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For all of you starry-eyed travelers, commercial space travel is on the horizon. Richard Branson and his crewmates recently traveled on the SpaceShipTwo Unity out of Earth’s atmosphere (and returned), with Jeff Bezos’s Blue Origin tomorrow and Elon Musk’s SpaceX soon to follow.
While space travel is currently the playground for the ultra-rich or sweepstakes winners, the hope is that one day commercial space travel will be more accessible to private citizens.
And when space travel does become mainstream, living out your astronaut dreams could be grounded by Earthly dilemmas—like buying life insurance.
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Space Travel and Buying Life Insurance
Life insurance rates are primarily based on your life expectancy. If you’re shopping for life insurance, certain risky hobbies can land you in a higher rate class (or even an application denial) because of the risk of those activities.
Some examples of risky hobbies include:
- Car racing
- Hang gliding
- Motorcycle riding
- Mountain climbing
- Scuba diving
Will commercial space travel be added to that list at some point? If space travel becomes more common among regular people, life insurance companies might decide to exclude it from coverage (meaning there would be no payout if you die while participating in the activity) or charge space travelers higher rates for a policy.
But because space travel is not yet typical or mainstream, “an actuary would not include the claim experience in basic pricing models,” says Nancy Bennett, senior life fellow at the American Academy of Actuaries. She notes that certain hobbies are often associated with wealthier clients who might be applying for larger life insurance policies.
Life insurance applications right now often ask if you plan travel outside the U.S. or if you have a hobby as a private pilot. Certain travel and hobbies can spark higher life insurance quotes, an application postponement or an application denial. But civilian space travel would need to become more of a mainstream activity before life insurance companies specifically ask about it on an application, says Benjamin Davidson, Vice President, Chief Life Underwriter at USAA.
“When the time comes that space travel is like a daily trip to the office, the insurance industry would likely require more information to better understand the risk associated with space travel,” says Davidson.
Will Space Travel Void My Life Insurance Policy?
Since space travel isn’t currently asked about on life insurance applications, an existing life insurance can’t be voided if you snag a ticket on a commercial space flight. The only void you’ll be at risk for is a black hole.
The only exception won’t apply to the regular life insurance policyholder: “The only scenario right now where an issue may occur would be if the individual were an astronaut piloting the spacecraft, but failed to disclose that information on their application where we ask about aviation,” says Davidson of USAA.
Don’t Wait for Space Travel to Buy Life Insurance (the Future is Now)
Don’t wait for a seat on Blue Origin before buying life insurance. Life insurance rates are the most affordable when you’re young and healthy. If you wait to buy life insurance you risk developing a health problem that could affect your rates significantly when you do buy a policy.
If you eventually embark on a space voyage, you won’t have to worry about it affecting your existing life insurance—unless the life insurance application has specifically asked about space travel.
After all, life insurance doesn’t restrict you from living your life to the fullest. You can still go skydiving, wrestle alligators or board a rocket ship. As long as you were honest at the time of your life insurance application, your coverage can’t be canceled by the insurer because of an activity, and the sky is no longer the limit.