UK’s Riskiest Jobs for Sickness and Injury

It is very natural to consider an income protection plan to cover the financial risk associated with having to take time off work due to sickness or injury but, unfortunately, many insurers see some occupations as just too risky to insure, especially for long-term protection plans.

With 1.3 million workers in 2009/10 reporting ill-health which they believed was caused or made worse by their current or past work it can be seen exactly why income protection insurers are so cautious with their occupation exclusions.* In fact, in 2009/10 as many as 152 workers were killed at work and 28.5 million working days were lost due to sickness or injury.*

The Riskiest Types of Jobs

It is generally the case that the more manual the work undertaken in an occupation the less likely it is that cover will be offered. The largest number of work related medical complaints relate to musculoskeletal disorders, which is commonly associated with manual work. In fact, in 2009/10 an estimated 572,000 workers reported work related musculoskeletal disorders, with 248,000 of these workers claiming back related conditions.*

The most common types of work for which income protection insurers usually decline cover are as follows:

  • Armed Forces – Even travelling to some of the dangerous locations that the armed forces regularly operate can impose an income insurance premium rating let alone going there to fight. Those in the military are also far more likely to come into contact with explosives, diving and flying, which are all risky activities;
  • Construction/Labouring – Construction workers and labourers are more likely to engage in intense physical work, operate heave machinery and work at heights, which all significantly increase the risk of injury (the chances of illness are no greater than any other type of work however);
  • Seafarers/Fishing – As children we all learn the dangers of water and the power of the sea. Spending time out at sea is a risk in itself but the risk of injury due to the use of machinery, labouring and slips and falls is also extremely high. For this reason an exclusion is also usually placed on bargeman;
  • Security/Police – Unfortunately the police, security guards and prison officers often have to deal with some of the most unsavoury and dangerous characters, which can often lead to work related injuries and cause high levels of stress. For the insurers these occupations are just too risky;
  • Drivers/Couriers – Most of us have experienced how dangerous the roads can be and the statistics speak for themselves. When it comes to business miles most insurers look to impose a premium rating or lower the occupation definition used for business travel of over 20,000 miles per annum. For professional drivers cover is often just outright declined;
  • Underground/Mining – Insurers often decline cover for an occupation that involves working underground, such as for miners and those engaged in tunnelling. There is not only the risk of a cave-in but working underground often involves the use of heavy machinery, explosives and can also impact on health due to the lack of natural light and poor air quality;
  • Aviation – There is nothing wrong with the occasional fare paying flight for business or pleasure purposes but insurers are very reluctant to insure any job that involves being in the air for long periods of time, which rules out any form of pilot. In fact, even flying your own light aircraft as a hobby can lead to special terms being imposed or a decline.
  • Cleaning – Most insurers also decline cover for many types of cleaner, with some insurers declining cover for all types of cleaner. Cleaning often involves coming into contact with dangerous or hazardous waste materials and the use of industrial grade chemicals, which insurers try to avoid as much as possible.
  • Sports/Coaches – Participating in most sports as a hobby is fine but anyone involved in professional sports requires specialist insurance as the risk of injury is naturally far higher, and this applies to both athletes and coaches. Some hobby sports can even command an exclusion or a rating if it is deemed to be ‘extreme’, such as rock climbing (piste skiing is usually fine).
  • Other – Essentially, any job that involves working at heights, with explosives, on or under water, underground, with heavy machinery, with waste materials, with chemicals, high business miles or being in the air will often be an excluded occupation for income protection cover.

Can I Get Covered?

It is important to note that not all insurers have the same occupation exclusions so if one insurer declines cover based on occupation it doesn’t necessarily mean that all insurers will decline cover. At the very worst, many short-term accident and sickness insurance plans do not underwrite based on occupation so cover can usually be arranged, albeit if the plan only provides up to 12 months of protection.

With long-term sickness insurance a number of different ‘occupation definitions’ are used when taking out cover. For office-based workers an ‘own occupation‘ definition is often used but for workers with riskier jobs a ‘suited occupation’ definition or even a ‘work tasks’ definition might be used. As the occupation definition moves from own to suited to work tasks the requirements for a valid claim become much tougher.

For some risky occupations it may still be possible to take out cover but with a more rigid occupation definition and/or with a minimum policy deferred period, which is usually set at 13 weeks long.

List of Commonly Excluded Jobs (A-Z)

Please see below for a list of occupations commonly declined for long-term income insurance (taken from LV‘s occupation decline list):

Occupation

A

Acrobat
Aerial Erector (40′ up)
Aerial Photography
Aerobics Instructor
Amusement Arcade Worker
Amusement Park Worker
Animal Trainer/Keeper
Armed Forces
Artist’s Model
Asbestos Inspector
Asbestos Worker
Asphalter
Astrologer
Attendant – Bingo – Entertainment
Attendant – Fairground etc – Entertainment
Au Pair
Automatic Train Attendant

B

Band Mill Sawyer
Banksman’s Assistant
Bargeman – Merchant Marine
Bargeman – Quarrying
Belt Patrol Man
Betting shop manager (on course)
Bill Poster/Sticker
Bin man
Blaster – quarry
Boatswain – Fishing Industry
Boatswain – Merchant Marine
Boatswain’s Mate
Bodyguard
Bomb Disposal – Elsewhere
Bomb Disposal – Mainland Britain
Bookmaker – On course
Borer – Mining
Borer – Tunnelling
Bosun (Third Hand)
Bulldozer Driver
Bunker Control man

C

Cabin Boy
Cable Hand
Cable Laying Diver
Caller
Cameraman War or Disaster reporting
Car Lasher
Carpet Cleaner
Carriage Cleaner
Caster
Casting Machine Operator
Cathead Man
CC TV Installer/Maintenance – 40 ft and over
Chemical Plumber’s Mate
Church Organist
Circus Hand
Cleaner – commercial premises
Cleaner – domestic premises
Cleaner – industrial
Club Manager
Coach – Sports
Coal Cutter Mover
Coal Face Workers
Coal Merchant – some delivery
Coal Yard Man
Comedian
Commercial Diving
Concrete Erector – 40′ up
Concrete Paving Driver
Concreter
Conjurer
Construction Work
Core Borer
Costermonger
Couriers
Crab Fisherman
Crane Operator
Crane Slinger
Crop Sprayer – on ground
Crop Sprayer – pilot

D

Dancer
Dancing Teacher
Deck Chair Attendant
Deck Hand
Demolition Worker-no explosives
Demolition Worker-using explosives
Disc Jockey
Dispatch Rider
Diver
Diver’s Linesman -Deep Sea
Docker
Domestic Premises Cleaner
Donkeyman
Drainage Layer/Clearer
Dredger Driver
Dredgerman
Driller – offshore
Driller – onshore
Driver – construction
Driver – industrial plant
Driver – refuse
Driver – tractor
Drop Ball Operator
Dustman/Refuse Collector

E

Engineer – works at heights over 40 ft
Entertainer – Entertainment industry
Equestrian Artiste
Equestrianism – Riding Instructor
Equestrianism – Show Jumping
Equipment Cleaner
Escapologist
Excavator Driver

F

Fairground Worker
Farm Worker/Labourer
Fashion Model
Fire Eater
Fisherman
Fitness instructor
Flame cutter – 40 ft +
Floorman
Floorman – Oil Rig Industry
Football Manager – Professional players
Fortune Teller
Frame Finisher
Furnace Control Room Operator
Furnace Operator – Cemetery, Crematorium
Furnace Operator – Other

G

Galley Hand
Gantry Crane Driver
Glamour Model
Golf – Caddie
Groundworker
Gummer

H

Hammerman
Handyman
Head Roustabout
Health and Fitness Club Trainer
Helicopter Pilot – Oil Rig Industry
Hod carrier – construction
Hoist Driver
Hoist Operator
Home Help
Horse Racing – Flat Jockey
Horse racing – National Hunt

I

Illusionist
Impersonator
Instructor – aviation, diving, etc
Insulator – asbestos work inc

J

Jetty Hand
Juggler

K

Kebab van vendor
Kerb Layer
Knife Thrower

L

Labourer
Land Drainage Worker
Lifeguard
Linesman
Linesman’s Mate
Lobster Fisherman
Lollipop Man/Lady
Lumberjack

M

Magician
Manhole Maker
Marine Installation Fitter
Market or Street Trader
Market or Street Traders Assistant
Market Porter – Usually
Martial Arts Instructor
Mason’s Labourer
Mate, Second Hand
Medium
Messenger – Motorcycle
Messenger – Not motorcycle
Miner
Missionary
Mobile Crane Driver
Motor Cycle Courier
Motor Cycle Messenger
Musician – Professional

N

Newsvendor

O

Outdoor Pursuits Centre Instructor
Overhead Crane Driver
Overhead Linesman
Overhead Linesman’s Mate
Oyster Fisherman

P

Painter (Exterior) – 40′ up
Photographer – Aerial
Photographic Model
Pile Driver
Pitch Melter
Plant Operator
Platelayer
Plateman
Police
Police Frogman
Pop Musician
Pop Singer
Pot Fisherman
Potman
Power Loader Man
Power Loader Operator
Professional Sportsperson
Puppeteer
Pusherman

Q

Quartermaster

R

Racetrack Steward
Rag & Bone Dealer
Refuse Collector
Rescue Diver
Riding Instructor
Rig Maintenance Diver
Rigger
Ripper
Riveter
Road Crew Member – ‘Roadie’
Road Manager – Rock band
Road Marker
Road Sweeper – Mechanical
Road Sweeper (hand)
Road Worker/Labourer
Roofer
Roustabout

S

Sailing Instructor
Salvage Diver
Salvage Man
Scaffolder
Scaffolder Offshore Oil or Gas
Scrap Breaker
Scrap Dealer
Screwman
Sculptor
Seaman
Shaftsman
Sheep Shearer
Sheet Fixer
Shotfirer
Shunter – Mining
Sign Writer (40′ up)
Skiing – Snow – Prof Instructor
Skipper
Slater
Spiderman
Stablehand
Stage Hand
Steel Erector
Steeplejack
Stevedore
Stone Breaker
Stunt Man
Submariner
Swimming Instructor
Swimming Pool Attendant
Sword Swallower

T

Tamperman
Tanker Driver
Tarmac Layer – Construction Industry
Tarmac Layer – Road Maintenance & Construction
Test Pilots
Thatcher
Tiler
Timberman
Tower Crane Driver
Trawlerman
Tree Feller
Tree Surgeon
Trenchman
Tugman
Tunneller
Turf Accountant (on course)

U

Umpire
Usher/Usherette

V

Ventriloquist

W

Waste Disposal/Recycling Operative
Wasteman, Salvage Man
Watchman (inland waterways)
Water Infusion Man
Water Skiing – Prof. Instructor
Welder – 40′ up
Window Cleaner (40′ up)
Woodman

Y

Yard Assistant
Yard Cleaner
Yoga Teacher

*Source: The Labour Force Survey (LFS): A national survey of over 50,000 households each quarter which provides information on the UK labour market.

For more information on workplace illness, injuries, deaths and working days lost due to sickness or injury please see: The Health and Safety Executive Statistics 2009/10.