If you are considering taking out Income Protection, then your occupation is going to be a significant factor in that process. Having an occupation which is statistically more risky than others is likely to increase your need and desire to have adequate financial protection in place, but equally, it is going to push the cost of premiums up and may even affect your ability to get certain types of cover from some insurers.
This article should give you a broad overview of the sorts dangerous jobs that affect income protection and allow you to assess your choices moving forwards. We will also take a brief look at dangerous hobbies which might affect your premiums as well.
What's classed as a dangerous job?
If you asked a hundred people to name dangerous jobs that affect income protection some jobs would immediately be on everyone’s lips. Solider or other armed forces personnel, police officer, and firefighter for example.
However, there are plenty of more mundane occupations which might not seem obvious until you think about the nature of the job. Statistically the largest number of fatalities in the UK by sector is in agriculture, with a mix of hard physical work, heavy machinery and power tools, and the added factor of live animals (a typical cow weighs in at nearly a tonne) farming is right up there. Of course, there are nearly half a million people employed in the sector.
Even more (some two million) work in the building and construction which comes second for total fatalities. The hazards are not just restricted to falling from heights, although scaffolders roofers etc face additional risks, but includes falling objects, as well as machinery, and working with hazardous substances.
Other dangerous occupations not already mentioned include lumberjack, deep sea fisherman, offshore oil worker, professional drivers including bus driver, courier, taxi and private hire driver, and road haulage driver, road-sweeper, recycling operator, particularly those working with electronic waste, slaughterhouse worker and butcher, most trades, such as carpenter, plumber, electrician, and car mechanic.
This list is by no means exhaustive or in any specific order, so do make sure you get specific advice for your personal circumstances before committing to a particular policy.
What about hobbies?
From reading this it should become obvious that certain activities outside of work can also affect your premiums. If you regularly participate in sports or activities which involve the same sorts of risks as outlined here, such as SCUBA diving, motor sports, cycling, mountaineering, or skiing, or if your hobby brings you into regular contact with dangerous substances, equipment, or environments then you should take this into account.
How do insurers determine my occupation's level of risk?
There are several factors which insurers consider when assessing dangerous jobs that affect income protection. Among these are working at heights or in hazardous environments, such as building sites. It is not just a risk of falling, but of having objects fall on you. Any occupation which involves working with or being around heavy machinery is likely to be more dangerous. Jobs which involve flying, going to sea, working underground or underwater are also typically considered dangerous, and it probably goes without saying that if you work with explosives, hazardous chemicals, or power tools then your occupation will creep up the list.
Among the less obvious factors are jobs which involve a lot of physical work and heavy lifting, and those which require you to drive high mileage, either because driving is the job itself, e.g. bus driver, delivery driver, or because there is a lot of driving to get to sites, e.g. travelling sales, or care work. The risk goes up if the vehicle is a motorbike rather than in a car.
Lastly, when considering dangerous jobs that affect income protection, one should not ignore the risks involved in working with animals, not just for esoteric roles such as lion taming, or crocodile wrangling, but things like farming or veterinary work carry significant risks. Animals can be unpredictable and surprisingly strong, as well as in some cases carrying diseases which can cross to humans. It’s not all doom and gloom, but it is important to be realistic and honest about the nature of your work so that you can ensure you get the right level and type of cover.
What are the must-have policy features for any occupation?
Perhaps the most important things for any income protection policy is to have the right level of cover for your income and specific circumstances. You can get more information here in answer to the question, ‘How much Income Protection cover do I need?’ Regardless of your occupation, you will want to make sure you are still able to cover those basic living expenses should the worst happen.
The next important consideration is the length of time the policy will pay out for. Short term income protection will pay out, usually for two years. Bear in mind however, that your employer may already offer you some protection which means the policy won’t need to start paying you until after that protection runs out. In some cases that may protect you for up to two years.
Long term income protection will usually pay you until your normal retirement age in the event that you can never return to work. If you are taking out this type of protection, you should consider whether you need the payments to be index linked, or if you will be able to manage if they can remain flat. There are a range of other features that may be available from different policies, and each one needs to be considered with reference to your unique circumstances. As always, you should get advice before making a commitment to any particular policy.