Life Insurance for High Risk Occupations in Canada

Your profession plays a pivotal role in qualifying for life insurance for occupations in Canada. While most occupations in Canada readily get coverage, jobs with more significant hazards may face additional underwriting scrutiny. 

However, Canadians in nearly any career can obtain the protection their families need through proper planning. This comprehensive guide examines how various occupations impact insurability and strategies for securing affordable coverage.

High-Risk Careers May Limit Insurance Access

High-Risk Careers May Limit Insurance Access

Life insurance companies classify certain professions as high risk based on data showing increased likelihoods of accidental injury, occupational illness, disability, or premature death.

According to the Association of Workers’ Compensation Boards of Canada, the occupational groups with the highest Canadian work-related fatality rates include [1]:

OccupationFatal Injury Rate per 100,000 Workers
Agriculture and related service industries14.4
Logging and forestry10.4
Fishing, trapping and hunting8.9
Mining and quarrying including oil/gas field6.8
Construction trades6.7

Public safety personnel also have elevated mortality rates from workplace violence, chronic illnesses, and stress [2].

For hazardous vocations, life insurance applications may face the following:

  • Premium increases of 25-100% or more versus standard rates
  • Lower maximum coverage amounts due to higher perceived claims risks
  • Exclusions for certain causes of death related to occupational hazards
  • Availability is limited only to accidental death or similar limited benefit policies

However, coverage remains feasible for virtually all careers through proper carrier selection and optimizing health and lifestyle factors during underwriting.

Key Occupations Facing Life Insurance Challenges


Your specific duties, workplace environment, safety protocols, and equipment are factors that are heavily influenced by pricing and insurability. Here are some of the top careers that require extra diligence when applying for life insurance in Canada:

Merchant Marine Workers

Merchant marine workers face harsh conditions like severe storms, icy deck surfaces, demanding schedules, and isolation that increase risks. Being in remote locations offshore often makes access to medical care difficult in the event of an injury or illness.

When applying for life insurance, underwriters will investigate the specifics of the applicant’s role, including the typical routes, the type of vessels worked on, rest protocols, safety training, and protective gear used.

Relevant Policy Options:

      • Accidental Death Insurance – Provides a payout if death occurs due to a covered accident. Useful for extreme risks.

      • Term Life Insurance – Provides affordable death benefit protection for a set period of 10, 20 or 30 years.

      • Simplified Issue Policies – Offers coverage without extensive medical underwriting up to coverage limits.

    Recommended Companies:

    Manulife life insuranceSun Life, and Canada Life offer customized term life and accidental death policies for marine industry workers. Canada Protection Plan has simplified issue plans available.

    Tree Surgeons and Arborists

    Tree surgeons and arborists face daily hazards like falling debris, equipment risks from chainsaws and wood chippers, electrocution from power lines, and environmental dangers from weather, wild animals, and insects.

    Applicants must verify they follow safety regulations, including proper harnesses, helmets, and face shields, as well as avoiding power line proximity and safe operating procedures.

    Relevant Policy Options:

        • Accidental Death Insurance – Pays out if death is due to a covered accident. Limited exclusions.

        • Guaranteed Issue Life Insurance – Offers simplified approval with limited underwriting and face amounts.

      Recommended Companies:

      Wawanesa Life and Foresters Financial offer accidental death and guaranteed issue plans suited for arborists and tree surgeons.

      Self-Employed Professionals

      For self-employed individuals like contractors, consultants, agents, and entrepreneurs, income often fluctuates, and underwriters require detailed financial verification. Lacking employee benefits like group life insurance also necessitates carrying adequate personal coverage.

      Relevant Policy Options:

          • 10 or 20-Year Term Life Insurance – Provides affordable death benefit protection for a set period.

          • Permanent Individual Life Insurance – Offers lifelong coverage and cash value savings.

        Recommended Companies:

        ia Life InsuranceWawanesa Life InsuranceSSQ life insurance, and iA Financial offer customized permanent and multi-year term life insurance plans with premium options to fit self-employed needs.


        Teachers face strains like chronic vocal damage that can threaten occupational disability from permanent voice loss. Coverage coordination with provincial pension plans is also an important consideration.

        Relevant Policy Options:

            • Longer Duration Term Life Insurance – Provides coverage for 20 or 30 years to match career span.

            • Waiver of Premium Disability Rider – Waives life premiums if disabled. Helpful addition given disability risks.

          Emergency Personnel


          Firefighters have the 2nd highest work-related fatality rates among Canadian occupations. They face risks like extreme heat stress, exposure to hazardous materials, cardiac triggers from exertion, and acute injury risks. Applicants must pass stringent medical, physical, and neurological exams.

          Relevant Policy Options:

          • Accidental Death Insurance – Provides a payout if death is due to a covered accident. Useful given the high risk.
          • Guaranteed Issue – Simplified approval but lower face amounts available.

          Recommended Companies:

          Wawanesa Life and Canada Life offer accidental death policies as well as guaranteed issue plans suited to firefighters.

          Police Officers

          Police officers face higher risks of cardiac events, cancers, post-traumatic stress, and violent injuries. Screening checks fitness levels, mental health support, and de-escalation training.

          Relevant Policy Options:

          • Accidental Death Insurance – Provides a payout if an accidental death occurs.
          • 10-Year Term Life Insurance – Offers longer protected periods with guaranteed rates.

          Recommended Companies:

          SSQ and iA Financial provide accidental death and longer 10-year term life insurance policies that meet the needs of police officers.

          Underwater Divers

          Underwater divers face risks like life-support equipment failures, surfacing too rapidly, and decompression sickness (“the bends”). Respiratory risks like pneumothorax can also be deadly. Insurers check certifications, emergency protocols, and equipment maintenance.

          Relevant Policy Options:

          • Accidental Death Insurance – Pays out if an accidental diving death occurs.
          • Simplified Issue Term Life – Offers coverage with limited underwriting.

          Recommended Companies:

          Foresters Financial and Canada Protection Plan offer accidental death and simplified issue term life policies suited for divers.


          Skydiving is an extremely high risk activity, with over 200 deaths annually in the U.S. alone. Even experienced skydivers face risks from technical failures, sudden weather changes, and errors. There are very few policies available due to the danger.

          Relevant Policy Options:

          • Accidental Death Insurance – The only option most insurers will offer to cover skydiving deaths.

          Recommended Companies:

          SSQ and Canada Protection Plan offer accidental death policies that may cover skydiving. But most insurers decline applicants.

          Long-Haul Truckers

          Long-haul truckers face risks from highway collisions, the top cause of work-related deaths in Canada. Fatigue, long hours, and remote routes all contribute to crash risks. Driving records are reviewed, including violations, accidents, and safety training.

          Relevant Policy Options:

          • 10 or 20-Year Term Life Insurance – Provides longer protected periods.
          • Accidental Death Insurance – Pays out if death is due to a covered accident.

          Overall, strategic planning enables the vast majority of occupations to secure life insurance in Canada despite potential challenges.

          Strategies for Obtaining Coverage in High Risk Fields

          The following tactics can help those in hazardous vocations get insured:

          • Compare policies from a wide range of insurers, as underwriting criteria varies
          • Maintain optimal physical and mental health to partially offset risks
          • Leverage group and life insurance plans offered through employers
          • Consider “guaranteed issue” or “simplified issue” policies, which skip medical underwriting but have lower face values
          • For extreme risks, accidental death/dismemberment policies pay if death or disability occurs due to a covered accident
          • An experienced life insurance advisor can identify your best carrier options

          Being persistent and utilizing an expert broker maximizes your chances of approval at fair pricing.

          Standard Coverage for Most Life Insurance for Occupations in Canada

          If your occupation does not involve elevated exposures, obtaining affordable life insurance is typically straightforward. Here are some professions that generally qualify for preferred/standard rates:

          White-Collar Office Professionals

          Careers in business, finance, management, sales, administration, and technology rarely raise significant occupational concerns for life insurers.

          Skilled Trades

          Electricians, machinists, plumbers, welders, HVAC techs and most skilled labourers only have modestly above-average injury risks, frequently securing standard life insurance.

          Healthcare Support Roles

          Important support staff like phlebotomists, orderlies, or pharmacy technicians enable health systems to function with minimal occupational hazards.


          Doctors face occupational stress and medical malpractice risks. Licensing status, complaints, and malpractice history are reviewed. High incomes allow more coverage amounts.

          Relevant Policy Options:


              • Riders for Additional Risks – Sun Life


            Nurses face infectious disease and injury risks in frontline healthcare roles. Licensing status and complaints are disclosed.

            Relevant Policy Options:


                • 10 or 20 Year Term Life Insurance – Blue Cross, Canada Life

                • Critical Illness Insurance – SSQ

              High Net Worth Individuals

              Undergo full underwriting like all applicants. Estate planning and tax optimization are important. Assets allow higher insurance amounts.

              Relevant Policy Options:


                  • Permanent, Universal Life – Sun Life, Manulife

                Retail, Hospitality, and Food Services

                Routine customer service roles such as servers, cooks, housekeepers, cashiers, and salespeople do not limit life insurance eligibility or provide income verification.

                Students and Unemployed

                For unemployed or inconsistently employed applicants, documenting current income and validating past earnings history allows carriers to determine suitable coverage amounts.

                Optimizing Your Application for Success

                While your career is important, optimizing other controllable factors improves your application’s chances:

                • Adhere strictly to medical advice for any chronic health conditions
                • Disclose hazardous hobbies honestly
                • Maintain healthy blood pressure, cholesterol, and weight
                • Follow risk mitigation protocols for your occupation
                • Keep detailed records of income history and finances
                • Consider lifestyle changes to reduce risks where possible
                • Work with a broker to structure policies for maximum benefit

                Being transparent and controlling what you can control will earn you the best policy price and terms your particular qualifications permit.

                How High-Risk Jobs Affect Insurance Rates in Canada

                It’s crucial to understand that your occupation plays a significant role in determining your life insurance rates and coverage eligibility in Canada. High-risk jobs, in particular, often come with increased premiums and policy limitations, which can greatly affect your insurance needs and financial planning.

                According to the Association of Workers’ Compensation Boards of Canada (AWCBC), the occupations with the highest fatality rates include [1]:

                • Logging and forestry: 10.4 deaths per 100,000 workers
                • Fishing and hunting: 8.9 deaths per 100,000 workers
                • Mining, quarrying, and oil/gas extraction: 6.8 deaths per 100,000 workers
                • Construction: 6.7 deaths per 100,000 workers

                Other hazardous jobs include policing, firefighting, piloting, roofing, farming, and long-haul truck driving.

                Insurers rely on objective data, such as mortality rates, injuries, and illnesses, to categorize occupations by risk level. This means that the classification of certain roles as ‘high-risk’ or ‘ultra-hazardous’ is not arbitrary but based on real-world statistics.

                For these occupations, life insurance applicants face [2]:

                • Premium increases of 25-100%+ compared to standard rates
                • Lower maximum face amounts or caps on coverage
                • Restrictions on policy types available
                • Additional medical examinations are required

                For instance, a 35-year-old logger may pay $40 monthly for a $500,000 term life policy in an office job. However, in his hazardous occupation, he could pay $60-$80 monthly for the equivalent coverage and potentially have lower maximum benefits.

                Applicants in “preferred” occupations like finance, management, or technology will qualify for the lowest premium rates from Canadian life insurers.

                The increased costs and limitations demonstrate the value of an experienced broker who can help find affordable high-risk occupation coverage through carrier comparisons. With the proper guidance, insurance protection is accessible even in the most dangerous professions.

                Why People with High-Risk Jobs Need Life Insurance

                Canadians employed in high-risk occupations have elevated needs for life insurance protection. The inherent hazards present on the job make adequate coverage critically important.

                Replace Lost Income

                High-risk professions often provide significant wages to support families. The premature death of a breadwinner would leave a massive hole in household finances. Life insurance proceeds enable dependents to maintain their standard of living.

                Cover Final Expenses

                Funeral costs in Canada average $6,000-$12,000. Life insurance can pay these final expenses so survivors aren’t burdened. Outstanding debt like mortgages and loans can also be paid off.

                Support Dependents

                Even if a high-risk worker passes away, continued resources for daily living expenses, children’s education, healthcare needs, and more must be provided. Life insurance delivers funds to cover these recurring family expenses.

                Peace of Mind

                Being insured alleviates workers’ worries about leaving loved ones unprovided. This allows workers to focus entirely on hazardous duties with less financial stress.

                Limited Safety Nets

                Many dangerous occupations lack substantial employer benefits or pension plans if injury or death occurs. Government survivor benefits also have eligibility conditions and income caps. Life insurance offers guarantees.

                Disability Backup

                If injured on the job, life insurance payouts allow career transitioning or provide income until able to return to work. This coverage is precious, given the physical risks.

                Why Specifically Life Insurance?

                Unlike health insurance, life insurance pays out upon death when income ceases. Locking guaranteed premiums also avoids steep rises later in life when coverage needs to persist but costs escalate.

                Navigating Complexity

                An experienced broker can explain life insurance options and identify affordable high-risk occupation coverage tailored to needs. Their guidance makes getting protected possible.

                Canadians with dangerous jobs require specialized planning to secure life insurance that their families can rely on. With the right approach, adequate and affordable policies are within reach.

                Finding the Right Insurance Solutions

                With hundreds of insurers and policies in Canada, an independent broker is your best ally when navigating options. Their expertise helps:

                • Compare quotes across a multitude of carriers to identify savings
                • Guide you in optimizing your application to meet underwriting requirements
                • Coordinate coverage across group benefits, individual policies, and government plans
                • Incorporate insurance into estate planning, succession, and other financial components
                • Regularly review and update your policies as needs evolve

                This experience ensures you find affordable solutions tailored to your occupation’s risk.

                Conclusion: Coverage is Within Reach

                While some careers face obstacles, with proper support, nearly all occupations in Canada can obtain life insurance tailored to their budget and needs. A persistent approach, controlling health factors possible, finding the right carrier, and utilizing an expert advisor make coverage attainable.

                Your occupation is just one component assessed. Taking a comprehensive approach, any profession can get the protection their families require.

                Next Steps – Get a Customized Quote

                Ready to explore your life insurance options? Connect with one of LifeBuzz’s advisors for a complimentary consultation. We’ll assess your needs, identify affordable solutions, demystify the process, and simplify applying with top Canadian life insurers. Request your personalized quote today!

                Learn how your career impacts life insurance eligibility and premiums

                FAQ of Life Insurance Coverage for Your Career in Canada

                Your occupation is a key factor in determining life insurance eligibility and pricing. Jobs with higher injury, illness, stress, or mortality risks may face additional underwriting scrutiny or restrictions from insurers. However, with proper planning nearly any lawful profession can get covered.

                A detailed answer to provide information about your business, build trust with potential clients, and help convince the visitor that you are a good fit for them.

                Limited policies like guaranteed issue and accidental death insurance may be best for the riskiest professions if broad coverage is unavailable. Most careers can access term, permanent, or group life insurance.

                Office professionals, skilled trades, retail/hospitality, healthcare support staff, students, and most jobs without extreme risks qualify for preferred or standard rates from major insurers.

                Jobs with elevated dangers like first responders, forestry workers, commercial fishers, pilots, miners, oil/gas workers, roofers, truck drivers, and more may be deemed high risk. Each insurer assesses jobs differently based on specific duties.

                Strategies like maintaining optimal health, comparing many insurers using a broker, considering group employer plans, and guaranteed issue policies maximize high risk applicants’ chances of approval on fair terms.

                Beyond your career, improving health, providing full medical histories, maintaining safe practices on the job, and keeping detailed financial records will improve your application’s outlook.

                Longer-duration term life, disability riders, and coordinating with provincial pensions can provide comprehensive coverage for teacher’s specific risks and income replacement needs.

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