I finally got my wife to look the other way while I jumped out of an airplane this year. She’s always so nice about asking me what I want for my birthday, and for the past 5 years I’ve been telling her I wanted to try skydiving and that would be a great present. She steadfastly refused, not wanting to be a party to my smashing demise on an airport runway. So, having paid for it myself, 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 comes down to 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. Having a date set to jump out of the airplane is actively planning. If you weren’t actively planning, you’re covered.

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?” 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 to take up aerobatics, 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 pick them up. 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.

Bottom line. Insurance companies don’t assume you will remain exactly as you were when they approved your policy. Before you run out and look for new insurance because of a lifestyle change, have your policy reviewed by an independent agent.