If you’re a police officer, you’re well aware that you’re in a high-risk occupation. Every shift can be dangerous, carrying with it the possibility that you might be seriously injured, or even worse, never make it home.
Jump ahead to these sections:
- What Is Life Insurance for Police Officers?
- What Options Do Police Officers Typically Have for Life Insurance?
- Should a Police Officer Buy a Policy Through Their Work, a Private Company, Neither, or Both?
- How to Shop for a Life Insurance Policy if You’re a Police Officer
- Frequently Asked Questions: Buying Life Insurance for Police Officers
You’re also aware of how the danger involved with your career makes it imperative that you take the steps necessary to protect your loved ones financially if the unthinkable happens, and that they have the monetary resources to continue their lives comfortably.
Many police officers initially believe that most life insurance companies won’t issue policies to officers, but that’s not accurate. Life insurance companies understand the risks involved in law enforcement, and most companies actively solicit the business of police officers.
This article will look at life insurance for police officers: the different types available, getting coverage at work or on your own, shopping for a personal life insurance policy if you’re a police officer, and more.
What Is Life Insurance for Police Officers?
If you’re a police officer looking for life insurance, the good news is that there is no shortage of life insurance companies that will sell you a policy, and usually at a standard rate. Life insurers typically do not charge police officers extra premiums because of their occupation.
Like every other civilian purchasing life insurance, police officers will find they have access to all types of policies, including the three most popular: whole life, term life, and no-medical-exam life insurance. Let’s take a brief look at each.
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Term life insurance
Term life insurance is the least expensive type of coverage you can buy since it only covers you for a predetermined period of time, such as 5, 10, 20, or 30 years. It strictly provides a death benefit to your beneficiary if you die during the policy term, and most term life policies come with an option to convert the term insurance protection to permanent insurance once the agreed-upon term expires. For police officers and other civilians, term life is the most recommended type of policy to purchase.
Though term insurance is generally less expensive than other life insurance types, it does have a significant drawback for police officers. The drawback is that if the policy’s term expires and the officer is still alive, they may not be able to qualify for another term policy if they’ve experienced any health complications or injuries caused by their occupation, or otherwise.
Some term policies carry a guaranteed insurability option to convert the policy into permanent life insurance that won’t expire. It’s best to consult with a life insurance agent who can help you find this type of policy and help you determine how much life insurance you need.
Whole life insurance
Alternatively, whole life insurance for police officers can be much more expensive than term insurance, but it has three advantages.
- Value: Whole life insurance builds cash value. A percentage of every dollar you pay in premiums is deposited into the cash value component of a whole life policy. The cash value is credited interest regularly, and dividends paid by the insurer can also be added, depending upon the company's profitability in a given year. Over time, a whole life policy’s cash value can grow substantially and can be an excellent supplement to a police officer’s retirement plan.
- No expiration: Whole life insurance doesn’t expire. Unlike term life insurance, you can keep your whole life policy for as long as you live and pay your premiums on time.
- Stable premiums: Premiums never increase. Regardless of how long you live or how the condition of your health changes, your premiums will always remain the same with a whole life policy.
Finally, no-medical-exam life insurance is a third option available and is perfect for a police officer who can’t qualify medically for term or whole life insurance. They are the most expensive policies on the market because the life insurance company assumes a large amount of risk by not requiring you to undergo a medical examination.
These policies typically provide a limited death benefit amount ($2,000 to $25,000), though a few insurers will offer face amounts as high as $50,000. They also have a “graded death benefit,” meaning that your beneficiary will only receive a partial payment of the death benefit if you die due to a non-accident during the policies’ first two or three years.
For example, if you bought a no-medical-exam life insurance policy and died during the first year you owned the policy while being killed in the line of duty or any other reason, your family could receive only the premiums you paid, plus interest. How long it takes to get a life insurance payout will depend on the company that issued the policy.
Some life insurance companies may charge you a higher rate than their standard rates because of your department, and if they consider your particular duties to be “high-risk.” To evaluate your risk level, they may ask you:
- Do you carry a firearm?
- Do you go into the field often, or do you primarily perform administrative duties?
- What safety measures do you take?
- Do you handle mainly felony or misdemeanor cases?
- Which department are you part of? SWAT? Traffic?
Because different life insurance companies underwrite and rate policies for police officers differently, consider using an independent life insurance agent to help you find the best policy. A knowledgeable agent can save you both time and money.
What Options Do Police Officers Typically Have for Life Insurance?
Like most other civilian employees, police officers may be offered group life insurance where they work, or they can buy it as an individual from a private life insurance company.
In addition, if an officer is a veteran, they may also purchase life insurance through the Veterans Administration (VA). It’s important to note that law enforcement options have more options than they might initially think when it comes to coverage.
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Should a Police Officer Buy a Policy Through Their Work, a Private Company, Neither, or Both?
If, as a police officer, you have the opportunity to buy a policy through work, you should take advantage of that first and foremost. This is because group life insurance rates can be favorable, and your employer may pay part or all of your premiums.
However, be aware that employer-sponsored life insurance has several drawbacks. First, the death benefit of a police officer’s group policy is usually limited to a multiple of the officer’s salary, which in most cases is not enough to replace your salary for more than a few years. And, your family may receive a lower payout if you are not killed in the line of duty.
Also, employer-sponsored life insurance is usually not portable. This means that when you retire or leave the force, your coverage will not come with you and it can’t be converted into a personal policy.
A personal policy purchased through a private insurer is something every police officer who has someone financially dependent on them should own. Because employer-sponsored life insurance doesn’t provide a sufficient death benefit for most police officers, they should have an individual life insurance policy and have any life insurance available through work strictly be a supplement to that policy.
Instead of just using a multiple of your annual salary to determine the death benefit, an agent will often consider your financial obligations, such as:
- Your survivor’s annual living expenses
- Your mortgage balance
- Personal debt
- The cost of college tuition for your children
- Estimated contributions needed for your spouse’s retirement fund
- The estimated cost of your final expenses, including funeral and burial costs
By gathering this information and evaluating your overall financial picture, your insurance advisor will help you more precisely determine what your family’s financial needs are. They'll also help determine what your life insurance policy’s death benefit should be, which is usually much higher than just using a multiple of your annual salary.
How to Shop for a Life Insurance Policy if You’re a Police Officer
Although there are many online resources provided by life insurance companies that will give you a choice of different policies and quote you rates, buying a life insurance policy online as a police officer can be a bit more complex than it is for people with other occupations.
As a police officer, your best strategy for buying life insurance may be seeking coverage through an independent life insurance agent who has experience helping law enforcement officers and other first responders. As previously mentioned, independent agents usually represent many different life insurance companies and can compare policies to get you the most favorable rating from a highly-rated insurer.
In some cases, particularly if your assignment is higher risk, like being a SWAT team member, the agent may have you apply with more than one company and see what rates they come back with. Even if an insurance company approves your application, you aren’t obligated to accept the policy.
Frequently Asked Questions: Buying Life Insurance for Police Officers
Police officers, like other first responders, often have the misconception that they can’t buy an individual life insurance policy unless the insurer specializes in insuring people in high-risk obligations. Fortunately, this isn’t accurate. Police officers are afforded the same opportunity to buy life insurance as everyone else.
Officers also often have other questions about life insurance like these below.
Where can retired police officers find life insurance?
Like active-duty police officers, retired police officers can also find life insurance available through private insurers. In some cases, a former officer may find that they can now buy a policy without paying a higher than standard rate.
Can disabled police officers buy a life insurance policy?
Disabled police officers may or may not qualify for a life insurance policy; it will depend on their individual situation. Life insurance companies evaluate each person’s risk factors individually; the length of time the officer has been disabled, the severity of that disability, and the long-term prognosis will be factors in a life insurance underwriter’s decision whether or not to issue the policy.
Why is life insurance for police officers important?
As a police officer, your life is constantly at risk while protecting citizens. Routine situations can become dangerous at a moment’s notice. In addition to protecting the general public, a police officer often has a family to protect financially because of the dangers they face.
But, police officers are not only at risk because they’re armed and may confront someone else carrying a weapon. Police officers also face other dangers, including:
- Traffic accidents: Police officers spend much of their time on busy highways or city streets. They are constantly exposed to heavy traffic, careless drivers, and sometimes end up pursuing someone who is fleeing from the law.
- Careless shootings: Officer-involved shootings don’t always involve criminals. Police officers are sometimes shot by mishandling their firearm or by a fellow officer who carelessly handled their own service weapon.
- Acting as a first responder: being a first responder of any kind is dangerous, including being a police officer. Responding to a robbery, domestic dispute, or other types of crime puts an officer at risk.
Take Care of Yourself
While your occupation can play a role in your insurability and rates, it’s not the only thing that life insurers look at. They also look at your medical history and your lifestyle. Maintaining good health through a healthy diet, not using tobacco products, and having regular check-ups can help you earn a lower rate.
It’s important to put your safety, health, and wellness first. This is also true when it comes to providing for your family.