Millions of viewers tune in each week to watch the exploits of the Deadliest Catch crew as they face off against the unforgiving seas in search of their vaunted treasure, the rare and valuable Alaskan King Crab. Their high market value makes reeling the crustaceans in by the ton an extremely profitable venture, but the crew contends with extremely harsh conditions and grim prospects on a regular basis.
The perils are no TV drama. The show’s theme song, Bon Jovi’s classic Wanted Dead or Alive can be a chilling reminder of the dangers the crew faces every week.
The Bering Sea, home of the Deadliest Catch as well as some of the fiercest waters on the planet, is a cruel mistress. Howling squalls buffet the ship with frigid winds. A constantly slick deck ravaged by the pounding surf is a relentless threat to claim the balance and life of a fisherman. Commercial fishing equipment weighing tons sweeps precariously just feet or inches from the crew and sometimes even strikes an unfortunate crew member. It’s a thankless job.
Every time a member of the Deadliest crew shoves off in search of fortune and glory, he takes his life and the security of his family into his own hands. It would seem that if just about anyone needed good life insurance, it would be these men…but would any insurance provider in their right mind provide the coverage?
Insurance companies look closely at occupational statistics when making risk assessments of potential policyholders, and the numbers clearly bear out the high risk involved with deep sea fishing. The American Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that commercial fishing is the job with the single highest mortality rate with 141.7 per 100,000 losing their lives on the job — that’s more than three times the rate for the next most hazardous occupations such as pilots and forest loggers.
The Deadliest crew has shown their own experiences with loss in the death of Captain Phil Harris, who died during a season of taping after succumbing to exhaustion as well as a stroke at sea.
The location of the job is another serious concern for insurance companies. The crew is often dozens or hundreds of miles from the nearest medical facility and keeps only a small medical staff on each ship, so any small injury can become extremely problematic if the tools to treat it are unavailable, as was the case with Captain Harris.
The same conditions that claim the life of nearly one fisherman per week during the peak fishing season create an injury rate of nearly 100%, making it nearly inevitable that a fisherman will come to harm during the dangerous expedition. The extremely high combined casualty numbers means an insurance company that insures the Deadliest crew is virtually guaranteed to make a payout at some point.
Fortunately for the anglers, that doesn’t completely disqualify them from getting a life insurance policy. Although an insurance provider will make certain that the premium matches the risk of payout, most will provide coverage for nearly any job from astronaut to zoologist.
The insurance companies would look at the total picture of a crew member’s lifestyle from age to health history. That means any member of the crew could find a policy to cover them, and the policy will also cover any other dangerous jobs they may have in their spare time. However, they’ll definitely pay much more for it than, say, an article writer.
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