Tramping and Life Insurance

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Has anyone had any recent (or otherwise) experience with life insurance policies and outdoor activities? We've been looking around, and at least one of the policies (underwritten by Sovereign although it was ASB selling it to us) had specific exclusions adound adventure sport activities, but explicitly included mountaineering. Basically if you died doing something like that, they wouldn't pay out. I asked the salesperson, who really wasn't sure. He was just reading the policy as written over the phone, and I'd suspect the distinction isn't specifically written down anyway. In my own mind, tramping and mountaineering are normally different things, with mountaineering being significantly higher risk, but there's sometimes an implicit overlap given where tramping sometimes goes. Also, occasionally I do strap on crampons and do things slightly more alpiney, even if not technical. Without wanting to evoke memories of any bad experiences, but I'm curious if anyone's been through this, and see how any life insurance companies interpret tramping deaths compared with mountaineering deaths. Are there specific policies out there which take mountains clearly into account?
You need tank oxygen to be mountaineering. NZ only has hill climbs even if some of the bigger ones are called mountains. If you need to claim use that argument.
Thanks for the thought. What interests me most is the potential for a long drawn-out argument about whether something was mountaineering or not, and I guess that's what I'd be most interested in avoiding (though I don't know if it's possible or worth the trouble). It'd be good to know if people simply take chances on this one, or alternatively if there are well established interpretations out there which we should be making a note of.
I recently discussed this with a travel insurance company - as far as they're concerned ropes involved = mountaineering, no ropes = trekking. Where it gets murky is what is considered 'involvement' - what I spend half a day roped up, then climb unprotected after lunch and injure myself? Still waiting for their answer on that one - will advise. The ropes thing seems strange to me - surely a climber is far more likely to seriously hurt (or kill) themselves when no protection is in place?
I was curious, so I emailed the link for this subject to my insurance broker. Their reply is as follows; Hi Frank, Mark has passed on your email and asked if I could make comment. I am one of the Life brokers at PIC. In terms of what the industry calls ‘hazardous pursuits’ e.g. parachuting, hang gliding, motor sports, diving, rock climbing, mountaineering, bungy jumping and aviation, these are considered high risk but they are assessed on a case by case basis. Also each insurance company has different guidelines and their underwriters will make a decision based on what their re insurers allow. I have spoken to an underwriter from Fidelity Life and she has said to me that generally with mountaineering in New Zealand there is no exclusion for life cover. Fidelity’s guidelines state that if you are climbing under 4000 meters then there is no exclusion for life cover, seeing as Mt Cook is the highest mountain in NZ at 3724m there shouldn’t be a problem. There may however be an exclusion for other covers such as income protection and trauma cover but again it is individual consideration. It is very important to disclose all relevant information on an application, this is where a broker can be useful as navigating your way around an application can be tricky. If all information is provided at the time application and the insurer accepts the risk then there will be no reason why they wouldn’t pay a claim. Hope this gives you some idea. Feel free to give me a call if you would like to discuss further. Kind regards, Gareth Arlidge PIC Insurance Brokers phone +64 9 274 5751 mobile: 027 230 7894
Thanks, @FrankB and @hutchk.
The agents should be telling you all this when you buy the policy pluss any time they change the rules. I know from experience that written advice is only valid on the day of writing. This was a car policy on a 4wd that was used off road. I got a letter from them stating that as its a 4wd then off road driving should be considered proper use and therefore was covered. 5 years later I double checked on this and was told no 4 years ago the actuary decided the risk was too high and we dont cover off road any more. 4 days later I had all my insurance with someone else. 4 years they hadnt bothered to tell me that most of my use was uninsured.
My understanding has always been as soon as ropes are involved insurance is wavered but otherwise typically general travel insurance suffices. For those doing a mix of tramping and climbing I've used nzac a couple of times now, though the last time was a few years back. You may need to join, but this got you a discount on your annual hut pass and glossy mags with cool climbing pics. There was the option of coverage based on the time spent either climbing and tramping as well as the other usual bits and pieces. The details used to be on their website or at least an option for requesting the policy.
NZAC membership gets you a discount at Bivouac and a bunch of other places as well.
I just renewed my backcountry pass, $85 with NZAC discount so it all helps! As long as folk use it, otherwise it's just an expensive coupon. The discount is 15% at Bivouac, but I don't think i've ever used it there, given how many times they have sales. Handy for those non strategic purchases.
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Forum The campfire
Started by izogi
On 14 December 2014
Replies 14
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