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Old 10-24-08, 11:21 AM   #1
Glades2
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Extreme Cycling Fatailities and Life Insurance Claims

My local club lost a member two weeks ago, after crashing near the bottom of one of the steepest descents on the Georgia "Six Gap Century" ride, however, since no one was with her when she fell, it is unknown whether she fell due to excessive speed, or, if she collided with an animal, however, her severe injuries seemed to indicate excessive speed was at least partially to blame (apparently, from what was found, she was not struck by a vehicle)...

From what I know, this woman was one of the "fast group", and, though I did not know her, from what I've read about her, apparently her skills were increasing over time, but, it left me wondering, considering our local cycling environment is flat with the only "hills" being interstate overpasses, that, perhaps, similar to an airplane pilot that lives and flies in Florida but then attempts to fly the Rockies during the Winter, perhaps this woman exceeded her bicycling skills and crashed as a result...

I learned that lesson many years ago, when participating in one of the LAB's (then LAW) annual bicycle rallies, and, during my experience in the Blue Ridge Mountains, I quickly learned that the local cyclists were very skilled at mountain cycling - both uphill and downhill, and, that it could be very easy to make a mistake, especially on the descent...

I also wonder about this woman's family when it comes to a life insurance claim - weekend athletes who attempt to ride like a professional rider might cause an insurance company to contest the claim (this ride was promoted by challenging cyclists to "ride the roads the pros ride during the Tour of Georgia"), and, similar to extreme mountain bicyclists who are killed due to their unusual addicition to the most dangerous trails (better known as "challenging"), again, I wonder if insurance companies take a dim view of the extreme weekend athlete of today, and, whether their settlement of life insurance claims are often at a reduced amount, since the fatality could have been avoided...

What made me think even further was after learning that some descents on the Six Gap ride were as much as 15 degrees - twice the descent of our local interstate bridge "hills", and, further increasing the chance that this poor woman exceeded her own skills by attempting to ride a course that required her to descend a hill at a much steeper angle and speed than her skills were accustomed to...

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Old 10-24-08, 11:55 AM   #2
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Operating a lawful vehicle on a public road is "extreme"?
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Old 10-24-08, 12:45 PM   #3
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Operating a lawful vehicle on a public road is "extreme"?
It is to the insurance company if this woman was descending at 60 or 70 mph - similar to the Ninja biker who gets into an accident because he or she was going 140 mph - I hope those families do not expect to collect anything if a life insurance claim is filed, because, the person did something similar to controlled suicide...

In this woman's case, I'm sure, based on what everyone wrote of her, she was only enjoying the ride, but, my worry is that as one of the "fast crowd" from an area that is without hills, she may have attempted the same in a mountainous area, on a road with a 15 degree descent, and, crashed as a result...

What weekend athletes forget is just that - they are weekend athletes, with an amateur athlete's amount of experience, especially if the cyclist is not used to riding in hills or mountains at severe road angles...

I mentioned the flying analogy earlier because I was involved in aviation for a number of years, and, often, private pilots do crash, because, as found later, they exceeded their skill level by flying into a situation that they were not used to - the same is possible in this woman's accident...

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Old 10-24-08, 01:02 PM   #4
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Someone paid the premiums for this woman's life insurance policy. The company placed its usual bet against her dying. Unless they can prove that she intended to kill herself, which is highly unlikely, I do not see how they can (or should) avoid paying the claim.
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Old 10-24-08, 01:15 PM   #5
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Someone paid the premiums for this woman's life insurance policy. The company placed its usual bet against her dying. Unless they can prove that she intended to kill herself, which is highly unlikely, I do not see how they can (or should) avoid paying the claim.
I would imagine that life insurance policies have provisions about reckless behavior. From the damage to the bicycle and other evidence at the scene, assuming it is not tainted, some idea of her riding should be able to be inferred?

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Old 10-24-08, 01:18 PM   #6
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John E,

Yes, you would think since she was just riding the century for the enjoyment of it, but, in today's economy, based on how large a person's policy is, you can bet the company might resist, citing that the death did not have to occur if the person had not been a participant at an event that was touted as being "challenging" (as Roughstuff mentioned, the "reckless behavior" factor), and, that's the problem - it's likely that the person did not intend to inflict harm on herself, but, the intent was there to participate in an event that was known to have a level of extreme cycling...

I'm sure, in today's crazy world, that insurance companies, especially for younger adults (as this woman was) do have policies written to prevent paying if the person decides to bungee jump off a bridge (per last week's news), and, ends up as a fatality...

While a person can get killed just sitting at home, there are just some things that are outside the box of being reasonable, and, downhill cycling at 60 mph or more is one of those things...

My guess is that the insurance company would investigate the death, and, perhaps even request medical records, to try to determine what happened (the person was treated on-scene by two doctors, and, was airlifted, and, was an ICU patient for almost one week, so, a good treatment history exists)...

As a cyclist, what comes to my mind is the nature of the event itself - if she were on a "average" ride and fell after hitting a pothole and died as a result of the injuries, that would be another matter, but, to participate in an event that was know to have it's dangers, and, was actually the reason her group participated (by what was written on their web site) is another issue...

Last edited by Glades2; 10-24-08 at 01:27 PM.
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Old 10-24-08, 01:38 PM   #7
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Just a footnote - I certainly wish the family well, but, it did trouble me that it's the mindset of today's very fast clubs, since, they often do exceed their skill level...

As mentioned at the start, I learned my lesson a long time ago in the mountains of Virginia - being from Florida, I felt like a novice when it came to riding with cyclists who live and cycle the mountains every week, and, my guess is that this woman just got into a situation that exceeded her skill level and paid the ultimate price...

Hopefully, if the insurance company looks at it that way, they will not contest her parent's claim, and, hopefully others will learn from this tragedy, and, at least will try to be more skilled in cycling mountain roads before attempting rides such as the Six Gap Century...

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Old 10-24-08, 01:41 PM   #8
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To not pay a life insurance settlement because someone lost their life on a section of road that someone labeled as challenging would be absurd and easily contested in court.
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Old 10-24-08, 01:57 PM   #9
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Way to many assumptions in this thread, especially the OP.
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Old 10-24-08, 01:57 PM   #10
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Hopefully, if the insurance company looks at it that way, they will not contest her parent's claim, and, hopefully others will learn from this tragedy, and, at least will try to be more skilled in cycling mountain roads before attempting rides such as the Six Gap Century...

Glades2

Or reach some middle ground. If the insurance company has to pay in full, then premiums will rise for us pokey riders in order to subsidize reckless behavior. Just like automobile insurance, where higher premiums are assigned to drivers who have poor driving records, insurance companies have every right to insert 'reckless clauses' (for lack of a better name) in their policies, and/or charge more for coverage of certain acts.

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Old 10-24-08, 01:59 PM   #11
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Way to many assumptions in this thread, especially the OP.
Well, by anticipating and working out the logic and justice of various scenarios, alot of pain, heartache, and money can be saved.

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Old 10-24-08, 02:01 PM   #12
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Easily contested, but in most cases, insurance company lawyers > lawyers hired by family.
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Old 10-24-08, 02:09 PM   #13
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Just wish to point out the following assumptions that should be taken into question:

Quote:
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It is to the insurance company if this woman was descending at 60 or 70 mph...
What was she descending at?

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What weekend athletes forget is just that - they are weekend athletes, with an amateur athlete's amount of experience, especially if the cyclist is not used to riding in hills or mountains at severe road angles...
What was her experience level?

-Kurt
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Old 10-24-08, 02:16 PM   #14
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Just wish to point out the following assumptions that should be taken into question:



What was she descending at?



What was her experience level?

-Kurt

Those are assumptions (or more exactly, unknowns, where on bikeforums are working out the permutations) which can probably be determined by interviews at the scene and forensic evidence.

Charging greater premiums for reckless behavior is merely the flip side of charging lower premiums for positive steps such as not smoking, etc.

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Old 10-24-08, 03:17 PM   #15
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You mostly can't have an accidental death without someone doing something stupid. Whether the insurance pays doesn't depend on what they'd like to do or whether the woman was reckless or not, but on what the policy said. If it excluded deaths due to "reckless behavior" or "extreme sports", that would be one thing. if not, it's a moot point.

I would interpret "challenging" as meaning tiring or exhausting, not dangerous. Riding around the block 800 times is challenging.
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Old 10-24-08, 03:47 PM   #16
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Just wish to point out the following assumptions that should be taken into question:



What was she descending at?



What was her experience level?

-Kurt
AND what difference does it make unless the life insurance policy has some sort of exclusion from payment IN WRITING for death by riding a bicycle too fast or failure to be at an "approved" experience level.

The OP's foil hat needs to stapled tighter. His imagination is running wild.
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Old 10-24-08, 06:31 PM   #17
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It's a massive stretch to label any road century anywhere "extreme." I don't care how steep the descent is.

Doesn't seem like there is enough information to determine what exactly happened and you are thrusting forth with a lot of assumptions in a curious fashion.
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Old 10-24-08, 06:34 PM   #18
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It is to the insurance company if this woman was descending at 60 or 70 mph ...
Where are you getting this stuff? Did someone other than you make the claim she was descending at 60-70 mph? If so, please tell us who so they can be ridiculed.
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Old 10-24-08, 07:40 PM   #19
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There is next to zero percent that any life insurance company would contest paying on a death like this, as a basic understanding of insurance law would show.
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Old 10-24-08, 07:51 PM   #20
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The things we find to worry about
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Old 10-24-08, 10:20 PM   #21
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15% or 15 degree hill? On a 15 degree hill I'd only get up to 30-40mph.
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Old 10-24-08, 10:33 PM   #22
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15% or 15 degree hill? On a 15 degree hill I'd only get up to 30-40mph.
If you'd eaten your revolutionary bananas, you could probably hit 60.
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Old 10-25-08, 05:11 AM   #23
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What she did may have been dumb, but, imo, it was a long way from extreme.

When I think extreme, I think of idiots who purposely ski off cliffs.

They should not be paid insurance claims unless the writer knew going in what they did. But, I doubt anyine would write such a policy.

If this woman is denied her claim, it sets a bad precedent and each one of us that rides at "lethal" speeds, which could be considered anything over maybe 30 mph, better watch out.
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Old 10-25-08, 09:41 AM   #24
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Life Insurance companies usually cover deaths for virtually any reason. Being stupid or doing something rash that is fatal does not void the policy. The insurance companies go by the actuarial tables and those work pretty well.
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Old 10-25-08, 10:05 AM   #25
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Does anyone have any actual experience or anecdote about an insurance company denying a claim because of extreme sport death? Otherwise, this thread is kind of moot...

Whenever I've applied for life insurance, they tend to ask a series of questions: are you a licensed pilot? Do you parachute? Do you race any type of vehicle? Do you SCUBA dive? That's all I've ever run into. If I was ever asked, "Do you have a motorcycle license?" or "Do you ride a bicycle competitively?", I'd be hanging up pronto after finding out details about why they were asking and find another insurance company to deal with.
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