Life Insurance for Paddlers

I applied for a new term life insurance policy recently. Yesterday I received a call from the local insurance rep’s office asking me if I was a “whitewater canoeist”. The underwriter somehow discovered that I canoed and requested answers to several questions including where I paddle, the specific names of places I paddle, any whitewater, whether I paddle alone or with a group, etc.

I got a lousy feeling about this. One, how did they discover I paddle? Two, is my premium now going to be higher than the come-on, very competitive rate the company advertised?

Anybody had any similar experiences with life insurance companies?

Used to work in insurance
I have no idea how they found out unless you told them. On the initial questionnaire you fill out, there are usually questions about “avocations”… flying, skydiving, sometimes caving, paddling, etc. and if you answer “yes” to any of them, it’s typical for them to follow up with more questions.

I’m guessing that if you reassure them (I assume you do paddle with a group and take appropriate safety precautions) you won’t have to pay an increased premium. Can’t guarantee that though, depends on the company.

If they really don’t like the sound of it, they can either raise the premium, or they may be able to “exclude” that activity (meaning they won’t pay if you die in a paddling incident). Not sure how many companies actually do that - the area I worked was kind of specialized. I’m guessing it won’t be a big factor; I would like to hear how it turns out, though.

Thank you. I cannot remember whether there were any questions about my activities. This process has stretched on a long time and my rememberer gets a little fuzzy and I am prone to envision black helicopters flying overhead. I most definitely do recall them asking me if I had ever seen a shrink. It is very likely that I did mention paddling on the application. I’ll try to follow up with a reply once I get the bill.

I would refuse to tell them, and
if they didn’t like it go with another company.



Don’t ask, don’t tell
is my “policy” :wink: Unless you have a mortgage & significant other or kids to protect from debt, life insurance is a scam.

I’ve been in insurance and reinsurance for 18 years now & I don’t buy any of the products the industry offers beyond necessities like homeowners and auto insurance. And I don’t tell them anything about my leisure activities.

I only have the life insurance that my employer provides for free, which is enough to cremate me and cover half the mortgage for my girlfriend should she outlive me. That’s all I really need to have — nobody should profit from death, except maybe morticians.


re. Life Insurance is a scam

I am sure you mean well. It seems from your post that your values and situation make the purchase of life insurance unnecessary for you. Other people have other requirements and very well could have life insurance needs.

This point hit home for my small company within the past few weeks. We bought key man life insurance on each of us that are stockholders. One of the partners died very suddenly and unexpectedly. The insurance pays his wife and kids a fair value for his stock and the ecconomic impact on our company is minimized. Without that mechanism in place, our company might not have survived and we would be unemployed.

Life insurance can be a scam, but it also can be extremely effective. Every situation is different and every person has a unique set of requirements.



Computerized collecting of your data
I don’t yet fear black helicopers flying overhead, but was shocked with a receint encounter with my auto insurance company. In a survey of my policy they had a projected annual milage of 22,000 a year. When I asked them where they got such an inflated figure, they aluded to collecting data from a number of sources, including DMV. Thinking about it, I went cross country to build a Biardaka at the Skin Boat School in WA three years ago. I drove a new vehicle. Our vehicle inspection system has been shut down for a couple of years. So, putting together the pieces, They got the DMV data (emission testing) from the first year of ownership, which had abnormally high milage from a cross country trip, and projected my annual milage from that data for the next 2 years. I now will check projected milage at each policy renewal.

Presently, or in the near future,there is a good chance insurance companies will be checking state canoe/kayak registration lists for your name (we don’t have canoe/kayak in CT yet).


Yes, that’s what I meant
It’s a scam if you’re single, and have nobody to protect. If you have someone to protect, it is very useful.

Life insurance is a need for me
I agree. Although I pay a pretty sizeable share of my income for all insurance – health, auto, property, and life – I could not do without any of them. One kid in college, one within a year of college, self employed, wife employed in business with me, etc. etc. Life insurance is a dice throw. Its a pretty safe bet my family won’t need it, but I can’t risk it. I have witnessed a relative my age dying without it and it isn’t pretty. But getting back to the inquiry about paddling, considering the type of paddling I do, driving and my occupation (farming) are probably much greater hazards (see related post about canoeing deaths).

Another viewpoint
You say it’s unnecessary if you’re single and have no one to protect… well okay. But in my opinion, it’s never a mistake for a young person (even a single one) to purchase WHOLE life insurance (or any kind that builds cash value) for three reasons:

  1. You lock in the premium for the rest of your life at the age you buy… the younger, the less you’ll pay. That rate stays the same FOREVER (this does NOT apply to TERM insurance). Most likely they’ll get married and have a family at some point, at which time they’ll pay more if they waited to buy.

  2. You protect your “insurability”. Who knows what accident or sickness might befall a 24 year old that would make him or her uninsurable (or insurable at a very high premium) for the rest of his/her life?

  3. While some of the cash values aren’t anything to rave about, still… if you do the math, after roughly 20 years of paying on a whole life policy, you will have enough cash value to pay you back every cent you ever put into it. It’s like getting your insurance FREE all that time. AND if you keep the policy, the cash value will continue to build, and when you cash in, you’ll actually have a net GAIN, plus having had essentially free insurance all that time. Not a bad deal.

    This all assumes, of course, that you go with a quality company.

    And, no, I’m not affiliated with any insurance company anymore so I have nothing to gain from this. (I’m a tech writer for a consumer products company.)


Different strokes
I have done far better so far with a mutual fund than I would have with a whole life policy. It’s riskier, yes (Unless you factor insurance company insolvencies into the equation, and then it’s probably a wash in terms of risk), but the returns are higher to compensate you for it.

What I did do, though, is set up a plan where the fund will cash out on my 65th B-day & purchase an annuity that pays out until I die. If I outlive my principle & interest, it continues to pay regardless. The insurance company is still gambling on my life, but I get bigger benefits from living longer, not them (Of course, they’re betting I’ll die before the P&I runs out).

We have no kids, minimal debt, and are both over 40. Beyond paying off the house, there’s nothing to protect. Methinks my finance degree is rearing it’s ugly head here…I’m getting mathematical on y’all.

It’s all a matter of figuring out the best return based on your needs and situation. And life insurance is not always the best vehicle to do the job.


that “life insurance is not always the best vehicle to do the job”. You sound like you have a good plan. But for people who aren’t finance-savvy, (or say they’re going to invest that money but don’t), it’s not a bad option. You really can’t go wrong buying whole life if you go with a quality company. I like mutual companies, but be careful when selecting your dividend option - seems like a small point but it really matters in the long run.

Title your canoe or kayak?
Do you have to title and register canoes and kayaks in your state? If so, that’s maybe how an insurance company found out that you paddle.

If someone is a class 4 and above
WW paddler and they answer the question if they participate ins risky activities wiht a no and the croak while paddling the insurance company will get off. Without questin they wil during any contestable period.

My company, SBLI, asks that question and has no issues about sea kayaking.