Climbing and mountaineering is a sport loved by thousands of Canadians who enjoy the exhilaration and challenge, but it may cause your life insurance application to face unexpected complications. There are certain things you should know and look for when applying for life insurance if you take part in any type of climbing activity.
Occasionally, we get clients that take part in activities that insurers deem as dangerous. As a result, their life insurance applications are often affected, and sometimes declined due to the nature of the activity and the insurer they were applying with at the time. When they’ve come to us, they’ve asked, “Can I get life insurance if I do rock or mountain climbing?”
Yes, mountaineers or climbers can get life insurance in Canada! The amount you pay for your premiums and the amount or type of coverage depends on how each insurance company views climbing and mountaineering, along with other factors, such as your overall health.
What is considered climbing and mountaineering?
Mountaineering is a broad category that includes various activities such as mountain climbing, bouldering, rock climbing, snow/ice climbing and scrambling. Climbing includes activities such as rock climbing, indoor climbing, trail climbing, and rock/snow/ice climbing.
Depending on which specific activity you do, your life insurance rates and/or your application will be affected. This is because mountaineering and climbing is considered a dangerous activity, and the risk of injury for those who take part in this activity is high. Insurers will often evaluate your climbing and mountaineering habits in greater detail during the application process to determine your rates for traditionally underwritten life insurance.
How does climbing affect life insurance?
As a hazardous activity, there are several different risks associated with climbing that are part of the reason why premiums for climbers are higher. For example, climbers are subject to:
- Broken bones, hypothermia and natural catastrophes such as avalanches or rock-falls
- Death from a fall because of excessive wind, a slip, dislodged rocks from previous climbers, or faulty equipment
- Hypoxia – an oxygen deficiency caused by higher elevations, which can lead to death
Mountaineers who have taken formal training and achieved safety certification are more likely to be successfully underwritten when applying for life or disability insurance. Being a member of a climbing club or association rather than doing this activity alone might also be beneficial.
Additionally, the time of year and how high a climber is intending to ascend during a climb are also considered during the underwriting process. In general, the lower a climber intends to climb, the easier it is to insure them.
If you climb professionally as part of your occupation, you may find it more difficult to get approved, as insurers will classify you as someone with a dangerous occupation. But this doesn’t mean you cannot get life insurance either – there are still similar life insurance options available to you if you climb as part of a profession versus if you climb for an activity.
What do insurers ask climbers/mountaineers?
Some insurers are more lenient than others. When assessing your application, your insurer will look at a range of factors related to your climbing such as:
- Type of climbing: Climbing is a term that encompasses the entire spectrum from trail hiking, indoor rock climbing, and bouldering to canyoning and free climbing (climbing unroped)
- Member of club: Whether you climb alone or with a group. Climbing alone is considered highly dangerous, as there is no one to help you if you get into trouble.
- Frequency of climbs: How often you climb. Some insurers impose maximum limits on the amount of climbs you can do in a year.
- Altitude: How high you climb. Mountaineering can involve climbing at high altitudes, where altitude sickness can be a risk factor.
- Location: Where you often go climbing. Some areas outside of North America will require you to be rated higher, or be declined altogether.
- Training/climbing experience: How long you’ve been climbing, any training courses you’ve gone through, or any climbing licenses or qualifications you have
All these factors will be taken into account to consider your rate for life insurance.
For example, depending on the height of cliffs and location, type of climbing, frequency you’ll most likely find these kinds of rates:
- Trail or indoor climbing: standard rates
- Rock or ice climbing: extra flat rate premium added on top
Other factors insurers will look at when considering your application includes:
- Current age
- Other lifestyle related questions
- Overall health and medical conditions
Is rock or mountain climbing covered in life insurance?
As long as your insurer knows the details of how much you climb and your gear/safety precautions, you will be covered and your beneficiaries will receive the death benefit if you were to pass from climbing.
If an insurance company thinks that your participation in a hazardous activity is too dangerous, it may deny your application, increase your premium, or add an exclusion clause to your policy. An exclusion clause is an agreement between you and the insurer that states that the insurance will not pay out if you were injured while participating in the excluded clause.
Not informing your insurer that you participate in climbing activities can cause your life insurance to be cancelled, or your beneficiaries not receiving the benefit if you pass from a climbing-related accident.
Alternatively, if you stop taking part in risky activities such as climbing after you have life insurance, you may be able to get a reduction in your premiums.
What types of life insurance can climbers get?
Traditional life insurance policies are typically rated in four ways:
- Preferred (commonly for those with above average health and no risks)
- Standard (people with regular health and some risk)
- Rated (for those riskier to insure or of less average health)
- Declined (if an insurer deems you are too risky to insure)
In terms of climbing and life insurance, this often means that people who do climbing will often be given either a rated traditional life insurance or declined because of their climbing. But, that does not mean you cannot get life insurance.
If you’re having difficulty finding life insurance because of the combination of your climbing lifestyle and other health or lifestyle factors, simplified or guaranteed life insurance may be a product you’re looking for.
Both policy types do not require a medical exam, but there are slight differences between guaranteed issue and simplified issue. Guaranteed issue policies have no medical tests and no questions to answer meaning you will be guaranteed approval, but will have higher premiums and there always is a two-year waiting period on the no accidental deaths policy as part of the coverage. These policies are also permanent insurance products.
For simplified issue policy, there are no medical tests, but you will be required to answer a short series of health and lifestyle questions that are less in depth than the questions for a regular fully underwritten application. However, the benefit of the simplified issue policy is that you pay lower premiums than Guaranteed Issue policies, and you may have a larger death benefit. These policies are typically term products.
How much does life insurance for climbing cost?
As mentioned, the cost for life insurance depends on a number of factors, not just your climbing lifestyle. Life insurance for climbers can range from standard to standard with an additional flat rate on top of their premiums as a result of the type of climbing they do. A regular outdoor climber can expect to pay an extra flat rate of $3.00-$5.00 per thousand of coverage for any fully underwritten policy.
But aside from the type of climbing and how frequent you go climbing, you can also find standard rates if you fit in the following categories:
- Lower elevations (below 13,000 feet)
- Climbing in a group setting
- Membership and certifications via recognized organizations
- No free climbing
How can I get a lower life insurance rate as a climber?
As mentioned, you can get lower life insurance rates as a climber if you fall into certain categories in the factors they look at. For example:
- Climbing shorter mountains. Staying closer to the ground may result in lower rates.
- Limit the amount of time spent climbing.
- Mention certifications or special training. It’s good to show you’re qualified and have extra safety knowledge to match your adrenaline cravings.
- Equip yourself for safety. An underwriter might call to ask what kind of safety equipment you climb with. Preparing yourself with the best tools for safety can reduce your overall risk.
- Approach easier mountains. Your insurer might ask about your experience level, and what kinds of mountains you climb. A history of tamer climbs could help lower rates.
- Reduce the scope or coverage of your benefits. Reducing your overall benefit amount can lower the cost of premiums.
- Improve your overall health. If you can’t imagine adjusting your climbing habits, it may be smart to think about other factors within your control. For example, eating healthier and cleaning up any lifestyle habits such as smoking can influence rates too.
Additionally, some insurers will have a climbing exclusion rider, depending on the type of climbing. This rider excludes death while climbing: providers will insure you at regular rates, as long as they don’t have to pay the death benefit if you die while climbing.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Climbing and Life Insurance
If you participate in rock climbing or mountain climbing, you can get life insurance! The amount you pay for your premiums and the amount or type of coverage depends on how each insurance company views climbing and mountaineering, along with other factors, such as your overall health. Talking with a life insurance advisor can help you navigate which life insurance product is best for your lifestyle.
If you take part in risky activities such as rock climbing, staying protected is more important than ever. In the event that something happens to you while climbing, having life insurance will help provide financial security to your loved ones.
Life insurance companies consider climbing and any form of mountaineering as dangerous. This ranges from indoor rock climbing to free climbing mountains. Those that partake in these activities can find it more difficult to get life insurance depending on the level of activity they take part in, and which insurer they go to. Working with a life insurance expert can help you find the best life insurance option for your lifestyle.
Climb at ease knowing that you’re protected
Whether you’re a new climber or have been climbing for years, there’s a life insurance product for you to protect you and your loved ones. Working with an experienced life insurance advisor can make it easier to find one.
At Protect Your Wealth, we work with and compare quotes and policies from the best life insurance companies in Canada to help find the perfect solution for your needs. We’ve been providing expert life insurance solutions since 2007, including no medical life insurance, disability insurance, and permanent life insurance, to build the best package to give you the protection you need.
We’re proudly based out of Hamilton, and service clients anywhere in Ontario and British Columbia, including areas such as Stoney Creek, Richmond, and Vancouver. Contact Protect Your Wealth or call us at 1-877-654-6119 to talk to an advisor today!