Calgary

Calgary dad upset insurance won't cover backyard climbing wall

A Calgary man says he'll have to tear down the 3.5-metre climbing wall he built in his backyard for his daughter, because his insurance company won't cover it.

'I mean, she loves climbing. It's her passion'

Steve Poffenroth hired a contractor and built the 3.5-metre climbing structure for roughly $3,000. Canadian Direct Insurance has informed him in a letter that it will terminate his policy later this month. 0:44

A Calgary man says he'll have to tear down a climbing wall he built in his backyard for his daughter this summer, because his insurance company won't cover it.

Steve Poffenroth's 15-year-old daughter, Annika, climbs competitively and he wanted her to be able to train at home.

"I mean she loves climbing. It's her passion," Poffenroth told CBC News.

He hired a contractor and built the 3.5-metre climbing structure for roughly $3,000, thinking it would mean a small add-on to his home insurance policy.

"I guess I was naive to think that I would get a rider added — similar to if I had added a home hot tub or something like that — and potentially pay an extra $10 or $20 a month for insurance," he said.

Steven Poffenroth and his 15-year-old daughter Annika stand next to their backyard climbing wall. (Allison Dempster/CBC)

Instead, Canadian Direct Insurance has informed him in a letter that it will terminate his policy later this month.

Poffenroth said he found other insurance companies that would provide coverage, but his home insurance would double in cost.

"I've never had any insurance company tell me how this would be any different than insuring a swimming pool or a trampoline or a tree house in their backyard. At the end of the day, I'm not quite understanding how this is any more dangerous or implies any more liability than any one of those things."

'I don't think it's fair'

Annika says she'll miss her custom-built climbing wall, which she says she trains on at least once a day.

"I don't think it's fair and I think it's especially not fair for my Dad, because he's put so much time and effort into making this wall for me," Annika  explained.

"We've done nothing wrong. And I feel like he doesn't deserve to have to take it down."

Safety is key consideration

Steven Poffenroth built a climbing wall for his daughter, Annika, 15, who climbs competitively. (Allison Dempster/CBC)

Canadian Direct Insurance said it can't discuss its customers' personal information, but in a statement provided to CBC news, it said it assesses a number of variables when it comes to climbing structures and safety is a key consideration.

Steve Kee, an Insurance Bureau of Canada spokesperson, says it's a pretty unique situation.

"I have never heard of someone talk about installing a climbing wall. So, I'm sure that this is something that is rare, but with any activity that may have some risky or higher risk behaviour, insurance companies take that into consideration," Kee said.