I finally got my wife to look the other way while I jumped out of an airplane for my 54th birthday. She’s always so nice about asking me what I want for my birthday, and for the past 5 years I hadgreat present. She steadfastly refused, not wanting to be a party to my smashing demise on an airport runway. So, having paid for it myself and knowing that my life insurance was all current, it’s a perfect example to discuss how life insurance companies feel about you taking up risky hobbies after you already have insurance in force.

The whole thing hinges on a simple question. Were you actively planning on doing the activity when you took out the insurance? Hoping to do something at some point in the future is not actively planning. Hoping for it, dreaming about it and asking for it for your birthday don’t constitute actively planning. Having a date set to jump out of the airplane is actively planning. If you weren’t actively planning when you took out your life insurance policy, you’re covered.

A current client is a good example of this. He travels all over the world in his business and we divulged all of the places he travels or has plans to travel to on a questionnaire that went with the application. The policy was approved, but before he put it in force he called and asked, “Will this policy cover me if I start traveling to places that weren’t on the foreign travel questionnaire?” Since he doesn’t have any current plans to do so, the answer was yes.

This question has been brought up by a number of my private pilot clients. In many cases they were ready to dump life insurance policies that they had taken out prior to becoming a pilot. So my question to them was, “at the time you took the policy out, were you actively planning to start training as a pilot? Had you signed up as a student pilot?” If the answer was no, their old policy covered them. They also ask about future changes in their aviation activities. If, down the road, they get an opportunity build and fly an experimental airplane, as long as it wasn’t planned at the time the insurance went in force, they’re good to go and fully covered.

From an insurance company point of view, when they underwrite your policy there is an assumption that people with bad habits will stop them and people without bad habits will find some. I have had clients that started smoking after they had insurance in force as a non smoker. They were fully covered even if they died from a smoking related cancer death. It is not uncommon for a recreational scuba diver to take up wreck or cave diving after a while. As long as they didn’t plan on doing wreck or cave diving when they took out a policy, it’s covered.

As for me and my 54th birthday flight of fancy, I was covered. And it was awesome.

Bottom line. Insurance companies don’t assume your life will remain static after they approve your policy. Before you run out and look for new insurance because of a lifestyle change, have your policy reviewed by an independent agent. You may be covered already.