8 Life Insurance Risk Factors For Law Enforcement Officers
How it could change your Life Insurance Rates
What are the Risk Factors for Law Enforcement Officers?.
It is obvious that law enforcement officers face heavy risk every tour they perform. It could be the nonlaw-abiding citizens who have no respect for society. Lastly, It may be the individual who operates the vehicle under the influence. These individuals put everyone at risk by getting behind the wheel of the vehicle.
What is often overlooked is a select group of other risks. They may not be an immediate danger, but statistics show you should not take them any less seriously. These risks are more life-threatening for officers than all other risk combined. Over the course of time, they can have lasting effects and cause permanent damage. Damage to one’s health and mental state.
They can also impact a law enforcement officer’s ability to protect their own family. What are these risk factors? What issues may they cause when looking at life insurance rates? This blog will give you some insight into these questions and how to handle them.
Most importantly, you should gain knowledge on how to navigate your life insurance purchase.
Risk Factors for Law Enforcement Officers #1
Everyone can admit law enforcement professionals face some form of stress on a typical night’s work. What most do not take into consideration is how they deal with this stress.
Let’s look at a study from 2010.
11% of male law enforcement officers and 16% of female officers consumed alcohol to a level which deems them high risk.
Let’s think about this for a second. This is back in 2010. Law enforcement professionals have only been dealing with higher levels of stress since the Ferguson case back in 2012. Law enforcement officers are the center of social media and digital recordings. They are on constant watch by the media and public. It is becoming tough to even perform the basic job functions.
At least without a lingering fear of losing one’s job and livelihood. I am not justifying the use of alcohol under these circumstances. I am pointing out that trends most likely say that this will continue to rise. Alcohol abuse can leave lasting effects mentally and physically. This will hinder the ability to get life insurance in the future.
The mere fact you are drinking alcohol to a certain degree could hinder the ability to buy life insurance. This is not including some of the lasting damage it could cause. Serious health issues that alcohol could cause could be many issues. Let’s break down some of the short-term risks alcohol can cause for an individual.
Short Term Health Concerns of Alcohol Abuse
- Chance of personal injury or motor vehicle accident resulting in possible death
- Increased likelihood of personal violence or risky personal behavior
- Alcohol poisoning or high B.A.C levels
- Risky sexual behaviors which could lead to a variety of health-related concerns
Long-Term Health Concerns of Alcohol Abuse
- High Blood Pressure
- Liver, Colon, Digestive System Cancer
- Increased likelihood of cognitive impairments such as dementia, memory loss
- Increased likelihood of anxiety and depression disorders
- Social concerns or higher likelihood of future unemployment, divorce and family problems
- Increased tolerance or full-blown alcoholism
How will this change your ability to gain life insurance coverage for your family?
We won’t go into a ton of depth on this now. Life insurance underwriters will take all of these conditions or impairments seriously. Over consumption of alcohol can even lead to a complete decline. It all depends on the circumstances. Have transparency with your life insurance agent.
A brief overview of what insurance underwriters will look at.
- Are you currently still abusing alcohol?
- How much time has passed since your last treatment or drink
- Overall health affected by alcohol abuse
- Other risk factors such as bankruptcy, risky behaviors, driving history and criminal record
For a more in-depth look at how alcohol abuse can change your life insurance ratings.
Risk Factors for Law Enforcement Officers #2
This one is much more of a gray area to discuss. It is, however, a known issue and something worth mentioning. It seems hypocritical to envision law enforcement being substance abusers. I mean, it is part of the job description to get the drugs off the streets.
Yet, most health concerns law enforcement officers face are related to stress. Attempting to bury emotions, prior trauma, or family struggles can be dangerous. The shift work is tough, I know from experience. It can leave families in tough spots. Often it takes years to even be able to gain a weekend day off in law enforcement.
Again, I am not condoning turning to alcohol or other substance abuse methods. Truth told some officers turn to this because it releases immediate gratification. This tends to further push down other underlying symptoms. It does prove to be a fast relief to the everyday struggles law enforcement face daily. Especially compared to other alternatives.
Common Reasons Substance Abuse and Alcohol Abuse Occur In Law Enforcement
- Violent shootings
- Hostage Situations
- Graphic Crime Scene Visuals (PTSD)
- Constant Public Viewing and Scrutiny
- Shift work and marital/ family problems
- Violent public interactions (non-shooting relating)
- PTSD related shooting memories or firearm discharging
No one reading this can say this wouldn’t leave a bad taste in any of our mouths. It would be tough to deal with and drugs are one-way law enforcement officers deal with these issues. The stressful recollections of events that occurred prior prove to cause lingering issues.
Common Forms of Substance Abuse in Law Enforcement Officers
- Steroid Abuse
How Will this change your ability to get life insurance coverage?
None of the 8 risk factors we are discussing am I going to go into extreme depth on this specific blog post. Each risk factor you can view more on its individual guide listed. But I will cover each of the risk factors we discuss.
Drug abuse is also taken very seriously by underwriters and life insurance carriers. Again, the following are the most common ways underwriters will view the risk.
- Time since last completed treatment?
- Current drug use?
- Which form of drug did you abuse?
- Was it Marijuana?
*Marijuana is becoming more acceptable. Life insurance is taking the same viewpoint on this subject. Often, marijuana use will not hinder your ability to gain life insurance. You can still get coverage at affordable rates. Other drugs are a completely different story.
Risk Factors for Law Enforcement Officers #3
High cholesterol is another very common health concern amongst law enforcement officers. It should not be too big of a surprise with today’s society and love for processed foods.
When it comes to law enforcement officers and what they have access to meals, options become limited. Frequent gas station stops, and fast food options are often most convenient. Coffee on the go plus the fast food raises your chances of heart disease long term.
Below are other examples of foods associated with higher cholesterol numbers. According to Dr. Axe (food is medicine), these are your top contributors to high cholesterol.
- Full fat cheese
- Sausage, hot dogs, bacon and ribs
- Grain and Desserts
- Pasta and Pasta Dishes
- Mexican Mixed Dishes
- Cold cuts
- Reduced fat milk
This is not to say these are the most consumed foods by law enforcement. It was to illustrate how a regular individual may fall into bad eating habits. These foods increase the likelihood of high cholesterol and heart disease. When you put all these factors together what do you get? The perfect storm.
Law enforcement officers should strive to pack lunches and eat healthily. Avoiding these health concerns prior to life insurance coverage is paramount. If you already know you are most likely at a higher risk for high cholesterol, you still have options. Affordable options. Most insurance carriers will want to see that the cholesterol is well controlled.
They will also want to see that it does not take a basket full of medications to do so. Many insurance carriers will want to see you take 3 or fewer medications to control the issue. Some will allow more. Your build will play another large part of what rates you are able to achieve your life insurance.
Risk Factors for Law Enforcement Officers #4
PTSD is a growing concern in the law enforcement profession. In addition to military personnel who face the struggles of PTSD on a more frequent basis than we would like to admit. A lot of the driving health concerns law enforcement face tie together. Law enforcement personnel suffering from PTSD may have other dangerous habits forming.
Some of the primary reasons PTSD you see in law enforcement could be:
- Violent and Graphic Crime Scene
- Hostage Situations
- Discharging of a firearm or violent standoff
- Loss of a partner of fellow officer
- A traumatic experience in the field of work
The unfortunate truth is PTSD is usually complemented with other major issues. This can make it more difficult to pursue life insurance. Substance abuse usually plays hand in hand with PTSD. Major depression and other anxiety disorders can also be a piece of the puzzle.
The good news? You can still get affordable coverage with PTSD. Be transparent with your agent.
Risk Factors for Law Enforcement Officers #5
Weight Gain- Obesity
Weight gain and obesity may be the biggest problem of them all. Long days sitting in a squad car or behind a desk add up fast. Fast foods we discussed with high cholesterol make it hard not to pack on a few extra pounds.
You compliment these with alcohol abuse and possible depression, you have a recipe for disaster.
Weight gain among Americans, in general, is reaching all-time highs. Some reports are indicating we are now above 60 percent of the United States in considered “obese”. This can also play large roles in your ability to gain affordable life insurance. With life insurance, it is typical how far out of a “normal build chart” you are. Males can have a little more meat to them than the ladies.
Why? BMI and or measurements determine the outlook underwriters have on your case. Here is a better way to look at how life insurance will view your weight…
- Body measurements- Chest, neck, and waist
- How far outside normal charts and build classes you are?
Regardless what weight you are, it is still possible to gain the life insurance coverage. It will depend on what price. You need to work with an Independent Agent. More specifically, one who understands how different carriers view the weight charts.
Be transparent and accurate when explaining your height and weight. This will aid your life insurance agent, so he can shop the life insurance market for you.
Risk Factors for Law Enforcement Officers #6
Higher Risk for Heart Attack
This may also seem a bit repetitive but it’s not. Yes, the cholesterol plays into the chance of a heart attack. What most do not realize is the huge difference in the age of an average heart attack.
Let’s look at the difference. You have an average profession vs. law enforcement.
- Age 49 for law enforcement – average lifespan 57 years
- Age 72 average for other individuals- the average lifespan of 72 years.
That’s a huge difference. It is apparent law enforcement officers face more stress. They face more adversity. They face struggles with physical and mental health throughout one’s career.
What is the most important thing to realize?
You can overcome these health concerns, even as a law enforcement officer. Treating your body with care and monitoring warning signs is crucial. Track ongoing mental health issues that may be developing.
The increased likelihood of having a heart attack alone will not hurt your life insurance rates. What will hurt them? An actual occurrence of a heart attack. Once this happens it may be impossible to gain affordable coverage or get coverage at all.
Risk Factors for Law Enforcement Officers #7
Depression, Divorce, and Suicide
Depression, divorce, and suicide are also growing concerns amongst the law enforcement profession. It seems to be a tough avenue to avoid in law enforcement as well. The shift work alone would make it tough to maintain a healthy relationship.
When I worked in law enforcement I spent a majority of my time on 3-11pm shift. My counterpart worked 7am-3pm at a normal job. When I got off work I rarely wanted to discuss work or speak in general about anything going on. It was a decompressing time and much needed in this line of work.
This tied into all other risk factors. It creates a strong chance of divorce or failing marriages. At this point, you most likely have the downhill slope taking place. Failing relationships, tough shifts, and other substance abuse. All these issues can lead to deep depressions and even suicide. This is something to consider when looking for life insurance.
Your kids depend on it, and let’s face it, you are at higher risk for all these factors whether you want to admit or not. Placing coverage in force before some of these common health concerns develop is key. Obtaining coverage early will keep it affordable or even doable at all.
Risk Factors for Law Enforcement Officers #8
On Job Injuries, Incidents and Other Considerations
These happen all the time and are completely impossible to avoid in this profession. Why even bring them up regarding life insurance? I bring them up because it is not the injury itself that can change your ability to gain life insurance.
It is what happens after the injury that could pose issues for you when searching for coverage.
- What if you injured your back or another body part? It may require the use of painkillers following the injury. Yes, it will affect your life insurance rates.
- You may have been involved in a shooting. A shooting that leaves lasting physical impairments. In turn, this would diminish your ability to gain life insurance coverage.
- You may be a correctional officer who was bitten by a custody or inmate. It is possible you contracted something like hepatitis C. Possibly even another infection. In turn, this would diminish your ability to gain life insurance.
In conclusion, most people are not aware of the risk that law enforcement faces every day. They are working the beats and protecting the communities daily. The point was not to beat a dead horse. I wanted to bring to light on issues law enforcement officers face that is not discussed often. All these still have lasting damages and can hinder one’s ability to live a long healthy life. In return, these issues make obtaining life insurance more difficult.
It is imperative to track these possibilities and handle them. Coverage is still a must. Law enforcement should not overlook coverage. Even if you do suffer from one of the above-listed issues. When navigating for life insurance, always work with someone who can understand the issues you face. It will make a large difference in your rates and ability to gain coverage.
Article Published by Joshua Martin– Founder- Good Life Protection 5-7-2018