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cneum

How to describe climbing to a life insurance comp?

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I've heard competing testimonials, but have never been able to determine whether or not the idea that you can lie on your life insurance application and two years later the life insurance company has zero recourse to deny your claim is actually true or not.

 

Interestingly, the one lawyer I know who a)has a pretty wide repertoire of higher risk outdoor activities opted and b) specializes in business contract law opted for full disclosure and paying the higher premiums. YMMV. I can't recall precisely what he said, but it was something to the effect of "there are whole departments dedicated to litigating both sides of claims denial" and if you've got a significant policy, it will be very worth their while to see if you violated the terms of the contract and they can avoid paying you.

 

Anyhow - if you do decide to go the "full disclosure" route, here's my experience. We tried to get a policy for my wife through the same guy who handled her disability insurance policy (get a policy of you don't already have one - sometimes the financial impact of a disabling accident can be worse than death). We filled out the disclosure form, they sent a follow-up form asking for more detail - and they declined to offer us a policy. He subsequently put in applications with ~20 other companies and none of them would touch us. The folks in the business will probably know better, but it sure seemed like after one company denies you you basically wind up in the "do not underwrite" pile and it's very difficult to get a policy from that point forwards.

 

We aren't sure what specific risk scared them away, but it seemed as though crossing an international border to go climbing was the trigger in our case. It didn't seem to matter that in my wife's case that literally meant a handful of days of single-pitch ice-cragging in Lilloet ~10 years ago and a half day of cragging at the Smoke Bluffs about a year ago.

 

At that point we found a broker who specialized in high-risk policies and had specific experience getting coverage for climbers (link below - not spam). When we started working with him we finally felt like we were dealing with someone who understood the difference between a 5.7 top-rope and a grade V 5.7. A significant part of the application process involved completing a completed a super-detailed climbing history that seemed like it was actually put-together by a climber, and then AFAIK he basically sent that around to contacts at various companies to get an informal evaluation, then worked with the companies who said they'd be able to underwrite a policy to put together quotes for us and eventually we got the sort of coverage that we were looking for.

 

It won't be cheap - depending on what your risk profile is I'd be prepared to pay $3K to 7K per year for a $1M 15-20 year term life policy. Not for everyone - but that's the path we opted to take.

 

http://www.stevenkobrin.com/

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Thanks for that link Jay. Might end up being useful. And I am not a lawyer, but my guess is that you can't lie on the application because that would be fraud, but if after two years you participate in activities that you didn't at the start then they have to cover you still.

 

I have the same international problem as my last day cragging was at smoke bluffs last August. Who knew that me flailing on a 5.7 top-roped crack was so extreme.

 

I did get one quote that was ~$2K per year for $500K, but that is almost three times what it would be if I didn't climb. Which begs the question: are middle aged (say >35 years) recreational climbers 3 times more likely to die in the next 15-20 years than non-climbers? That is what such a quote insinuates. Another possible way to look at it: given a pool of climbers, I bet that climbing-related deaths are way less that 3 times as high as non-climbing-related deaths. Anyone here an actuary? is this the right way to think about it?

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sorry actually we are lower risk:

"Overall, climbing sports had a lower injury incidence and severity score than many popular sports, including basketball, sailing or soccer; indoor climbing ranked the lowest in terms of injuries of all sports assessed."

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Thanks for that link Jay. Might end up being useful. And I am not a lawyer, but my guess is that you can't lie on the application because that would be fraud, but if after two years you participate in activities that you didn't at the start then they have to cover you still.

 

I have the same international problem as my last day cragging was at smoke bluffs last August. Who knew that me flailing on a 5.7 top-roped crack was so extreme.

 

I did get one quote that was ~$2K per year for $500K, but that is almost three times what it would be if I didn't climb. Which begs the question: are middle aged (say >35 years) recreational climbers 3 times more likely to die in the next 15-20 years than non-climbers? That is what such a quote insinuates. Another possible way to look at it: given a pool of climbers, I bet that climbing-related deaths are way less that 3 times as high as non-climbing-related deaths. Anyone here an actuary? is this the right way to think about it?

 

I'd say he's definitely worth talking to. At the very minimum he should be able to reach out to multiple companies and get you a sense of what you are looking at in terms of costs. Unfortunately the numbers you are working with sound pretty on-the-money, and I'd be surprised if you can get anything under $4K/million unless you shorten the term to something like 10 years - but hopefully I'm wrong and when you talk to someone with some actual expertise they'll have better news.

 

Speaking of actuaries - it's a touch puzzling to me that insurance companies tend to be so worried about climbing relative to other dangerous hobbies. I've heard from multiple people that kayaking rarely if ever shows up on the list of past-times they are concerned about, but it's always seemed at least as dangerous as climbing, if not more so. All I can guess is that the sample size is two small for them to work with and when the actuaries plug in the numbers the result they get back is "Tilt."

 

Anyhow - good luck getting coverage, and hopefully it'll cost less than it seems.

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I brokered life insurance for about a year and I still don't understand most of the underwriting guidelines. Fact is, every company's underwriting is a little different, some are more favorable for hazardous hobbies and some are less but in the end your rate sometimes just comes down to how nice your underwriter is. I had a couple clients apply and get approved sub-standard only to reapply and get approved preferred just a few short months later with no lifestyle changes. life insurance underwriting is some weird fickle bullshit. my advice, just apply with a couple companies if you can and take the best offer you get.

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I would really like to see the American Alpine Club step up and offer life insurance in addition to their rescue insurance. I think that would be an excellent benefit that would get a lot of people interested.

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The AAC does partner with Nicholas Hill (Not sure if you're talking about the AAC acting as it's own insurance company). The rescue 'insurance' is technically a benefit of membership: $5k is available to members to help cover the cost of rescue incurred domestically, and an additional $5k is paid to Global Rescue to coordinate an international rescue.

 

Since the only criteria is that it has to be climbing related no underwriters are needed to evaluate how much of a risk each member is. Whether it's climbing or not is a pass/fail test.

 

Nicholas Hill Group and American Alpine Club life insurance

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How to describe climbing?

 

Send them Dwayner's photo with all the circled sandwiches at X38.

Also extreme via ferrata guy, and clown suit.

Explain that that is the only the of climbing you do.

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This subject may still be important to some. I just got a new life insurance policy to replace older policy and Banner Life company was willing to provide $500,000 15 year term policy with history of climbing, some roped rock and ascents of Mt Rainier in each year of past 2 years history with no surcharge for climbing activity. Most other companies had up to $5 charge per $1000 of insurance desired as an extra high risk surcharge. This surcharge was more than the basic insurance itself. Banner wrote a quote with no surcharge and no restrictions on activity or no denial of coverage for climbing activity.

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This summer I got a new policy through Prudential. For basic rock climbing and mountaineering there was no charge as long as it was under 18k feet. Ice climbing was a different risk category. One thing I learned is that if you can stay alive for 2 years from the point the you take the policy out there is no investigation into how you died. So you can in theory take up higher risk activities at the 2 year mark and it will not have any effect. PM me if you want my Prudential agents contact info, he was awesome.

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