As a first responder, you’re one of our community’s first lines of defense when disaster strikes. From fires to crime scenes and medical emergencies, first responders are essential to our communities.

While first responders are trained to think about the needs of others as soon as they step onto the scene of an emergency, they often forget to care for themselves and put safeguards in place to protect their loved ones in the event of a loss. Due to the dangerous nature of the job, every first responder should at least consider a life insurance policy, especially if their death would cause family members or other loved ones to struggle financially if they died.

Life insurance can offer protection and the peace of mind that comes with knowing your loved ones will be financially protected should the unthinkable occur. Read on to learn more about life insurance for first responders, as well as how to get covered.

What is life insurance?

No one wants to think about the possibility that they might not always be around to take care of their families’ financial futures. This might be an especially pressing concern for first responders, who put their lives on the line on a regular basis.

Life insurance is a contract between an individual (the policyholder) and an insurer, where the insurer agrees to pay a specified amount of money (the death benefit) to the policyholder’s beneficiaries upon the policyholder’s death. In exchange for this benefit, the policyholder pays premiums to the insurance company, usually once a month, in order to keep coverage current.

There are two main types of life insurance:

  1. Term life insurance provides coverage for a specific period of time, such as 10, 20, or 30 years, and typically has lower premiums than permanent life insurance.
  2. Permanent life insurance (including whole life insurance) provides coverage for the policyholder’s entire life, and typically includes a cash value component that can accumulate over time.

Term life insurance is typically significantly more affordable.

The term component also allows first responders to choose a term length that aligns with their career plans. Because many people choose life insurance coverage to provide money to their families during the years when they would normally be drawing a salary, and when family members (such as kids) depend on them to pay for things, a term life policy often makes sense.

For example, if you’re a 35-year-old police officer and you plan to retire at age 65, you might want to choose a policy with a 30-year term to ensure your family is protected until you enter your golden years. This might also cover the years until your mortgage is paid off, or when you expect your children to become financially independent.

Benefits life insurance offers first responders

Life insurance can provide significant benefits to first responders, whose work comes with an inherent level of risk. The following are just a few of the most important benefits that a comprehensive life insurance policy can offer.

Financial security for loved ones. If a first responder were to die — in the line of duty or outside of it — life insurance can provide financial support to their loved ones, in the form of a lump sum payment called a death benefit. This money is typically tax-free, and your beneficiaries can spend the death benefit how they choose without restrictions — from short-term costs like funeral expenses to long-term expenditures like paying off a mortgage or college tuition.

Coverage for work-related deaths. One pro of life insurance is that it covers just about every type of death, including accidental deaths incurred on the job. This provides peace of mind, because you know that if anything were to happen to you, at work or elsewhere, your loved ones would receive money to pay for the things you normally would cover.

Something else to consider: Some life insurance policies include the option of adding accidental death and dismemberment coverage. The advantage of this type of insurance is that it covers non-fatal accidents incurred on the job; the disadvantage is that it does not provide coverage if you die from something that is not job related.

For someone in a high-risk career, it’s worth considering having both AD&D insurance and life insurance. (Note that Haven Life currently only offers life insurance coverage, but you can purchase AD&D coverage from another insurer separately.)

Be sure to review the terms of any life insurance policy before deciding whether to buy coverage, as some policies might specify that specific work-related injuries do not qualify your beneficiaries to receive the death benefit. For example, many life insurance policies stipulate that if you die during an act of terrorism or war, your beneficiaries will not be paid following your death.

Employer-provided coverage and low rates. Many first responders receive life insurance coverage as part of their employee benefits package. That said, for many people, group life insurance coverage provided by an employer is not enough. A common rule of thumb is that you should have a policy worth 5 to 10 years your annual salary, which is often more than you can receive through work.

Another consideration is that your employer-offered policy might not be portable — that is, if you were to leave your job, you would leave your coverage as well.

Because of this, it might be a good idea to see whether a supplemental life insurance policy can help make up the difference in coverage that you should have in place.

How can first responders lower the cost of life insurance?

First responders typically work in high-risk occupations, which can make it more difficult and expensive to obtain life insurance coverage. However, there are several steps first responders can take to potentially lower the cost of their premiums when purchasing life insurance.

  • Maintain a healthy lifestyle: Exercising regularly, eating a healthy diet, and avoiding risky behaviors like smoking and excessive alcohol consumption can help lower the risk of health problems that can increase the cost of life insurance premiums.
  • Choose a term life policy: Term life insurance policies are typically less expensive than permanent policies because they provide coverage for a set period of time, usually 10 to 30 years.
  • Only buy the amount of coverage you need: While it’s tempting to buy the highest-value policy you can afford, there is such a thing as having too much life insurance. Use the life insurance rule of thumb (5 to 10 times your annual salary), or use a free online life insurance calculator to determine your coverage needs.
  • Avoid risky hobbies: Engaging in risky hobbies, such as skydiving or bungee jumping, can increase the cost of life insurance premiums. If possible, avoid these activities to help lower your premiums.

Working in law enforcement, or as firefighters and first responders, brings unique challenges, stresses and joys. But in one significant way, first responders are like anyone else: If you have people who depend on you financially, you should consider life insurance.

Find out what coverage from Haven Life would cost by getting a free online life insurance quote today.

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