Whether your kids are out of school or you just want a break from work, the summer is a popular time for vacations in sunny destinations, such as Hawaii and Florida.
But if you're the type of person who regularly likes to spice up travel with exciting—and potentially dangerous—activities, you might not realize that partaking in "extreme sports" can actually invalidate your life insurance if not disclosed. So the policy you purchased to protect your family may not be there if you die while participating in such activities.
Relatively few people actually pass away while participating in adventurous hobbies—travel companies would be unlikely to offer them otherwise—which is why insurers generally won't mind if you try a sport once. However, you are still at a higher risk for accidents and severe injuries than you would be lounging by the pool. So if you consistently participate in these activities, whether as part of an annual family trip or as a weekend hobby, you'll need to disclose it to your life insurer when you buy a policy, and you'll typically pay higher rates.
Before you hop on the plane, here are four summer activities that could make it more expensive or difficult to obtain coverage, even though you might consider them quite safe.
Hot Air Ballooning
Riding in a hot air balloon is not what most people would call a high-risk activity—in fact, there have only been about 70 fatal hot air balloon incidents since 1964. However, life insurers still commonly ask whether you ride in hot air balloons, and not disclosing this as a hobby can impact whether your coverage applies in the event of a fatal accident.
Scuba diving is a popular vacation activity that can even be shared with children, but serious scuba enthusiasts will likely face higher life insurance premiums. If you dive less than 100 feet, always use the buddy system and have formal training, the impact might be relatively small. But that can change if you have a history of medical issues or a family history of cardiac events, as health problems increase the likelihood of underwater accidents. If you're looking for permanent coverage, which already comes with higher rates, you may want to reconsider your policy choice.
Boating and Fishing
Whether you spend your vacation darting around on a speed boat or prefer to quietly fish, your insurer is likely to care about how much time you spend on the boat. The dangers of boating are quite clear: If an accident occurs while you're on the water, you may not be able to get to assistance. Even if you can, professional medical care is typically not readily available.
Whitewater Rafting and Kayaking
If you've spent time on the rapids, particularly Class IV and above, you've likely experienced or seen the risks insurers are concerned about. Even while wearing a helmet, you can easily harm yourself on the rocks if you fall out of a boat or kayak. And if you're dragged underwater, you may not have air for an extended period of time, even if you're rafting with others who try to assist.
Of course, if your annual family vacations typically involve paddling down a Class I or Class II river, such as sections of the Colorado River, your life insurance price impact will likely be low.
What About Motorcycle Riding?
For many motorcycle riders, summer is the time to break out the bike and go on weekend trips or extended road trips. And you might think your passion would lead to increased life insurance rates, but this is a common myth. So long as you're a safe rider with no history of speeding or accidents, most insurers don't care if you're riding a motorcycle or driving a car.
A poor driving history, however, may impact your life insurance rates. Insurers commonly pull your driving record when you apply for coverage, and negative marks will count against you. So feel free to enjoy a long trip on your bike this summer—just remember to bring the helmet, wear all recommended protective gear, follow all laws and be a cautious rider.
Maxime Rieman is Product Manager at ValuePenguin. Educating and assisting shoppers about financial products has been Rieman's focus, which led her to joining ValuePenguin, a consumer research and advice company based in New York. Previously, she was product marketing director at CoverWallet and launched the personal insurance team at NerdWallet.
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