Skydiving statistics

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

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Logan Sachon

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Logan Sachon

Logan Sachon

Senior Managing Editor, Research

Logan Sachon is the senior managing editor of research at Policygenius, where she oversees our insurance and financial data studies and surveys. Previously, she co-founded The Billfold, a groundbreaking personal finance site for millennials named one of TIME's 25 best blogs of the year.

Published April 9, 2022 | 2 min read

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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

YearSkydiving Fatalities
202110
202011
201915
201813
201724
201621
201521
201424
201324
201219
201125
201021
200916
200830
200718
200621
200527
200421
200325
200233
200135
200032

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

LicensePercentage of skydiving deaths, 2000-2021
Skydiving D License58%
Skydiving C License12%
Skydiving B License7%
Skydiving A License8%
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.