In 2022, the United States Parachute Association (USPA) reported that around 3.9 million skydiving jumps were completed — an increase from 2021’s 3.57 million jumps. Although safety standards have increased exponentially, there is still a margin of error and a chance that something could go wrong. Because of the risk, finding life insurance for skydivers may require some extra steps. Bankrate can help. Our insurance editorial team put together this guide on what you need to know about skydiving and life insurance to help you find the best policy.

Skydiving and life insurance premiums

Life insurance companies determine the level of risk associated with an individual when calculating their life insurance premiums. Generally, the higher the risk of someone dying and thus their policy paying out to beneficiaries, the higher their premium. Because skydiving is an inherently risky sport, skydivers may automatically be placed into a higher risk category, regardless of their age or health status. Additionally, those who present too great of a risk for insurance companies — whether due to the activities they partake in or other health concerns — may even be denied coverage.

Each life insurance company has its own rating process. However, the process typically includes a medical examination and includes factors like your age, health, family medical history, lifestyle and even hobbies. This is why it can be helpful to get several quotes; each company’s premium may vary based on their rating algorithm. To find the lowest-priced option, you may want to compare quotes from several carriers.

While skydiving is likely only one aspect of your life, it’s helpful to be aware of the following ways in which it may affect your coverage.

Higher premiums

While the USPA reports a fairly low number of deaths related to skydiving each year (.51 fatalities per 100,000 jumps), the sport is still considered dangerous. Most life insurance quotes will ask questions about your hobbies. Being asked if you skydive or are planning to skydive in the near future is relatively common. If you answer “yes” to this question, you will likely be viewed as high-risk. However, this should not deter you from being truthful about the fact that you skydive. If you are a skydiver or plan to skydive within the time period specified on the application, answering “no” in an attempt to get a lower rate would be considered insurance fraud and could result in your application being denied, potentially leading to fines and criminal charges.

Denial of coverage

Listing skydiving as a hobby on a life insurance application could result in higher rates, but it could also result in an outright denial of coverage. Even the largest life insurance companies may deny coverage if you are deemed too risky to insure. Listing skydiving as a hobby alone could preclude you from coverage, but denial may also be a result of your medical exam findings or a combination of these two factors. For example, having a medical problem that increases your risk of health complications or death while skydiving, such as hypertension or diabetes, could flag you as too high of a risk to insure.

Life insurance for skydivers

Skydivers have options for life insurance just like anyone else, and may choose to apply for coverage from a variety of life insurance companies, including those that offer term life or permanent life insurance policies. Working with an agent or using a life insurance calculator might help you decide which type and how much coverage to buy.

Term life insurance

Term life insurance may be a good option for skydivers who only need coverage for a set period of their life, such as to cover financial liabilities like tuition or a mortgage. Term policies stay in effect for a predetermined number of years — typically between 10 and 30 years — and offer a death benefit to the beneficiaries if the policyholder passes within that time. If the policyholder outlives the policy’s term and doesn’t renew coverage, the policy would expire and no death benefit would be paid out.

Permanent life insurance

Unlike term life, permanent life insurance policies stay in effect for the policyholder’s entire life, as long as premiums are paid. Additionally, permanent life insurance usually has the added benefit of a cash value component that you can borrow against during the life of the policy once it matures, which may be appealing to skydivers who want coverage as well as an investment vehicle. Within permanent life insurance, there are several options, which include whole life and universal life policies.

Riders for skydivers

Riders, or endorsements, are policy add-ons you can purchase to personalize your coverage. For a more robust skydiving insurance policy, you might consider adding the following to your life insurance policy:

  • Accidental death and dismemberment (AD&D): AD&D provides compensation for certain accidents that result in death or the physical or functional loss of body parts (as outlined by the insurer). If you have accidental death insurance and skydiving is a covered event, your beneficiary would receive the death benefit if you pass away from a skydiving accident.
  • Waiver of premium rider: A life insurance premium for a skydiver may be on the higher side, which could be difficult to upkeep especially in the event of physical hardship. With a waiver of premium rider, the insured may be exempt from making premium payments if they become disabled and lose their income. Disability qualifications will vary from provider to provider, and it is important to check with your provider before purchasing.
  • Family income benefit rider: This may be particularly useful for skydivers with a family to provide for. In the event of the insured’s death, this rider would provide income to the beneficiaries for a set number of years. Typically, the amount will be equal to the insured’s monthly income.
  • Return of premium rider: This rider will refund you your life insurance premiums at the end of your policy term. A return of premium rider is one of the more expensive ones you can purchase, but could still be beneficial for skydivers with term life insurance policies.

What happens if I lie about skydiving on my life insurance application?

Lying on your life insurance application is illegal and could lead to several consequences. Lying about your skydiving hobby to an insurance company could result in your application being denied, your coverage being rescinded (if your policy is already in place when your lie is discovered, especially during the contestability period) and charges of life insurance fraud. Additionally, if you were to die from a skydiving accident and you did not disclose your skydiving hobby to your life insurance company, your beneficiaries may not be entitled to the full face value of your death benefit. Being honest on your application can help ensure a smooth application process and death benefit payout.

Frequently asked questions

    • If you think you will be going skydiving during your life insurance coverage period, you should still report skydiving on your application as a hobby. You can explain to your underwriter the frequency of your skydiving hobby since each life insurance company has its own rules and policy guidelines. Being honest about your lifestyle on your insurance application is always the best course of action.
    • If you already have a life insurance policy in place when you decide to go skydiving, you might have coverage if anything goes wrong, as long as you were truthful on the application. Contact your life insurance company to let them know of your plans and talk to a representative to see if your coverage would extend if the worst happens.
    • The USPA reported 20 skydiving deaths in 2022, 10 in 2021 and 11 in 2020. The highest number of reported deaths since 2000 was 35 in 2001. Considering the number of skydivers in the U.S. each year is between 2.5 and 3.9 million, the death rate is quite low. However, as you might expect, jumping out of a plane still makes you a higher risk to insurance companies, regardless of the low fatality rate.
    • To determine how much life insurance you need, you’ll first want to consider how much income you’d need to replace if you passed. You can do this by multiplying your salary by the number of years you want coverage for. You’ll also need to factor in your debts and current and future financial obligations. A life insurance calculator can be a helpful tool in determining your coverage needs. With a better idea of your financial needs in mind, you can speak with a licensed life insurance agent or financial advisor to choose the right policy for you.