Life Insurance For Rock Climbers: Finding Affordable Coverage

Rock climbers and mountaineers need to prepare to answer important underwriting questions in order to find an affordable life insurance policy.

While rocking climbing won’t prevent you from finding coverage, it is viewed as a risk by carriers.

The good news – you can mitigate the risk by preparing for your application.

Consider this article your comprehensive guide to finding life insurance coverage for rock climbers.

Find out the seven questions you will be asked, how to possibly skip the medical exam during the application process, and when to consider a separate policy.

Table Of Contents

  1. Underwriting
  2. Best Companies
  3. Separate Policy
  4. FAQs
  5. Next Steps

Life Insurance Underwriting For Rock Climbers

Grab a pencil and jot down answers to the following climbing questions.

rock climbers

Because life insurance carriers need to analyze risk in order to provide life insurance protection, they underwrite each applicant.

The specific circumstances of your climbing habits make a big difference in how much your life insurance premiums will cost.

1. What type of climbing do you participate in?

In the eyes of an underwriter, there are two primary components to this question – terrain and type.

You will want to clearly communicate your exact form of climbing.


  • Rock/Cliff/Mountain
  • Ice
  • Glacier
  • Cave
  • Canyon
  • Artificial wall


  • Rock climbing
  • Trekking
  • Abseiling
  • Indoor climbing
  • Ice climbing
  • Extreme
  • Caving
  • Canyoning

Often, life insurance companies use a rating system to assign the type of climbing you participate in a certain level of risk.

Each company’s questionnaire and rating system varies, but you can generally expect the following:

  1. Minimal risk – hiking without the need for hands and/or special equipment.
  2. Low risk – scrambling over rocks while using hands.
  3. Moderate risk – slightly steeper climbing with equipment, like footholds
  4. Higher risk – fairly steep climbing with climbers roped together
  5. Highest risk – steep free climbing using special equipment
  6. Other – artificial climbing

2. What altitude do you climb to?

As you know, there is a big difference between climbing an indoor rock-wall at your local gym and summiting Mount Everest.

Most climbers and mountaineers are somewhere between those two extremes.

Exact altitude numbers do matter.

Each carrier varies, but generally speaking, here’s how altitude levels can impact premium rates.

  • Less impact – 13,000 feet or lower
  • More impact – 13,001 to 25,000 feet
  • Extreme impact – 25,001 feet and higher (Mt. Everest is 29,029 feet)

3. How many times do you climb per year?

Every time you climb, there is a little more risk.

Someone who climbs every week presents more liability than someone only climbing annually.

Additionally, plan to communicate the seasons you climb: spring, summer, fall and/or winter.

4. Do you hold any climbing licenses or qualifications?

If you hold a special certification, communicate that.

Underwriters like to see extra effort put towards climbing knowledge and training.

For example, you may have received special training on:

  • Climbing wall
  • Single pitch
  • Rock guide
  • Top rope

5. Are you a recreational or professional climber?

There’s a significant difference between someone who occasionally climbs for recreational purposes and someone who is a professional.

Further, you will need to disclose if you participate in climbing competitions. If so, where, when, and what type?

6. Do you climb alone or in a group?

You will be asked if you ever climb alone (that’s riskier).

7. Do you hold a membership with a climbing organization?

Memberships indicate a desire to be connected to and updated on the climbing and mountaineering community.

For example, one of the largest organizations based in the United States is the American Mountain Guides Association (AMGA).

Best Life Insurance Companies For Rock Climbers

Before you submit an application, it’s in your best interest to evaluate multiple life insurance companies.

Why? Especially when you present a risk, like rock climbing or mountaineering, you may receive drastically different premium quotes.

The following four carriers regularly underwrite applicants who participate in risky activities.

Note – Foresters is a top-rated no physical life insurance company, meaning that, depending on your answers to their Climbing and Mountaineering Questionnaire, you may be able to avoid the paramedical exam.

Best Case Scenario

If you buy a policy with full coverage for climbing, odds are, you will see at least a modest premium hike.

Referred to as flat extras, expect to pay at least $3.50 additional per each $1,000 worth of life insurance. Often, the flat extra is higher.

For example, let’s say you purchase a $500,000 life insurance policy. You are charged a flat extra of $3.50 in premiums.

That means, in addition to your base premium amount, you will have to pay an extra $1,750 annually.

Consider A Separate Climbing Policy

For serious climbers, it is sometimes recommended you purchase a separate policy that covers climbing.

Why? Adding climbing onto a traditional life insurance policy, like term, occasionally makes the coverage cost-prohibitive.

Important – partner with an independent life insurance agent (that’s us) to analyze companies and quotes to determine how much a policy will cost you.

How it works

First, purchase traditional term life insurance, like a 20-year term no exam policy. Obtain a climbing policy exclusion, meaning that death as a result of climbing will not be covered.

Next, purchase a separate accidental death and dismemberment policy (AD&D) that WILL cover your climbing activities.

The AD&D policy does not replace your life insurance, rather it is supplementary and only covers death as the result of an accident, such as a fall from climbing.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I find the cheapest rates for climbers?

While it’s likely you’re not willing to change your climbing habits in exchange for lower premiums, here are the situations that usually afford climbers the cheapest rates:

  • Lower elevations (below 13,000 feet)
  • Climbing in a group setting
  • Membership and certifications via recognized organizations
  • Avoid ice climbing
  • No free climbing

Can I lie on the application?

Don’t do that.

You can be declined coverage for lying. Called “material misrepresentation”, carriers consider it fraud and will reject your application.

Or, if your policy is issued, and it is discovered after the fact that you lied, your beneficiaries can be denied the payout.

What else can affect my life insurance rates?

Remember, it’s the underwriter’s job to asses risk.

Beyond rock climbing, there are a number of factors that affect premiums.

What if I can’t find affordable coverage?

Participation in risky avocations or professions, like climbing, means that you will need to shop around to find the lowest premium rates possible.

Even then, the price tag may be more than you were expecting. Work with an independent agent and possibly consider an accidental death and dismemberment policy.

Next Steps

Plan to take two steps to find the best policy to meet your needs.

First, you need to evaluate multiple companies by collaborating with an independent life insurance agent.

Captive agents only represent one company and premium rates vary drastically for climbers.

Second, answer the underwriting questions proactively. That way, you are prepared for the application process and can navigate through your options seamlessly.

Start with a free quote.