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cneum

How to describe climbing to a life insurance comp?

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So my wife and I thought it would be good to get some life insurance to help our kids out if anything ever goes south. A preliminary discussion with an agent made it clear that they are scared of (or confused by) "climbing." I want to be honest about the type of climbing my wife and I do (which I would consider highly recreational and easy compared to what I see others here doing), but I've already got odd questions like "how hard is it?" Well... 5.8 on a good day multipitching, but I don't think they would get that.

 

has anyone been through this before? Are there any specific words I can use to cover my ass legally but not make these people think I am a professional alpinist? Already I am concerned as they seem to have a 13,000 ft cap on total elevation, but I'd like to climb Rainier someday.

 

Failing this, anyone have affordable insurance from a company that isn't scared of recreational climbers? Frankly I am way more scared driving Lake City Way in the mornings.

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I went through that years ago. First, be truthful. Oddly enough for me the fact that I climbed regularly was a plus (I was considered an expert but not a professional). Note the difficulty that you regularly climb and that you wear a helmet, use ropes, and other gear like a harness, never solo, etc. As for the 13k cap - if you have not gone above it do NOT mention future plans. Only what you have previously done.

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Years ago, I was buying life insurance and disclosed that I climbed. The agent paused for a minute, thinking. Then he asked whether I was part of any "organized climbing club." I said no (truthfully). I waited to see if I'd given the wrong anwer. The agent paused again, and then said "Oh...good." I was issued the policy.

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Also, I don't recall the specifics, but I remember my dad (a retired insurance sales person) telling me that after so much time (2 years) they cannot deny a policy for reasons stated initially when the policy was purchased. In other words, don't die on Rainier before the two year rule goes in effect (or whatever the time frame is). Again, as usual, I could be totally talking out my arse and mis-remembering the details.

 

 

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In my experience they don't care about the details: You climb, or you don't. And if you lie you'll have something really unpleasant to consider if you ever die slowly in the mountains.

 

To add to the fun, expect to pay 8-10x more for your policy.

 

I tried to add some coverage last year that would cover everything except mountaineering/climbing. Not possible.

 

This is an area where the AAC could really provide some value.

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You'll have to see the costs quoted to find out the value, but the AAC is on this, looks like they work with a group that will differentiate 'climbing'.

http://www.nicholashillgroup.com/lifeaac

 

This is a good source too, policies that go up to 15k (ft), speaks to denalidave's reference about time period and some help with making sure if it ever got paid out it doesn't get taxed.

 

http://www.mountainproject.com/v/life-insurance-if-you-rock-climb/106078054

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I was once a licensed insurance agent. Two years after you get the policy you are pretty much free to do what you please. Its their responsibility to find out your "dangerous" hobbies, (for some reason they always mention hang gliding in the training classes.)

They can't really deny you for things you "aspire" to do "some day" such as climb a big, scary mountain; only things that you do. You are pretty much in the clear.

 

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They can't really deny you for things you "aspire" to do "some day" such as climb a big, scary mountain; only things that you do. You are pretty much in the clear.

 

I don't think that's really the issue for most of us: Climbing is something we're all doing, so we'd have to lie about it on the app to get the lower cost coverage.

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Insurance companies will use any and all excuses to avoid paying on a policy. I have found consulting a lawyer who is an expert in their field to be worth every penny.

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Thanks for the thoughts. I have my "official" interview today, so I'll stick the policy of honesty about current practices, and no discussion of aspirations (since few of my aspirations have materialized since having kids!). I don't think I am going to get gouged to the order of 8-10X (the agent thought it might be on the order of 25-30% more), but if that's the case I'll turn down the offer and look for a better situation (and then rat out the current company I'm in discussions with).

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Interesting timing on this. Going through exactly the same thing now. Not quite sure how to couch everything though. I've been climbing exactly 1x in the last 2 years, but before that did mostly moderate stuff (trade route glacier climbs, moderate cragging, and multipitch etc.). No current plans for future endeavors other than, I'd sure be nice to go again :P

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- They do not distinguish between "safe" climbing like sport with closely spaced bolts and "dangerous" climbing like Everest. Trying to explain the sport is a waste of time and will just increase your blood pressure (which could also raise your premium).

- I experienced 50-100% premium increase with full disclosure.

- True dat on the 2 yr. goal.

- Ethically challenged can always claim they started climbing soon after getting the policy.

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I tried to add some coverage last year that would cover everything except mountaineering/climbing. Not possible.

 

Really? So a climber can't just get an average Joe life insurance policy and plan on having everything besides climbing covered?

 

Seems pretty stupid on the part of the insurance companies considering most climbers seem to have healthier/more active than average lifestyles that would contribute to longevity, should they not die from an accident in the mountains.

Edited by mountainsandsound

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Interesting timing on this. Going through exactly the same thing now. Not quite sure how to couch everything though. I've been climbing exactly 1x in the last 2 years, but before that did mostly moderate stuff (trade route glacier climbs, moderate cragging, and multipitch etc.). No current plans for future endeavors other than, I'd sure be nice to go again :P

 

I would answer by saying that you have climbed in the past but have not climbed in the past two years but once. If you agent is descent they will not press the issue.

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Failing this, anyone have affordable insurance from a company that isn't scared of recreational climbers? Frankly I am way more scared driving Lake City Way in the mornings.

 

I recently (about a year ago) got a policy and I will offer some of my experience. Make sure you go through a good company.

 

First.... Be totally honest about your climbing past.

 

When I signed up for my policy, they had someone interview me 2X (30 mins each time) concerning my climbing history. And yes they do ask very detailed questions like: What type of climbing (sport, alpine, etc..) How high have you been? Did you use cams, and ice tools?, and how often do you go climbing.

 

I was surprised at how detailed the questions were, it was obvious that they did their research.

 

It is important that you are honest, because if you do not disclose your previous activities there is a chance they will fight any type of pay out later on in life (depending on the circumstance of death). Plus some companies do look at your Facebook, and social media sites to find out about you (beleive it or not).

 

I actually got a really good deal on my policy (30 year term), and my previous climbing activity had no impact on my payment.

 

Now if you are a mtn. guide you can pretty much forget getting a policy. Many companies will outright reject you

 

If you are a recreational climber you should be fine (depending on the company).

 

P.S. You might want to keep all your future ambitious plans to yourself. :chebit:

Edited by Seraphim

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I recently (about a year ago) got a policy and I will offer some of my experience. Make sure you go through a good company.

 

 

Do you mind saying who you used. I am talking to Allstate who we do home/auto with, but frankly I'd rather have a detailed/educated discussion with someone with a clue.

 

In general, I got similar questions this afternoon, but they couldn't pronounce "carabiner" and asked specifically about using hexes and nothing about cams so they may be a bit behind on developments in climbing gear (or I am going to dinged for still carrying hexes!). It didn't seem like they knew distinctions like "sport" vs "alpine", and I had to explain that climbing at Vantage is not an "expedition."

 

Selkirk, good luck with your pursuit. Post back if you have any luck.

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I recently (about a year ago) got a policy and I will offer some of my experience. Make sure you go through a good company.

 

 

Do you mind saying who you used. I am talking to Allstate who we do home/auto with, but frankly I'd rather have a detailed/educated discussion with someone with a clue.

 

I'll send you a PM

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i put an ice-axe through my forehead the night before my first life insurance adjuster showed up for the physical to ask about my some-odd fresh stitches

 

the SECOND company didn't have a problem w/ me though :)

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I recently purchased a life insurance policy and they had not questions related to climbing. They did have questions about parachuting, scuba, and a few other activities.

 

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Going through the same process of trying to get coverage right now. Past history of going to the Himalayas, even though only to trek and climb a "trekking peak" (Island Peak) along with regular forays onto Baker, Rainier, etc added $7.50/$1000 of coverage. Ouch! I told the agent I was no longer interested. She said they would go back to their actuaries and try to figure out something that was sane, then get back to me. I'll let you know what "reasonable" quote they come back with

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I recently purchased a life insurance policy and they had not questions related to climbing. They did have questions about parachuting, scuba, and a few other activities.

 

Do you mind me asking what company you used?

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I recently purchased a life insurance policy and they had not questions related to climbing. They did have questions about parachuting, scuba, and a few other activities.

 

Do you mind me asking what company you used?

 

My question exactly

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Ben Bear in Bellevue with Prudential has pretty good rates for climbers etc. Since the policy is more I'm getting two policies, one with an exclusion to keep the price down. (425) 698-4514

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just to add to the general insurance issue...

 

fwiw, you might want to consider long term disability instead of, or in addition to, life insurance.

it seems to me that I'm more likely to get injured and need long term care, or be unable to work, and that situation is more likely to cost more than whatever happens if I die.

 

my situation is different, in that my wife doesn't climb, so we're not going to get wiped out at the same time (from climbing).

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I just went through the application for life insurance and, IIRC, I was asked if I did any extreme sports. I said I am into mountaineering, but I wouldn't call it extreme (he brought up activities like SCUBA or sky diving). He didn't seem to make a big deal about it. I was more concerned that by me having a motorcycle endorsement that that would increase my rate.

 

After I was approved I met with the guy again and he said I got the preferred rate and there was no mention of additional costs for anything else. I asked about the motorcycle stuff, and he basically said that as long as I'm not doing anything professionally (or semi-pro?) at the time of signing up (e.g. racing motorcycles), then there isn't any problem.

 

The only time restriction he mentioned was that I have to wait at least two years before I commit suicide. I'll keep that in mind.

 

So from what I understand, at least from my meeting with the agent, is that I'm free and clear to do anything I want, without having to worry about my policy not holding up. I could go and become a mountain guide without issues, since I was not one (or never was one before) at the time of signing up.

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