a flying accident, your beneficiaries would not receive the death benefit.

Here’s how life insurance companies treat exclusions for pilots:

AIGCan be added on to policy if driving history is also rated
Banner LifeRequired for private pilots over the age of 70 and in order for any pilot to receive a Preferred Plus and Preferred rate
Lincoln FinancialRequired in order to receive best rates
Mutual of OmahaRequired for private pilots and crewmembers for Preferred Plus, Preferred, and Standard Plus ratings
Pacific LifeRequired if applicant is under the age of 19 or above the age of 70, policy rating is Table 4 or higher, and if there is no current aviation activity but there was recent aviation activity within the last two years or future aviation activity is intended
PrincipalRequired for Preferred Plus rating
ProtectiveAvailable based on underwriter jurisdiction
SymetraAvailable if application would otherwise be approved
TransamericaRequired for Preferred Plus rating. Not available for applicants ages 71 and older

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