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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.
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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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.
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.
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.
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:
|LIFE INSURANCE COMPANY||COMMERCIAL PILOT||PRIVATE PILOT||STUDENT PILOT|
|AIG||Preferred 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 only||Standard plus with a flat extra fee depending on hours in flight and where pilot flies||Standard plus with a flat extra fee|
|Banner Life||Preferred Plus and Preferred available for commercial pilots with regularly scheduled flights flying within the US and Canada||Standard plus depending on hours in flight||Standard with a flat extra fee|
|Lincoln Financial||Preferred Plus||Preferred depending on hours flown, age, background, and limited to flights within the US and Canada||Standard with a flat extra fee|
|Mutual of Omaha||Preferred Plus||Preferred Plus depending on hours in flight with flat extra fee||Preferred with flat extra fee|
|Pacific Life||Preferred Plus, with a flat extra depending on individual circumstance||Preferred depending on hours in flight, age, type of aircraft flown, and instrument flight rating||Up to underwriter jurisdiction|
|Principal||Preferred Plus||Preferred Plus depending on hours in flight||Standard Plus with a flat extra fee|
|Protective||Preferred Plus||Preferred with a flat extra fee depending on hours in flight and age||Standard Plus with a flat extra fee|
|Prudential||Preferred Plus depending on years of experience and type of aircraft||Preferred depending on hours in flight and years of experience||Standard Plus with a flat extra fee|
|SBLI||Preferred Plus within the US and Canada||Standard depending on hours of experience with a flat extra fee||Standard depending on hours of experience with a flat extra fee|
|Symetra||Preferred Plus||Preferred or Standard Plus depending on flight hours, instrument flight rating, age, motor vehicle report, and limited to flights within U.S. and Canada||Up to underwriter jurisdiction|
|Transamerica||Preferred Plus||Preferred depending on hours in flight||Preferred 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.
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.
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.
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:
|LIFE INSURANCE COMPANY||EXCLUSION POLICY|
|AIG||Can be added on to policy if driving history is also rated|
|Banner Life||Required for private pilots over the age of 70 and in order for any pilot to receive a Preferred Plus and Preferred rate|
|Lincoln Financial||Required in order to receive best rates|
|Mutual of Omaha||Required for private pilots and crewmembers for Preferred Plus, Preferred, and Standard Plus ratings|
|Pacific Life||Required 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|
|Principal||Required for Preferred Plus rating|
|Protective||Available based on underwriter jurisdiction|
|Symetra||Available if application would otherwise be approved|
|Transamerica||Required for Preferred Plus rating. Not available for applicants ages 71 and older|
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