Header image

How much does having a dangerous job affect your life insurance? 

 

People who have naturally dangerous jobs – such as construction workers who operate heavy machinery or farmers who have to deal with livestock – might believe that their riskier jobs increase the cost of their life insurance premiums. But is this the case?

Not according to the latest research from MoneySuperMarket, at least.

For example, we discovered that builders who regularly work at heights but who live healthy lives are likely to have cheaper premiums than someone who has an office job but who smokes.

MoneySuperMarket set out to discover just how much of an effect your job has on a life insurance quote, and which other factors are involved.

 

How is your life insurance quote decided in the first place?

 

Everyone is different, with diverse interests, hobbies, lifestyles and jobs. This means every life insurance policy is unique and the price can therefore vary. The cost of a policy can also be affected by your age and even the location of your home, as well as how much you choose to be covered for. We’ve listed as many of the factors as we can below – albeit not in order of importance – which explains why life insurance premium costs may differ.

How is your quote decided?

 

If you’re concerned that your job will affect your life insurance premium, this shouldn’t put you off taking out cover, as there are many other factors that play a part when it comes to the cost of your policy.

How does working in a risky industry affect life insurance premiums?

 

In order to analyse the impact of working in a risky industry on life insurance, we cross-referenced official Health and Safety Executive (HSE) data on fatalities and injuries in the workplace over the last five years1 with MoneySuperMarket data on premiums3.

The HSE data provides information on the rate of accidents or fatalities (number of incidents per 100,000 workers) across 21 industries in the UK, with a higher number indicating a greater risk for that industry. By analysing our premium data for individual occupations, we were able to estimate an average premium for each industry as a whole2.

As life insurance costs are determined by such a wide variety of factors, all premium data utilised in this study should be taken as indicative only and may not reflect the price you would see should you enquire. Any industry with fewer than 15 relevant job roles in our data has been discounted from the study.

 

Representative job roles for each industry

  • Chef
  • Restaurant manager
  • Chef manager
  • Café assistant
  • Hotel manager
  • Head chef
  • Chef de partie
  • Café manager
  • Chef de cuisine
  • Food operative
  • Hotel assistant
  • Café owner
  • Fast food restaurant assistant
  • Food technologist
  • Restaurant proprietor
  • Secretary
  • Admin assistant
  • Manager
  • Support worker
  • Customer adviser
  • Office administrator
  • Office manager
  • Receptionist
  • Administration clerk
  • Administration staff
  • Company director
  • Administration manager
  • Personal assistant
  • Administrator (office)
  • Managing director
  • Farmer
  • Groundsman
  • Gardener
  • Greenkeeper
  • Farm manager
  • Tree surgeon
  • Horticulturalist
  • Farm worker/labourer
  • Agricultural engineer
  • Fisherman
  • Agricultural contractor
  • Farm assistant
  • Agricultural labourer
  • Agronomist
  • Fish Farmer
  • Producer (film, theatre)
  • TV producer
  • Actor/actress (no stunt work)
  • Yoga teacher
  • Tattoo artist
  • Sports centre manager
  • Art director
  • Graphic artist
  • Coach (sports)
  • Broadcaster
  • Artist
  • Theatre sound engineer
  • Theatre director
  • TV director
  • Freelance artist
  • Builder
  • Joiner
  • Bricklayer
  • Plasterer
  • Construction work
  • Building surveyor
  • Roofer (up to 40’)
  • Building contractor
  • Maintenance builder
  • Roofer (40’ and up)
  • Crane driver
  • Building inspector
  • Roof repairer
  • Driver (construction)
  • Builders’ merchant
  • Teacher
  • Teaching assistant
  • Lecturer
  • Head teacher
  • Deputy head teacher
  • Education officer
  • Sports coach
  • Primary school teacher
  • Dance teacher
  • PE teacher
  • Music teacher
  • Teacher’s aide
  • Professor
  • Supply teacher
  • Music teacher (private)
  • Electrical contractor
  • Electrical engineer
  • Electrician (domestic)
  • Electrician (industrial)
  • Gas appliance mechanic
  • Electrical fitter
  • Gas fitter
  • Electrical craftsman
  • Maintenance electrician
  • Electrician (construction)
  • Electrical technician
  • Rigger (oil and natural gas)
  • Electrician (offshore)
  • Offshore scaffolder (oil or gas)
  • Gas board superintendent
  • Accountant
  • Finance manager
  • Chartered accountant
  • Bank manager
  • Financial analyst
  • Bank staff
  • Financial adviser
  • Insurance broker
  • Finance director
  • Credit controller
  • Auditor
  • Banker
  • Book-keeper
  • Accountancy assistant
  • Financial consultant 
  • Nurse
  • Care assistant
  • Carer
  • Health care assistant
  • Doctor
  • Social worker
  • Nursery nurse
  • Nurse (sister)
  • Staff nurse
  • Retirement home owner
  • Physiotherapist
  • Pharmacist
  • Nursery assistant
  • Midwife
  • Occupational therapist
  • IT consultant
  • Software engineer
  • Business analyst
  • IT analyst
  • IT manager
  • Software consultant
  • Telecommunications engineer
  • IT contractor
  • Computer analyst
  • Computer engineer
  • Analyst (other)
  • IT director
  • Communications officer
  • Systems analyst
  • IT technician
  • Engineer
  • Factory worker
  • Engineer (light manual)
  • Mechanical engineer
  • Carpenter
  • Machine operator
  • Factory worker
  • Manufacturing controller
  • Assembler
  • Factory foreman
  • Factory assistant
  • Sheet metal worker
  • Factory manager
  • Manufacturer’s agent
  • Assembly line operator
  • Project engineer
  • Land surveyor
  • Oil refinery worker
  • Mechanic (oil rig)
  • Geologist
  • Oilman
  • Excavator driver
  • Geophysicist
  • Rig mechanic
  • Chief engineer
  • Driller (onshore)
  • Quarry manager
  • Subsea engineer
  • Project manager
  • Director
  • Scientist
  • Research assistant
  • Lab technician
  • Technician
  • Technician (light manual)
  • Research scientist
  • Service technician
  • Technical engineer
  • Technical controller
  • Engineering technician
  • Clinical scientist
  • Biological scientist
  • Civil servant
  • Local government officer
  • Police constable
  • Civil engineer
  • Security guard
  • Prison officer
  • Police officer
  • Security officer
  • Firefighter
  • Soldier
  • Police sergeant
  • Security consultant
  • Army
  • Police detective
  • Inspector (not police)
  • Estate agent
  • Property and estate manager
  • Property manager
  • Property developer (no manual work)
  • Estate agent manager
  • Landlord (property, no manual work)
  • Property developer (some manual work)
  • Estate manager
  • Property dealer
  • Landlord (property, some manual work)
  • Estate manager (manual work)
  • Property developer (manual work)
  • Landlord (food and drink, no manual work)
  • Negotiator (estate agents)
  • Landlord (food and drink, manual work)
  • HGV driver
  • Taxi driver
  • Bus driver
  • Driver (delivery)
  • Warehouse assistant
  • Warehouse manager
  • Transport manager
  • Lorry driver
  • Train driver
  • Fork lift truck driver
  • Cabin crew
  • Transport planner
  • LGV driver
  • Coach driver
  • Van driver
  • Sales manager
  • Retail shop manager
  • Sales adviser
  • Shop assistant
  • Sales and marketing manager
  • Sales administrator
  • Retailer
  • Sales executive
  • Mechanic
  • Sales director
  • Buyer (retail)
  • Area retail manager
  • Car salesman
  • Car mechanic
  • Retail shop manager (admin only)

 

Referring to HSE data on the average rate of accidents per 100,000 workers, we ranked each industry from the most dangerous to the least. The data we examined suggested that the relationship between life insurance costs and risk might not be as straightforward as you would think.

Indicative cost of average premium when compared to relative risk of the industry

Average accident rate per 100,000 workers1

Industry

Average Premium3

4190

Agriculture, forestry and fishing

£27.58

2840

Construction

£31.25

2420

Accommodation and food service activities

£27.80

2320

Transportation and storage

£28.00

2230

Manufacturing

£25.09

2200

Public administration and defence; compulsory social security

£27.70

2170

Wholesale and retail trade; repair of motor vehicles and motorcycles

£27.71

1880

Arts, entertainment and recreation

£28.69

1830

Human health and social work activities

£26.76

1610

Education

£24.90

1510

Administrative and support service activities

£28.27

950

Real estate activities

£51.78

830

Professional, scientific and technical activities

£26.04

510

Information and communication

£29.92

440

Financial and insurance activities

£29.32

 

In fact, the most at-risk industry of the 15 listed – agriculture, forestry and fishing – only had the 11th highest average life insurance premium (£27.58)3, despite 47% more accidents per 100,000 workers on average than the second most dangerous industry, construction1.

What’s more, real estate activities had by far the most expensive premium (£51.78)3, a full 88% higher than agriculture, forestry and fishing, despite an average accident rate that was 77% lower1.

This same story emerged when we looked at fatality rates, which have a more direct link to life insurance costs.

The most dangerous industry by this measure was again agriculture, forestry and fishing, which saw on average 8.2 fatalities per 100,000 workers during the five-year period we examined1.

The average premium for this industry (£27.58) was nevertheless lower than those for mining and quarrying (£31.47), construction (£31.25), transportation and storage (£28.00), and electricity, gas, steam and air conditioning supply (£32.32)3 – even though the fatality rate was, respectively, 253%, 363%, 801% and 843% higher1.

This should come as a welcome surprise for those employed in more dangerous industries, who fear higher life insurance premiums. In reality, separate data indicates that other factors beyond your job may have a much bigger effect on your life insurance premiums.

How risky occupations affect your lifelong insurance costs

 

The limited correlation between premiums and risk is something that continues at an occupation level as well.

Looking solely at the jobs with the most life insurance enquiries within each industry, we can see that those in potentially more dangerous roles often do not pay the most for their insurance over the course of their lifetime.

 

Representative job roles for each industry

 

Given that the average age for life insurance enquiries was 38, and assuming an average lifespan of 81 years (the combined average lifetime in the UK4), we can estimate how much customers in these roles might pay in total over the 43 years they were covered for.

 

Occupation with the most enquiries in each industry, ranked by risk

The figures demonstrate that while builders and farmers – those working in more dangerous industries – may pay more than the average over their lifetime, they are still paying less than IT consultants3 - who work in an industry with one of the lowest accident and fatality rates1.

This again goes to show that the riskiness of your job is only one side of the story, and is good news for people worried that their job might have a negative effect on their life insurance premiums.

Premiums vs cover amounts

 

Another potential way to analyse the effect of risk on insurance premiums is to measure the ratio between the average amount of cover (known as the ‘sum insured’) and average premium for individual occupations.

As always, there are many factors involved in determining life insurance costs, but having a higher cover amount can often increase the amount you pay on a monthly basis since the payout will be larger.

This means that if a particular occupation has a low cover amount but a high premium, it’s possible that the occupation has been deemed to be more of a risk, since you will be paying more per month for a smaller eventual payout. Similarly, a low monthly cost for a high cover amount may indicate the opposite.

 

Average premiums for representative jobs vs average cover amount

Occupation

Average Premium Per Month

Average Cover Amount

Secretary

£15.24

£102,084

Teacher

£23.69

£196,275

Nurse

£23.97

£174,184

Accountant

£25.43

£197,488

Civil servant

£25.89

£167,614

Chef

£25.99

£154,768

Project engineer

£26.70

£232,483

Estate agent

£27.50

£214,622

Engineer

£28.12

£209,137

Programme manager

£28.91

£229,487

Electrical contractor

£29.49

£205,954

HGV driver

£29.64

£149,203

Sales manager

£30.71

£217,148

Builder

£34.03

£176,263

Farmer

£35.42

£241,780

The lifelong life insurance bill

Looking at this graph, however, it appears that the correlation between risk, premium and cover amount isn’t that strong. While some potentially higher-risk roles, such as builder and HGV driver, paid more each month for a smaller payout than potentially safer roles such as teachers and estate agents, they still got a worse deal, on average, than farmers, who work in by far the most at-risk industry1,3.

Ultimately the many factors at play in determining life insurance costs means that this graph only tells part of the story. But as above, the available evidence suggests that workers in more dangerous jobs needn’t worry about paying more than those that work in a safer environment.

The impact of smoking on life insurance when compared to risk

 

In order to highlight the importance of other factors in determining premium costs, we compared the effects of smoking with the effects of working within a risky industry.

While the impact of working in a dangerous industry on your life insurance may be mitigated by other factors, smokers across all occupations were found to pay an average of 54% more for all types of life insurance than non-smokers3.

The table below shows the difference in average premiums for smokers and non-smokers by industry.

Median premium cost for smokers and non-smokers across industries

Industry

Smoking/non-smoking

Median premium

Real estate activities

Smoking

£63.06

Information and communication

Smoking

£44.97

Real estate activities

Non-smoking

£43.10

Public administration and defence

Smoking

£42.74

Electricity, gas, steam and air conditioning supply

Smoking

£42.22

Education

Smoking

£40.90

Financial and insurance activities

Smoking

£40.84

Construction

Smoking

£38.88

Transportation and storage

Smoking

£38.44

Professional, scientific and technical activities

Smoking

£38.07

Human health and social work activities

Smoking

£36.48

Wholesale, retail trade and vehicle repair

Smoking

£36.16

Accommodation and Food Service Activities

Smoking

£36.05

Mining and quarrying

Smoking

£34.93

Manufacturing

Smoking

£34.87

Agriculture, forestry and fishing

Smoking

£30.90

Mining and quarrying

Non-smoking

£30.42

Arts, entertainment and recreation

Smoking

£28.85

Arts, entertainment and recreation

Non-smoking

£28.67

Electricity, gas, steam and air conditioning supply

Non-smoking

£26.18

Construction

Non-smoking

£25.35

Financial and insurance activities

Non-smoking

£25.06

Public administration and defence

Non-smoking

£24.57

Professional, scientific and technical activities

Non-smoking

£24.10

Information and communication

Non-smoking

£23.96

Transportation and storage

Non-smoking

£23.79

Agriculture, forestry and fishing

Non-smoking

£22.70

Manufacturing

Non-smoking

£22.61

Human health and social work activities

Non-smoking

£22.13

Accommodation and Food Service Activities

Non-smoking

£21.70

Education

Non-smoking

£21.49

Wholesale, retail trade and vehicle repair

Non-smoking

£21.34

 

As the data illustrates, whichever industry you work in – risky or not – you are likely to be paying a higher premium if you smoke.

Real estate activities is the only industry where non-smokers were among those with the top 10 most expensive premiums. In fact, smokers occupied 16 of the top 20 places3.

However, according to the HSE’s data, real estate is one of the least risky industries in terms of fatalities and injuries at work1. This means that even non-smokers in one of the least dangerous industries had higher premiums than smokers working in far more dangerous industries such as agriculture and construction, suggesting again that other factors are likely playing a much more significant role than risk in determining life insurance cost.

 

What does all this mean for you?

 

Life insurance is a difficult topic to tackle and it might seem hard to motivate yourself to get it sorted. However, concerns over the effect your job title has on the cost needn’t be a reason to put it off. By taking some simple steps and avoiding unhealthy habits, you can easily bring yourself peace of mind and get a great deal at the same time.

For those feeling anxious about the cost of life insurance, there are various ways to keep costs low without doing anything drastic like changing profession. One of the best ways is to take out a policy earlier in life. The younger you are, the less you will pay.

If this is not possible, taking steps such as reducing your alcohol consumption, stopping smoking, losing weight and shopping around can all help lower the price you pay.

And if you still have questions, MoneySuperMarket has plenty of resources and FAQs to help you understand what your life insurance policy means: https://www.moneysupermarket.com/life-insurance/

 

Looking for a cheap life insurance quote?

We compare prices from insurers across Britain to help you find the best and cheapest cover

Compare now

 

Sources

https://www.hse.gov.uk/

Using a representative sample of the 15 occupations with the most enquiries within each industry

MoneySuperMarket internal policy enquiry data ranging from 01/01/2017 to 31/01/2019

4  https://www.ons.gov.uk/

Find this helpful? You can share this article