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Skydiving statistics

When you apply for life insurance, you’ll be asked about your hobbies. One that could increase your rates: skydiving.

Logan Sachon

By

Logan Sachon

Logan Sachon

Senior Managing Editor, News & Research

Logan Sachon is the senior managing editor of news and research at Policygenius, where she oversees our insurance and financial news, surveys, and data studies. As a journalist, her work has appeared in The Guardian, Business Insider, CNN Money, BuzzFeed, Money Under 30, VICE, New York Magazine, and elsewhere.

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The United States Parachute Association is the preeminent resource for skydivers and skydiving info — including skydiving safety and skydiving fatality information. Their data reveals that skydiving does have some risks (life insurance underwriters will concur), but that over the past 20 years, annual deaths have decreased.

The first recorded parachute jump from an airplane took place in Ohio in 1919, and the popularity of skydiving has grown from there. The U.S. has the most skydivers in the world.

500,000: Approximate number of first-time jump students who try skydiving in the U.S. each year. [1]

39,412: Number of United States Parachute Association members, including instructors, who recorded skydives in 2021. [2]

3.57 million: Number of jumps, including tandem skydiver jump numbers, USPA members (and their first-time students) made in 2021.  [3]

How many people die from skydiving?

Dying in a skydiving accident is rare, but it does happen. The USPA tracks all skydiving accidents and records skydiving injuries and fatalities, releasing data each year.

10: Number of fatal skydiving accidents in 2021, according to the United States Parachute Association.  [4]

0.28: Number of fatalities per 100,000 jumps in 2021, according the USPA.  [5]

486: Total number of skydiving deaths, 2000-2021.  [6]

22: Average annual number of skydiving deaths each year, 2000-2021.  [7]

0.77: Average number of deaths per 100,000 jumps, 2000-2021.  [8]

Number of skydiving fatalities each year in the U.S., 2000-2021

Year

Skydiving Fatalities

2021

10

2020

11

2019

15

2018

13

2017

24

2016

21

2015

21

2014

24

2013

24

2012

19

2011

25

2010

21

2009

16

2008

30

2007

18

2006

21

2005

27

2004

21

2003

25

2002

33

2001

35

2000

32

Table data: USPA [9]

What are the main causes of skydiving deaths?

According to the USPA, landing problems have lead to the largest share of skydiving deaths in the last 20 years, over one third. Equipment problems lead to the second largest share at 13.1%. 

34.4% (144 people, 2000-2021): Deaths caused by landing problems, including human error. [10]

13.1% (55 people, 2000-2021): Deaths caused by skydiving equipment problems, including parachute malfunction. [11]

11.7% (49 people, 2000-2021): Deaths caused by canopy collision.  [12]

8.6% (36 people, 2000-2021): Deaths caused by medical problems.  [13]

6.4% (27 people, 2000-2021): Deaths caused by incorrect emergency procedures (human error). [14]

Who dies in skydiving accidents? 

Most skydiving deaths in the last 20 years have been the most experienced skydivers: skydivers with D licenses. To get a D license, a skydiver must have performed at least 500 jumps and spent a minimum of three total hours in freefall. The next largest share of skydiving deaths have been students with no license. 

Number of skydiving deaths by license, 2000-2021

License

Percentage of skydiving deaths, 2000-2021

Skydiving D License

58%

Skydiving C License

12%

Skydiving B License

7%

Skydiving A License

8%

Skydiving student (no license)

15%

Table data: USPA [15]

How many people are injured skydiving? 

  • 125: Number of non-fatal skydiving accidents reported in 2020.  [16]

  • Common skydiving injuries can range from “scuffed elbows to broken bones.” [17]

  • Skydivers can get broken ankles or wrists from failing to perform a proper “parachute landing fall.” [18]

More skydiving facts

18: Minimum age for skydivers in the U.S.  [19]

3: Number of miles that a wearable light must be visible for on night jumps. [20]

45-60 seconds: Length of free fall (or freefall) time for tandem skydiving jumps. [21]

10,000-13,000: Typical altitude in feet of  tandem skydiving jumps. [22]

2: Number of parachutes every skydiver jumps with, one main parachute and one reserve parachute. [23]

Skydiving and life insurance 

Because of the risk of skydiving, insurance companies ask about it when you apply for life insurance. They’ll want to know:

  • How many jumps you take per year 

  • If you’re a member of a professional association 

  • If you’re a skydiving student or skydiving instructor 

  • Whether you compete or perform stunts while skydiving 

Based on how you answer these questions, and how the insurance company you’re applying with rates the risk of skydiving, you may be given two options: 

  1. Flat extra fee: Your insurance company may add a “flat extra fee” to your policy, which means you’ll pay a certain dollar amount in premium per $1,000 of coverage, in addition to the premium set by your health rating or life insurance classification

  2. Exclusion: Some companies may offer a skydiving exclusion on your policy, so you wouldn’t pay the flat extra fee - but your policy wouldn’t pay out for a skydiving death, either.

References

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Policygenius uses external sources, including government data, industry studies, and reputable news organizations to supplement proprietary marketplace data and internal expertise. Learn more about how we use and vet external sources as part of our

editorial standards.
  1. USPA

    . "

    How safe is skydiving?

    ." Accessed April 09, 2022.

  2. Parachutist

    . "

    The 2022 Non-Fatal Incident Summary

    ." Accessed April 09, 2022.

  3. Parachutist

    . "

    Safety Check: Fly it, Don't Fight it

    ." Accessed April 09, 2022.

  4. USPA

    . "

    Skydiver's Information Manual 2021-2022

    ." Accessed April 09, 2022.

  5. USPA

    . "

    General FAQs

    ." Accessed April 09, 2022.

Corrections

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Author

Senior Managing Editor, News & Research

Logan Sachon

Senior Managing Editor, News & Research

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Logan Sachon is the senior managing editor of news and research at Policygenius, where she oversees our insurance and financial news, surveys, and data studies. As a journalist, her work has appeared in The Guardian, Business Insider, CNN Money, BuzzFeed, Money Under 30, VICE, New York Magazine, and elsewhere.

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