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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2003
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    96

    Definition of Mountaineering for Life Insurance purposes.

    Can anyone help me out with how life insurance companies define mountaineering? I have a policy with New York Life and have been looking at adding more coverage since the family is now bigger. One of the questions on the application is if I participate in mountaineering. I asked the agent if she had a written definition, but have been given nothing other than the agent’s verbal opinion. I have a problem with the fact that how I answer the question affects the rate, but the company can not provide me a written definition of what it is. I have told the agent that I hike for my turns, but am afraid that if I do not check yes in the mountaineering category they could deny the claim if there is an accident.

    For the record I do not feel that I have ever participated in Mountaineering. Hiking in the mountains looking for smooth powder, yes…. Mountaineering, no.

  2. #2
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    Feb 2005
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    "precariously perched on a 10mm rope hanging from a weak anchor some 500m above the ground"

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
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    I'm pretty sure you ski without taking a lift...not mountaineering.

    Just don't die with your crampons on

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
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    North Vancouver/Whistler
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    smoothious. I have life and disability with mountaineering as an exclusion. I got both my agent and broker to agree that mountaineering only involved activities where I am roped up. Any activities where I am unroped is therefore insured. I then sent an email with text along the lines of "Further to the phone conversation we had, I am just confirming that mountaineering activities are not insured... and that mountaineering only involves activities where I am on a rope for the sake of safety."

    You can paraphrase if you like. My policy and the insurer's policy had no specific definition of mountaineering.

    I got my broker to review a ski trip where I skied off a few summits and they agreed it was insured. I emailed them a representative trip report and also got them to confirm that the ski touring was insured.

    I know this all sounds anal but i come from the perspective that insurance companies will welch on payment if at all possible so wanted to thoroughly cover this off.

    None of this is any use if your policy defines mountaineering. This tactic only worked because my policy didn't define mountaineering.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
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    nanny-state
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    903
    So LeeLau now just freeclimbs everything like a burly madman?
    If you're a relatively moral, ethical person, there's no inherent drive to kiss ass and beg for forgiveness and promise to never do it again, which is what mostly goes on in church. -YetiMan

  6. #6
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    Feb 2005
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    North Vancouver/Whistler
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    Well actually my partners have clear instructions to cut the rope if I die, if possible. Rather macabre

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Oct 2003
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    96
    Quote Originally Posted by commonlaw View Post
    I'm pretty sure you ski without taking a lift...not mountaineering.

    Just don't die with your crampons on
    Ski without taking a lift. What a great way to put it. I will use that term when I have further discussions.

    I do have crampons, and have used them occasionaly. Is that the line in the sand?
    How about the use of a rope?
    Never rappeled into, or climbed anything, but have tied off to a tree when jumping on a cornice before. How would the InsCo look at that.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Oct 2003
    Posts
    96
    Thank you LL that will be very helpful. I too come from the perspective that insurance companies will welch on payment.
    My policy does not currently say anything about mountaineering.
    The questions have only been presented since I have started to look at a bit more coverage.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
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    10,692
    Quote Originally Posted by smoothious View Post
    I do have crampons, and have used them occasionaly. Is that the line in the sand?
    Nah, I was only half-kidding. I was just thinking of some of the gear that is common to backcountry skiing and mountaineering and the blurred line if you died with any of it on. Take LeeLau's advice and see if they will put a box around the term and get it in writing. Remember, it is the people who you leave behind that would have to deal with this stuff and it is hard enough without nit-picking with an insurance company over just exactly how your husband tragically died.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Posts
    4,756
    Quote Originally Posted by smoothious View Post
    I asked the agent if she had a written definition, but have been given nothing other than the agent’s verbal opinion.
    Ridiculous. That's so crap.
    "Active management in bear markets tends to outperform. Unfortunately, investors are not as elated with relative returns when they are negative. But it does support the argument that active management adds value." -- independent fund analyst Peter Loach

  11. #11
    Join Date
    May 2005
    Location
    Seattle
    Posts
    172
    Mountaineering: Walking up the back side of shit.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Location
    Undisclosed Location
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    68
    I have a friend who worked as a lawyer for an insurance company. He told me that their policy was to pay the policy but deduct the amount that would have been charged had the activity been disclosed. Sounds like an incentive to lie if you ask me- you only have to pay if you happen to die doing the risky thing you claimed that you do not do.

    I asked another person who worked in insurance about this and he said "we don't pay shit unless we absolutely have to." So it may differ depending on the company. Also this was some years back when there was quite a bit more money floating around- my guess is insurance companies might be taking a narrower view of coverage given the current economic conditions.
    "This is so American, man: either make something your God and cosmos and then worship it, or else kill it."
    David Foster Wallace

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Apr 2004
    Location
    cordova,AK
    Posts
    2,763
    good thread I better check my policy. The way things are going I was thinking life insurance is my only sure investment. Would hate to give them an out.
    off your knees Louie

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Posts
    705
    What you need to do, is attach a written rider to the policy that describes your skiing activities. Have this rider signed by an authorized representative of the underwriter (probably not the agent, as he is likely not authorized to bind the underwriter) and keep a copy. When drafting the rider, don't be deceptive. Describe your activities in detail.

    That way, you will know that you are covered. Without this, you may not be.

    Depending on the state that the policy is issued in, you may have a time limit on contestability. That means that if you pay the premiums for a certain amount of time, the policy becomes uncontestable by the insurance company as a matter of law. I believe that for New York, this limit is 5 years. Other states have similar laws.
    Last edited by Kai; 01-23-2009 at 10:55 PM.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    Bay area, cali
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    1,901
    I dont see how they could say anything besides you were "hiking" for turns. If you've got an axe, ropes, etc on you, well, thats another story. If they cant give a clear and defined definition, its not going to stand up in court anyways. I mean, you could die on a mountain camping and they could try and screw you.

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
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    Kootenays
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    If it's fun while you're doing it, you should be in the clear. If it's only fun later in the bar, then you may be in some questionable territory. If it is only fun after many retellings and lots of Scotch, then you will not be insured.

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
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    The Kootenays
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    I like snoboy's definitions a lot.

    I ran into the same issue years ago. They wanted to hike my premiums through the wazoo because I as a "climber." Turns out their actuaries were lumping me 'statistics wise" into the same group as guys on K2, and other seriously high altitude mountaineering. I got into some decent alpine style stuff down the road, but at the time I was mostly cragging, and statistically the most dangerous part of that was quite literally driving to the crag.

    The company actually had a look at things more closely based on my case and ended up subdividing climbing genres to some degree.

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Location
    The Chester-SoCal
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    359
    Don't ask Don't tell.

    Steve House is a Mountaineer - the rest of us are mere punters.

    Hide your axe and whippets

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Dec 2003
    Location
    Seattle
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    30,801
    Definition of mountaineering:

    "Walking up hill very slowly, feeling unwell"

  20. #20
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    Oct 2016
    Location
    tahoe de chingao
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    570
    Bumping from the grave

    I am recently married and attempting to pursue reckless activities in a more responsible manner. Went through rigamarole for life and disability insurance (medical exams, etc), and when I finally got the contracts there were added riders to exclude mountaineering and rock climbing. I'm fine with excluding rock climbing, but want to be sure BC skiing is covered or atleast where the line is drawn

    This is about 75% of why I want disability and life insurance (slightly less of why my wife wants me to have them). They also dramatically reduced the payout period on the disability plan (aka significantly raised the rate based on my activities).

    Does anyone have a life or disability policy that does NOT explicitly exclude mountaineering? If so, with which company?

    Lee - any updates 10 yrs later? Hopefully haven't had to try to cash in...

  21. #21
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
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    Making the Bowl Great Again
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    Wow, super bump.

    Insurance policies are purposely vague so they can fuck you over. Undefined terms will be construed as a matter of state law, so it depends what your state's highest court thinks mountaineering (and any other undefined term) is.

  22. #22
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    Posts
    5,580
    On the plus side, his blood pressure is pretty solid, and he's at a decent weight... he's a sexy guy, right?

    Live Free or Die

  23. #23
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Location
    Idaho
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    An underwriter once described mountaineering is having a rope attached to you in the mountains. They wouldn't put it in writing.

  24. #24
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Colorado
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    IMO after toiled with the same issue, if you are into ski mountaineering vs ski touring then you might be taking a chance.

    “Specialized equipment for climbing” was one thing they mentioned. Shit I use a whippet and crampons for spring and summer descents - ?? That sure is specialized stuff for snow climbing.

    Way past the contest-ability period so i guess im good???



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    Keystone is fucking lame. But, deadly.

  25. #25
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    Mar 2014
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    What we have here is an intelligence failure. You may be familiar with staring directly at that when shaving. .
    -Ottime

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