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Life insurance companies award applicants who take few risks with low life insurance premiums. If you have a risky job or hobby, you may be required to pay higher premiums to get life insurance coverage.

If you’re a pilot, you may be wondering how flying a plane can affect buying life insurance. Everyone’s case is different. Most pilots will be able to get life insurance coverage.

» Compare: Term life insurance quotes for pilots

Aviation and Life Insurance

In past years, the life insurance industry would require most pilots to include an aviation exclusion with their life insurance policy. Essentially, this clause stated that the life insurance company would not have to pay the death benefit if the individual died from an aviation-related death.

After closely examining historical data, many insurers dropped that exclusion. Insurance companies have found pilots to be pretty good risks after all. They tend to be better educated, earn higher incomes, and are generally in better health than most Americans.

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Life Insurance for Pilots

Whether you fly private single-engine planes or large commercial planes, you shouldn’t have too much of an issue getting coverage as long as other factors are positive such as your health and family history.

The two different aviation types are viewed differently in the world of life insurance, however. Let’s take a look at them.

Life Insurance for a Private Pilot

When compared to commercial pilots, private pilots carry a slightly higher risk. Life insurance underwriters will want to know:

  • Type of aircraft flown
  • Purpose of flights
  • Number of flying hours per year
  • Type of license held
  • Pilot’s experience

Life insurance risk factors are determined by actuarial science. Research and statistics show that private pilots who fly more than 200 hours per year may present a significantly increased accident risk as a result of increased exposure, but pilots who fly less than 30 hours per year also present a significant risk due to their relative inexperience.

If a private pilot has additional adverse risk factors, such as an aviation violation or history of epilepsy, life insurance carriers may require the aforementioned aviation exclusion rider.

Life insurance underwriters will evaluate all aspects of an individual’s application and determine their risk class based on a number of factors. The risk class the applicant is assigned to will determine what his or her life insurance premium payments will be.

The best possible risk class is Preferred Plus (see table below). With pilots, it’s also possible that they would be assigned a flat extra. A flat extra is an extra payment life insurance carriers can add on top of premiums to cushion their risk. These flat extras can last the entire policy term or just a few years, depending on the situation.

Risk Classes
For Non-Tobacco Users For Tobacco Users
Preferred Plus Preferred Tobacco
Standard Plus Standard Tobacco
Table Ratings (Substandard)

Let’s take a look at an example.

John Doe is a healthy 35-year-old private pilot with no accidents or violations. He expects to fly an estimated 250 solo hours annually. He applies for a 20-year $500,000 term policy.

He is approved at Preferred but the life insurance company is requiring a flat extra of $2.50 per thousand for two years. Here’s what that means:

For the first two years of his policy’s life, he will be required to pay an extra $1,250 (2.50 x 500) each year. So, if the annual premium payment for his Preferred policy is $306, he pays a total of $1,556 for each of those two years (roughly about $130 per month).

Starting in the third year, John’s flat extra drops off and his annual premium payment decreases to $306 (about $26 per month).

Life Insurance for a Commercial Pilot

Pilots of civil air carriers of major airlines of the U.S. have the most favorable underwriting among pilots. The reason why is because even though these planes are more complex, these airlines have to follow the strictest set of rules governed by the Federal Aviation Administration. Pilots of such aircraft have a fatal accident rate that is 35 times more favorable than all types of pleasure flying combined.

Being approved for Preferred Plus as a commercial pilot is definitely not out of the question.

Applying for Life Insurance as a Pilot

No two life insurance companies underwrite exactly the same. While John Doe was offered Preferred with a flat extra for two years, another life insurance company may have wanted him to pay the flat extra for five years (a difference of $4,668).

Life insurance carriers are continually reviewing and updating their underwriting guidelines. Some carriers view certain factors more favorably than other carriers because of their own history of death claims in that area. Aviation is one of these niches.

A benefit to working with Quotacy is that we are an independent broker, which means we have contracts with multiple life insurance companies. We have the ability to shop around to these different carriers in order to get you the best possible outcome. If you’re a pilot and ready to get life insurance, start by getting a free term life insurance quote today.


Note: Life insurance quotes used in this article are accurate as of February 14, 2022. These are only estimates and your life insurance cost may be higher or lower.

About the writer

Headshot of Natasha Cornelius, a life insurance writer, for Quotacy, Inc.

Natasha Cornelius, CLU

Senior Editor and Licensed Life Insurance Expert

Natasha Cornelius, CLU, is a writer, editor, and life insurance researcher for Quotacy.com where her goal is to make life insurance more transparent and easier to understand. She has been in the life insurance industry since 2010 and has been writing about life insurance since 2014. Natasha earned her Chartered Life Underwriter designation in 2022. She is also co-host of Quotacy’s YouTube series. Connect with her on LinkedIn.