Ironically, he says of an industry that is all about studying the details surrounding dangers, "I think the insurance companies just don't understand the risks, or lack thereof," says Sarullo, who won't give up diving to attain long-term disability insurance: "I love it too much."
You can do something crazy every once in awhile. Wake up one day and suddenly feel the urge to learn to skydive? Watch the opening scene in the Billy Crystal comedy classic "City Slickers" and decide that you, too, should run with the bulls in Spain? If you risk death in some wild stunt and don't end up coming out okay, your life insurance will still pay out, says Laura Adams, a senior insurance analyst at InsuranceQuotes.com, an insurance comparison site.
There is one caveat, and that's whether you bought your life insurance a few weeks or days before you ran with the bulls, which would suggest you bought it because you knew there was a good chance you might be a goner. Adams says that generally with an insurance policy, "there's what's called a contestability period, usually about two years, where the insurance company is more likely to investigate a death."
Above all, be honest in your application. You might easily think it's not worth the trouble to tell an insurance company about your love for mountain climbing, and it's true that it's probably not smart to volunteer the information. But if you're asked and lie to an agent or on your application, you're taking just as much of a risk as the pastime you're engaged in.
"If they ask about your lifestyle, you've got to be honest," says Adams. "If you're a pilot or scuba diver and you lie about that, and then you die in a skydiving accident or you go spelunking and they find you underwater in a cave, the insurance company may not pay out. They can argue that it was fraud and that your beneficiaries aren't entitled to anything."
And odds are, they will find out. Insurance companies, says Winston, are well aware of "the groups you're involved in, the commentary you write on Facebook, the stuff you post on Instagram. If you have a low-value insurance policy, it won't come up, but if it's a serious policy that could bring in big numbers, they'll want more background on you."
Winston adds that even if you're quiet about your activities, someone else might not be. "Somebody might post a picture of you diving underwater and tag it to you on Facebook, and so suddenly your insurance company knows what you've been up to, and it isn't even something that you disclosed," Winston says. "But that's just the way things are interconnected now."