The 7 Deadly Hobbies: Pastimes Your Insurer Hates

It's often said that active hobbies promote healthy living. Some people, however, take their fun to the extreme, engaging in pastimes that put their health -- and even their lives -- at risk. Insurance companies refer to such activities as "hazardous vocations," and charge higher premiums to those who engage in them. Sometimes, they even deny such people coverage altogether.

24/7 Wall St. compiled data from government agencies and the organizations associated with these "extreme" activities to determine which had the highest rates of accident and death. We also looked at several insurance estimates to determine how much premiums would increase for those who listed these activities among their regular hobbies. (We excluded risky activities that are generally performed by professionals, rather than as hobbies, such as rodeo riding or racing sports.)

In terms of strict numbers of fatalities, these hazardous vocations are less likely to get you killed or seriously injured than riding in a car or on a bicycle. Nevertheless, insurers consider them high risk factors.

7. Scuba Diving
Deaths: 150 a year in the U.S.
Causes of Death: Equipment failure, improper ascent/descent, cardiac arrest

The Professional Association of Diving Instructors estimates that there are between 1.6 and 2.9 million active divers in the U.S. In order to dive using scuba gear, a license is required, and training can take anywhere from a few days to several months. According to Larry "Harris" Taylor, Ph.D., a biochemist and diving safety coordinator at the University of Michigan, there are about 150 deaths each year in the U.S. from scuba diving mishaps, which comes to about 1 death for every 200,000 dives. Life insurance companies usually inquire about an applicant's diving history. People who dive to 100 feet or more can pay as much as $5 more for every $1000 on their life insurance premiums. People who dive deeper than 150 feet are usually declined coverage.

6. Motorcycle Riding

Deaths: 4,462 (2009)
Causes of Death: Failure to wear helmet, intoxicated drivers, excessive speed

Even when excluding motocross and dirt-biking, motorcycling is extremely widespread in the U.S. As of 2010, the American Motorcyclist Association had over 230,000 members. Unfortunately, fatality rates for riders are high. In 2009, 4,462 people were killed while riding motorcycles. This was down from 5,290 in 2008. According to the Helmet Law Defense League, only 20 states have full helmet laws for all motorcycle riders. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 1,483 lives were saved by motorcycle helmets in 2009. An additional 732 lives would have been saved if all drivers and passengers wore helmets.

5. Recreational Boating
Deaths: 736 (2009)
Causes of Deaths: Alcohol, poor weather conditions, captain error

Recreational boating is surprisingly dangerous. In 2009, the Coast Guard reported 4,730 recreational boating accidents, resulting in 736 deaths, 3,358 injuries and approximately $36 million in property damage. Drowning was a factor in 75% of boating fatalities in 2009, and most of those were likely preventable, as 84% of those victims weren't wearing life jackets.

4. Sky Diving

Deaths: 21 (2010)
Cause of Deaths: equipment malfunction

The U.S. Parachuting Association has 33,000 members, and it estimates that people make about 3 million jumps each year. Skydiving's risks are obvious: A parachute malfunction, a mistake in midair, or a loss of consciousness are all concerns, even for veterans. In 2010, there were 21 fatal skydiving accidents -- one death for every 142,000 jumps.

3. Mountain Climbing
Deaths: 25 per year
Causes of Deaths: Equipment malfunction, weather, falling rocks or equipment

The yearly average for deaths resulting from mountain climbing in the United States is 25, according to the American Alpine Club. In 1956, there were 53 deaths -- the highest number recorded. Mountaineers can face risks such as falling, avalanches, and loose rocks or dropped equipment. For people in the Lower 48 states, a mountain climbing hobby can cause life insurance premiums to increase $3.50 for every $1,000. In other places, it can increase premiums by $5 or more per $1,000 of coverage.

2. Civilian Pilot
Deaths: 378 (2010)
Causes of Deaths: pilot error, equipment malfunction, weather

Non-commercial aviation is remarkably dangerous, with hundreds of accidents occurring each year. There were 1,248 accidents in 2009, 1,236, and in 2010, and 937 so far this year. In total, 1,112 people died in these accidents. Being a pilot has long made for for higher insurance premiums, but prices for this group shot up dramatically after 9/11.

1. Hang Gliding
Deaths: 7 (2011)
Causes of Deaths: Pilot error, equipment malfunction

Hang gliding is actually one of the most dangerous in-air sports possible. According to HSE, a U.K.-based watchdog group, the risk of death in a hang-gliding accident is 1 out of every 116,000 flights. In 2010, according to the National Transportation Safety Bureau, there were 32 accidents, resulting in seven fatalities. There have already been seven deaths this year, with another three months to go. Regular hang gliders seeking life insurance can see their premiums rise substantially, or be declined for coverage altogether.

Increase your money and finance knowledge from home

Introduction to Preferred Shares

Learn the difference between preferred and common shares.

View Course »

Goal Setting

Want to succeed? Then you need goals!

View Course »

Add a Comment

*0 / 3000 Character Maximum


Filter by:
Jason Fisher

Here's an additional resource for those looking at what premiums you can get for each risk:

June 05 2015 at 10:24 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

seriously, no joke, I concur with everything you wrote. Good stuff.

March 03 2014 at 11:03 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I question your hang gliding stats as well as those of the "U.K based watchdog" group. Insurance companies, et al, tend to combine hang gliding and paragliding as they are generally seen in the same light by those who don't understand the difference in the two types of aircraft. I believe if you were to separate the two, you would find the majority of accidents and fatalities are attributed to paragliders. The aforementioned groups (insurance, watchdogs, etc) also do not differentiate between between rated pilot (hang and para) and non rated-pilot incidents. In the U.S., one requires a rating to buy one of these aircraft from a dealer as well as being able to fly at most sites. The sport in the U.S. is overseen by the United States Hang Gliding and Paragliding Association. They are responsible for setting training guidelines, evaluation standards, and issuing ratings, among other things. Europe and Australia have similar oversight. Unfortunately, one can buy one of these aircraft at a garage sale, strap themselves in, tie the aircraft to the back of a vehicle, and go for it - without any training or experience (it has happened and continues to occur). This also taints the number of deaths per flight statistic.

October 06 2011 at 9:32 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I think more people will die from the need of food and shelter during this administration.

October 05 2011 at 11:17 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

People in cars kill motorcyclist !!!!!!! Two of my freinds are missing the lower portion of their left leg because cars hit them while pulling out of roads at stopsigns on the left and making left turns into them.
Another guy i new from seeing him at my bike mechanics shop had a car pull out from a road on his right side and he hit the rear quarter panel of the car spinning it around he died from a broken neck.
I crashed my bike in 87 avoiding a car turning onto road from my left side. Ripped my calf almost completly off exposing the bone in my leg. ( CAR NEVER STOPPED ) I tied a Bon Jovi T shirt around it and flagged a car down who drove me to a ambulance building where no one was on duty. I told them to leave me there and go to a payphone to call 911. Doctors saved my leg and after 7 years i bought another bike and ride much more defencive Now !
Cars follow motorcycles on the street too closely also. If traffic stops suddenly the bike stops because motorcyclist ride alert ! ( We have too! )The car behind the bike runs over the bike or hits the bike causing it to run into the rear of stopped traffic. I made a T shirt that says RIDER CHEWS TOBACCO which seems to be working.

Also get the "F' off your cell phone when driving ! Have another person in the car take the call or let it go to voicemail then pull over at a business parking lot or driveway and call the person back.

If your baby`s crying don`t lean over into the seat to get the kids pacifier while driving. Let the kid cry until you can pull over or better yet leave the child with a sitter or your husband while you shop. Women you don`t need to talk on your cell phone discussing clothes or shoes or how your husband is a slob that crap isn`t worth talking about.
And you don`t need to pick up your kids from school every day. Our taxes pays for buses for them to ride on. If your kid is bullied on the bus get them a metal lunchbox to bash the bully with. I took out the bully who was the wrestling champ with mine. He still has a gold tooth ! It sure worked for me when i was a kid ! Went through several disney lunchboxes before i got in high school and with three older brothers i did not grow up a SISSY like your little angel is going to.
Only danger i have to watch for while in my small boat on the river is the guys who put the V8 jet in the jon boat.
they need to limit the horsepower of the boat motors on small rivers. Luckily i can here them coming from a 1/4 mile away.
As for hang gliding, small planes and mountain climbing 'What goes up ......... It`s not the fall that kills you people it`s that sudden stop at the bottom.
People pull stupid stunts on Quads, Climb a hill and when the quad won`t climb the hill you let it roll back and hit the rear brake when you should use the front. ( Take a course when you buy a ATV it should be required )

October 05 2011 at 4:56 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to redss67's comment

However does anyone survive without YOU to give sound life advice? You really have it all together and there isn't a question or life quandry that can't be answered by you, Sensei.

October 05 2011 at 6:20 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
ray mueller

you idiots all I want is th 7 deadly hobbies, nothing else. do you undestand?+

October 05 2011 at 4:22 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Raymond John

You list riding a motorcycle as dangerous, but over 75% of motorcycle accidents are caused by people driving cars that fail to yield as they make illegal left turns in front of an oncoming motorcyclist. As far as riding with or without a helmet---Let those who ride decide. You can twist your statistics to suit your agenda, but there's too many people driving their cars that are too bust texting or talking on their cellphones instead of concentrating on driving. When was the last time you saw a guy on a motorcycle texting???

October 05 2011 at 1:24 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Raymond John's comment

I think you are missing the point. Motorcycle riding is more dangerous BECAUSE the 4-wheelers out there don't look out for us who ride. And as for those who choose not to wear a DOT approved helmet: Grow a brain before you lose one!

October 05 2011 at 3:46 AM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply

I would of thought operating a meth lab would be #1. Maybe next year.

October 05 2011 at 1:11 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I'm 68, and I do all of these things regularly except mountain mountains here, and I have never needed insurance.......have built and flown a lawn mower and reindeer sleigh as well as a flying witch on a broom.....probably wouldn't do any good to apply for insurance after a dozen engine failures....never got hurt but I did fall over backwards talking on the phone and broke my arm and elbow in three places...... God watches over me...eexcept when I am on the phone, and that's when I need insurance.

October 04 2011 at 11:13 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Im surprised that bungee jumping didn't make the list...throwing yourself off a tower with nothing but huge rubber bands tied to your ankles, doesn't sound like a smart idea to me.

October 04 2011 at 11:05 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply