High-Risk Life Insurance

Compare life insurance offers through Savvy and see if you can be covered as a high-risk individual.

Written by 
Savvy Editorial Team
Savvy's content writing team are professionals with a wide and diverse range of industry experience and topic knowledge. We write across a broad spectrum of finance-related topics to provide our readers with informative resources to help them learn more about a certain area or enable them to decide on which product is best for their needs with careful comparison. Meet the team behind the operation here. Visit our authors page to meet Savvy's expert writing team, committed to delivering informative and engaging content to help you make informed financial decisions.
Our authors
, updated on July 19th, 2023       

Fact checked

At Savvy, we are committed to providing accurate information. Our content undergoes a rigorous process of fact-checking before it is published. Learn more about our editorial policy.

Life Insurance

We’ve partnered with Compare Club to bring you a range of life insurance policies to help you compare them side by side.

Life insurance is a policy with premiums and coverage based almost entirely on risk. As such, if you’re considered a high-risk individual, it’s important to be able to access the coverage you need for yourself and your family in case something does go wrong.

You can find out all about the jobs, activities and other lifestyle factors which life insurers deem high-risk with Savvy. From there, you can get your life insurance quote started and see whether you can qualify for coverage as a high-risk person. Get started with us today.

What factors do life insurance companies consider when determining if I’m high-risk?

When assessing your application for a life insurance policy, there’s a wide range of areas which insurers will look to as a way of gauging the level of risk you pose as an individual. Effectively, they’re looking to determine how likely you are to make a claim down the track, with higher-risk people having to pay more than those with lower risk profiles. The factors which play a role in their decision-making include:

  • Your age: those who are more senior in age are considered at a greater risk of contracting a range of illnesses compared to younger individuals seeking out cover. Because of this, insurance will typically cost more for those over 60 and 65 than for those under 30 or 40. If you're older than the maximum entry age for life insurance (which can range from 60 to 75) or don't meet all the required criteria as a senior, you may not be able to take out cover.
  • Your health: if you suffer from a pre-existing health condition which could eventually lead to further serious illness or even death, insurers will either increase the cost of your premiums to compensate for this risk, approve coverage with exclusions for your pre-existing condition or deny you coverage if it's too much of a risk.
  • Your occupation: certain occupations will pose a greater threat of causing injury or illness than others, such as jobs with exposure to hazardous materials compared to office-based positions.
  • Your lifestyle: if you’re someone who enjoys high-risk hobbies and thrill-seeking, you could find that you end up paying more for your life insurance to compensate for the increased risk of injury or death which comes with them (or receive coverage with specific exclusions).
  • Your smoking status: smoking presents an increased risk of being diagnosed with serious illnesses such as cancer, so it’ll increase the level of risk your insurer deems you to be at.

It's important to note that you aren't guaranteed coverage when applying for life insurance. As outlined in some of the points above, being considered a sufficiently high risk could result in your coverage being denied. That's why it's important to compare your options to see whether there are any insurers who can offer the cover you're looking for, which you can do through Savvy.

Which occupations are considered high-risk by life insurers?

There are many occupations which will be considered high-risk by insurers. As mentioned, they’ll primarily consist of those which pose a threat to your physical health, either by causing major physical injury or critical illness down the track. These can include the following occupations:

  • Emergency workers who are required to act in dangerous situations, such as police officers and firefighters
  • Workers on a construction site or any others responsible for operating machinery or lifting heavy materials
  • Workers in the defence force or other occupations which require you to be in an area of war
  • Those who work with guns and other firearms and explosives
  • Miners, window cleaners or anyone working at high altitudes or underground
  • Doctors and medical professionals who are exposed to disease
  • Occupations in which you're constantly on the road, such as truck drivers

Which activities are likely to increase my level of risk for life insurance?

Another area which can cause your premiums to be increased is your listed hobbies. Daredevils and others who like to partake in certain other activities will likely see themselves branded as high-risk by life insurance companies and have to pay more to receive the coverage they need. Some of the activities which may fall under this category include:

  • Scuba, deep sea and cave diving
  • Skydiving
  • Racing in almost any form, primarily car, motorcycle or boat racing
  • Aviation, either flying a non-commercial plane or helicopter
  • Rock climbing or free climbing outdoors
  • Other extreme sports like white-water rafting, bungee jumping, abseiling, martial arts and more

It's important to note that each insurer will have its own set of activities which it deems high-risk, so you should check with your provider if you're unsure about whether your hobbies will expose you to a higher premium or affect your eligibility for life insruance.

Which pre-existing health conditions are considered high-risk by life insurance companies?

Any number of health conditions can increase the level of risk you face of falling ill or passing away in the eyes of your life insurance company. It’s important to be aware of how your condition can raise your risk profile, with each of the following having an impact:

  • Cancer
  • Heart diseases or other conditions
  • Mental illness
  • Liver and kidney diseases
  • Prior history of strokes
  • High cholesterol and blood pressure

This list isn't an exhaustive one, with insurers generally having a wide range of conditions which they do and don't cover. Additionally, as mentioned, those who are overweight or obese will likely have to pay more in terms of premiums because of their greater risk of contracting an illness down the track. This may be the case even if you don’t currently suffer from any health conditions.

If you do currently have a health condition which could impact your life insurance, you may be required to undertake a medical exam so your insurer can obtain more information about you. However, in some cases, a medical may not be required, though you may not be able to access as much coverage if you don’t complete one. If your condition is deemed to be serious enough, you may be denied coverage or subject to exclusions on your policy.

Types of life insurance

Why compare life insurance through Savvy?

Common questions about life insurance for high-risk people

If I’ve previously been a high-risk individual but have changed my lifestyle, will I be able to access cheaper life insurance?

Just because you’ve been deemed high-risk by life insurers in the past doesn’t mean you can’t be downgraded in the future. Some of the ways you can do this include the following:

  • Changing jobs and moving into a lower-risk profession, such as a desk job from a worksite role
  • Quitting smoking
  • Losing weight and lowering your blood pressure
  • Showing that conditions you may have had previously are no longer an issue, such as not having received treatment for them in over five years
  • Giving away your high-risk hobbies
Can I access life insurance through a group policy if I’m considered high-risk?

Group life insurance may be a way for individuals to access life insurance if their life circumstances mean that they’re deemed high-risk. This type of coverage can come about through your employer, a union or organisation you’re a member of or simply by opting into automatic coverage through your super.

This is because default coverage is usually offered, meaning it's based on assumptions of the group of lives assured, rather than each one individually. However, this type of insurance may offer less coverage and is still likely to come with exclusions, so it’s important to compare your options to see whether it's the best source of coverage for you.

Will I pay more for couples’ life insurance if my partner is high-risk?

Yes – joint life insurance policies are calculated based on the combined risk of the two policyholders. This means that even if you have a spotless profile and pose a low risk to your insurer, you’ll likely still pay more if your partner is assessed as a high risk. Buying separate policies would allow you to sidestep the premium bump you may experience when buying with your partner if they're a high-risk individual.

Will I need more coverage if I’m in a high-risk profession?

The amount of cover you need will depend entirely on your personal circumstances and that of your family. For instance, if your partner is earning enough to support your bills and can also call upon your savings and super if you were to pass away, become permanently disabled or fall critically ill, you may not need as much cover even if you’re in a high-risk occupation.

Helpful life insurance guides

Life Insurance Banner - Woman sitting on the couch on her laptop with her dog

Life Insurance Surrender Value

Find out what surrender values are and what your alternatives in Australia are today with Savvy. Life insurance policies with...

Life Insurance Banner - Senior couple having a barbeque with their children

Life Insurance Beneficiaries

Find out who can get your life insurance payout and the rules around beneficiaries with Savvy. Choosing the beneficiaries of...

Life Insurance Banner - Young couple looking at different types of life insurance on a tablet

Types of Life Insurance

Find out more about the different types of policies available in Australia with Savvy today. Compare quotes now Instant quotes...

Life Insurance Banner - A woman holding flowers placing her hand on a coffin at a funeral

Life Insurance Claims

Want to find out how to make a life insurance claim? Learn about the process with Savvy today. Understanding how...

Life insurance by your condition & profile

Compare life insurance options aligned to your medical condition and profile and receive no-obligation quotes from some of Australia's leading insurers.


Savvy is partnered with Compare Club Australia Pty Ltd (AFS representative number 001279036) of Alternative Media Pty Ltd (AFS License number 486326) to provide readers with a variety of life insurance policies to compare. Savvy earns a commission from Compare Club each time a customer buys a life insurance policy via our website. We don’t arrange for products to be purchased from these brands directly, as all purchases are conducted via Compare Club.

Savvy does not compare all life insurance policies or providers currently operating in the market. Any advice presented above or on other pages is general in nature and doesn’t consider your personal or business objectives, needs or finances. It’s always important to consider whether advice is suitable for you before purchasing an insurance policy.

For any further information on the variety of insurers compared by Compare Club or how their business works, you can read their Financial Services Guide.