BBC News Magazine

Page last updated at 15:48 GMT, Wednesday, 29 April 2009 16:48 UK

What makes a job risky to insure?

The Magazine answers...

Iggy Pop
Iggy's job is deemed 'high risk'

Iggy Pop fronted an ad campaign for Swiftcover but at the time wouldn't have been able to get insurance with them. How do insurers decide which jobs can get cover?

He has a reputation as the wild men of rock, so maybe car insurance isn't such a bad idea for Iggy Pop.

But at the time he became the new face of Swiftcover, musicians were among the professions the insurance company, which specialises in car insurance, would not cover.

This is because historically the cost of injury claims made by people in the entertainment industry is high, it says. But when it comes to ringing round for insurance quotes you don't have to be a hard-living rock star to prompt a sharp intake of breath from the person asking questions on the phone. So how do insurers decide which jobs are high risk?

Depends on the risk involved in the job
Also what type of insurance you want

There's no industry-wide blacklist of jobs, instead individual insurance companies decide who they are prepared to cover - or not. The decision comes down to how dangerous the job is and what type of insurance you want.

"A man who works cleaning windows on skyscrapers wouldn't get life insurance because there is a higher risk he might die while working," says Swiftcover's Underwriting Director Craig Staniland.

"But he would easily get private medical insurance because the chance of him surviving a fall and needing lots of medical treatment is low."

Among the professions most unlikely to get life insurance are professional sports people, models, debt collectors, deep-sea divers and scaffolders. Those most likely include civil servants, office workers and teachers.


With some types of cover - like life insurance - it's easy to see why some jobs are deemed a high risk, but it's not so obvious with others.

Take car insurance. While nursing may seem a low risk profession, the fact the job can involve shift work, including nights, means it is considered high risk by some insurers because working such hours can cause untimely tiredness... at the wheel.

But no job is uninsurable, says Malcolm Tarling of the Association of British Insurers.

Question mark floor plan of BBC Television Centre
A regular part of the BBC News Magazine, Who, What, Why? aims to answer some of the questions behind the headlines

"There is no industry hit list which says certain jobs can never be insured. People in what are deemed to be high-risk professions will have to go to a specialist insurer and will probably have to pay a higher premium than an office worker."

Swiftcover has now started to offer policies to musicians after the Advertising Standards Authority ruled the advertisements featuring Iggy Pop would lead "some viewers to believe the policy covered those who worked in entertainment, when it did not".

Whether Iggy now has cover or not is unknown.

Print Sponsor


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit


Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific