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Life Insurance For Rock Climbers (Mountaineers)

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Not all life insurance ratings are clear cut and dry. Life insurance for rock climbers is definitely one of those grey areas, but we can help you see through the clouds. We work with all major hobbies, and know their effect on life insurance rates.

Below we talk about life insurance for all levels of mountaineers and show you exactly how to get the best life insurance rates possible.

Life Insurance For Rock Climbers (Mountaineers)

Rock climbing and mountaineering are two of the major terrestrial hobbies currently viewed as a higher risk, with the addition to individual considerations for those who participate in combat sports, ultra-endurance, or certain motorized sports (see below). The constant danger of falling, in addition to certain unknown hazards such as terrain, weather, and more, have made it somewhat difficult for even novice climbers to avoid fees.

There is, however, a significant difference from company to company when it comes to underwriting life insurance for rock climbers because of the many different variables. We’ve seen cases where one carrier is willing to accept the risk at no charge, and another company decline to offer on the exact same applicant; this is an unusual discrepancy.

When you’re getting started, here’s what you can expect to be asked:

  1. When did you start climbing?
  2. How often do you climb?
  3. What is your total number of climbs?
  4. What is your highest altitude climb (can be one-off event)?
  5. What rope lengths do you climb?
  6. What is your YDS score?
  7. Do you climb with a partner?
  8. Do you utilize safety equipment?
  9. Are you a member of a club or organization?
  10. Where do you climb (states/countries)?

While this may not even be comprehensive depending on your level of expertise, you can see it’s much more in-depth than other hobbies and activities. There are a ton of variables for an underwriter to consider.

Three Major Factors

When it comes to life insurance for rock climbers or mountaineers, there are three major factors which induce the largest concern. If any of these three are beyond what an insurer is willing to accept as a risk, it can lead to a decline. Here are those factors:

  • Highest Altitude Climb
  • YDS Score
  • Country

Climbs in excess of 13,000 feet are immediately categorized differently than any below them, regardless of company. This goes for all skill levels, as well. Now, there are some exceptions to this. For example, let’s say you climbed to an altitude of 15,000 feet one-time several years ago, and you never plan to do it again. A few companies will essentially “remove” this climb from your record and consider all other climbs instead.

Your YDS score determines quite a lot for most companies, but on the other hand, a couple companies don’t even ask for it! For starters, a class 3 or lower (usually refers to those who are walkers or hikers) will likely yield you as good as Preferred Best. However, class 5 climbers (5.0 to 5.15) will see flat extra fees almost across the board.

Lastly, your location can largely determine acceptance. Many companies are against insuring anyone who climbs outside of the United States or Canada. For some, even Alaska is not allowed. There are exceptions, of course, but expect higher fees.

To better help you visualize the scenario you’re up against as a climber, here’s a quick case study so you understand how wide of a range of results you may see. This is why it is crucial to use an independent agent like us who actually know what they’re talking about.

Case Study

A 30-year-old male non-smoker in excellent health is a seasoned climber. He has no criminal record, no family history of diabetes or cancer, and a clean driving record. During the Summer, he enjoys climbing two or three out of the four weekends of the month.

He doesn’t climb more than a half to one rope length (90 feet on average), sport climbs bolted rocks with a support rope, and always makes sure he’s with a partner and friend he knows and trusts. He always wears a helmet. He was previously an instructor, is properly accredited to give First Aid, and even is a part of the American Alpine Club.

In the last few years, he’s gotten more serious about his climbing, even having gone to Colorado to climb with a group to more than 14,000 feet. As a class 5, he still sticks to the easier to moderates, although occasionally partaking on more difficult routes.

He has no current plans of climbs this high, and no plans to climb outside the United States.

This client was approved by Banner, as applied, at Standard Plus!

Here is a comprehensive list of the companies who responded to our queries about possible rates:

YDS? Result Notes
AIG Yes Standard Plus + $2.50 Limited to YDS of 5.9, no future climbs of 13,000, no water or ice, continental U.S., Canada only. (Standard Plus Class 3 or lower.)
Assurity No Preferred Best + $5.00 Subject to a questionnaire.
Banner No Standard Plus Subject to questionnaire, continental U.S. only.
Genworth Yes Preferred Best + $2.50 Subject to a questionnaire, no future climbs over 13,000.
John Hancock Yes Standard or Better + $2.50 Subject to a questionnaire.
Lincoln Yes Standard + $7.50 Subject to questionnaire, no future climbs over 13,000.
Mutual of Omaha Yes N/A Could not establish rating given information.
Nationwide Yes Standard + $2.50 Limited to YDS of 5.9, no climbs over 13,000 feet, full questionnaire.
North American No Standard + $2.50 Subject to a questionnaire.
Principal No Preferred Best + $2.50 Subject to a questionnaire.
Protective Yes Standard + $5.00 FE increased due to risk of future climbs over 13,000. Subject to a questionnaire.
Prudential Yes Standard Plus Subject to questionnaire.
SBLI Yes Standard + $2.50 Subject to questionnaire.
Transamerica Yes N/A Could not establish rating given information. Standard if YDS <3 and no technical climbing.
Voya Yes Standard + $5.00 Subject to questionnaire. No rate up YDS <3.

As noted several companies were not willing to come to a conclusion outside of a full application process, despite clarification. Also, among those who would accept the risk, Standard Plus down to Standard + $7.50 is a VERY large discrepancy.

Note: these rates are for this particular applicant, and may not be the same for all other climbers.

Final Thoughts

You may very well be able to save a lot of money from your current policy, especially if you’ve already purchased through a diver organization (and it’s more comprehensive coverage, by far), and we’re here to help you achieve those top-notch premiums.

Get started by requesting a quote, and we’ll be with you shortly to review your particular situation.


Jason Fisher

Jason Fisher is the founder and CEO of, LLC. and a multi-state licensed life insurance agent who has helped over a million Americans seek out affordable coverage, compare quotes, or get their family and businesses covered.