Re: Alcor

From: Mark Shewmaker (
Date: Thu Jan 04 2001 - 20:00:26 MST

On Wed, Jan 03, 2001 at 02:29:16PM -0800, Gina Miller wrote:
> I'm finally signing up with Alcor. (I'm just beginning the process)

Excellent! I just completed my sign-up a few months ago, and I've
been wearing either my necklace or bracelet, (as an ankle bracelet)
ever since. (BTW, anyone have any suggests on resizing the thing
to be a bit larger?)

The most important thing I can suggest to you, and anyone else
reading this who may be considering signing up, is to go through
the paperwork and start/continue things today. Do not let yourself
procrastinate; this is something that's very easy to put off even
if you fully intend to get around to it.

(This is somewhat morbid, but I have come to have the opinion
that if someone has concluded that cryonics makes sense, that
it's possibly/probably viable, and that it has a positive
risk/reward ratio in their judgment, that for them to plan to
sign up but yet procrastinate on actually doing so is vaguely
suicidal--it's not quite telling people not to attempt to perform
a possibly life-saving medical procedure on you if you suddenly
need it done, but it's almost that. I relay this line of
reasoning here not really to pass negative judgment on
people--deciding to sign up for cryonics is something that takes
some thinking, but to let people know the line of thinking I used
in order to overcome my own ambivalence and procrastination in
this matter. I had requested the paperwork years ago, but I did
not start the full sign-up procedure until spring of last year,
and even then not until after I had thought through things in
this way.)

Having gone through the paperwork and being fully signed up does
make me feel more in control of my life. I exercise regularly,
eat healthily, and take vitamins, and that puts me more in
control of my health as far as those things go than I would
otherwise be. Now I can also say that if I were in a car
accident and declared brain-dead, that I have explicitly
rejected the default decision to simply give up the fight and lay
there and die. There may be many reasons why cryonics might not
save my life at such a point, but at least I can say I have
actively influenced things to make it more likely that I would
continue to live. (As an aside, a few days ago there was a life
extension foundation update, (, not Alcor), about how
having taken creatine can lower the extent of brain trauma.)

And veering further off-topic in general but staying within the
how-to-improve-your-chances-at-continuing-healthy-living topic
for a moment:

My local gym has complete-blood-count blood tests every 6-8
months or so, which I have done just as a bit of a physical
sanity check, as it's good to know your levels of things. (Also,
I found out that if you break down and go to McDonald's the day
before the test, that the results are quite visible!) I have not
yet ordered the ~750 larger tests that check more
things; for now I'm satisfied with this.

However, my gym recently had some other folks over, who can check
for, among other things, abdominal aortic aneurysms. It's the sort
of thing that if you have one, you can find out via a test like this
and have the problem corrected by surgery, or you could find out by
simply falling over dead one day, or you could simply never have a
problem. The folks they went through are at

They do a few other tests too, and although I don't have any
plans to do this test again, (in my understanding I needn't worry
about developing an abdominal aortic aneurysms after having been
tested for it once), I have to admit to enjoying having gone
because I got to see my aorta on ultrasound more than having
enjoying having ruled out that condition.

It was kind of neat to see yourself from the inside!

> There is
> a list of insurance companies on their website, I was wondering if out of
> these listed, anyone has any recommendations:

> *Rudi Hoffman, (Alcor Member)
> Certified Financial Planner
> Investments and Financial Services
> I saw that Rudi and Mary (it says she has more insurance policies for
> crytransport funding than any other insurance agent) are both mentioned in
> the back of Cryonics (4th Qrt, 2000)

Rudi Hoffman did my insurance, and I am quite pleased with how things
have gone. He seems most professional and helpful, as well as being
an interesting person.

I now have a $150k GUL policy through Western Reserve, enough for
neuro with a lot of cushion for both cost increases and for most any
unexpectedly high transport expenses, expenses that I (my estate?)
might incur if I were to die in such a way as to present a difficult
or expensive transport problem but still have enough potentially
viable brain tissue left. (Flame-free plane crash while over Greenland?)

And while it's also enough to go to the newer whole-body
vitrification method but with much less cushion remaining, I am
planning on staying with the neuro choice for now. Were I to
switch to the whole-body choice, I would probably want to up the
amount some.

(I'm mentioning all this to spur possible discussion of amounts,
even though such information may be too personal for many to want
to discuss freely. As an aside, I went to Rudi with the $150k
figure in mind, giving him my reasoning for it along with my
personal goals/values/priorities that I based my reasoning on. I
was impressed with his response; basically while he validated my
reasoning based on my own priorities, discussing things from that
point of view and filling me in on general implementation details
of which I was not aware, he was quite professionally hesitant
when I inquired about the wisdom of purchasing a greater amount
instead, as doing so would not be in line with the personal
priorities that I had conveyed to him. As it is, I will only
increase the amount were I to come to believe that I would likely
decide to switch to whole-body vitrification in the future, or
were my priorities and goals to otherwise change somehow.)

In any event, Rudi has talked with and has written documentation
from the folks at Western Reserve, saying that they do accept
life insurance policies for the purpose of funding cryonics. He
also regularly keeps in touch with Alcor and its membership

I had told both that it was okay to relay information about me to
the other; I found it pleasant that during the sign-up process
that each of them was also familiar with my current state of
progress through the other's various procedures.

I am very happy to have gone through this with a life insurance
agent who is familiar with cryonics issues. I had previously
experienced the horror of trying to talk with companies and
random agents where were not familiar with such issues, although
even the general state of the industry left a bad taste in my

As to my before-Rudi experiences:

Before researching things, it didn't occur to me that there would
be *any* larger life insurance company that didn't have
downloadable sample policies and detailed information on costs
and benefits, with tables and formulas on how they classified and
treated people in different rate groups. I had in mind building
a large spreadsheet of a bunch of information about different
companies, and finding which ones met my needs best.

As it happens, none of these companies would tell me anything in
detail about their policies without literally requiring blood! I
had no problem with people representing a couple dozen companies
coming over and drawing my blood over a period of weeks, and none
of them seemed to have a problem with this ridiculous overhead
they had set up for themselves in order to simply send out a
detailed brochure either. In my mind, if they wanted to throw
away money like that, I was quite happy to let them. (In my mind
I amused myself with the thought of later holding my nose and
relaying a complaint to my state's Insurance Commissioner about
these companies' vampiric blood-for-brochure requirements.)

After the first company I talked with, (Zurich Kemper), I found
out a few things:

1. Given that I was already talking with one insurance company
    and was interested in getting a policy to fit my needs,
    general agents would refuse to talk with me, as they would
    think I was not serious about purchasing a policy, or that
    I would not deal with them in order to get a 10 cent/year
    better policy elsewhere.

2. The companies I talked with require an actual application
    from you before giving detailed information about their
    policies. However, if you apply to multiple companies,
    and even if you tell them on the application that you're
    applying to multiple companies in order to find the best
    deal for some specified amount of insurance, the existence
    of the other applications will be a red flag on your
    application with them that can cause them to turn you down
    and *still* not tell you about the insurance they supposedly

    I had already "applied" with one company. After learning
    the above, I considered the application requirement to be
    somewhat scam-ish, in that it would tend to lock me into
    one of the first few companies I had talked with, and so
    anyone that convinced me to apply in order to get the sample
    policy an info would have an unfair advantage over everyone
    else out there.

    (Plus they kept calling me asking if I had signed and sent
    in the policy they had sent me, although each time I asked
    them to note on their records that I had never wanted an
    actual policy from them, was still looking around, etc.)

3. As it turns out, I found that despite initial claims to the
    policy, I found that this one company I had applied with and
    gotten a ready-to-sign policy from would not accept cryonics
    organizations as the beneficiary or owner of the policy.
    Apparently they have even gone so far as to retroactively
    cancel in-place policies where the owner tries to change the
    beneficiary or transfer ownership to a cryonics organization.

So given that it would be difficult to find an independent agent
who would talk with me, and given the less-than-upstanding nature
of existing companies in the reluctance in which they send out
information and in their readiness to cancel ongoing policies,
I figured it would make sense to talk with an agent who specialized
in cryonics policies--and that made a whole world of difference!
There was a shocking, night-and-day difference between my
experience with Rudi and my experiences with individual

So, I would recommend talking with one of the individual agents
you listed as opposed to trying to talk directly with companies
as I did.

I don't want to say too much here about Rudi, given that I
haven't talked with any of the other individuals you listed and
so I can't give a proper comparison, but I am sure that you would
also find Rudi to be helpful and professional, as well as a joy
to talk with.

Oh, one problem I did have with the Will part of the Alcor
sign-up procedure was finding a notary public willing to sign
wills. My bank, (First Union), no longer notarizes wills, and
the other banks I talked with, some of which do, will not even do
so for pay for a non-customer. Individual notary publics are
sometimes reluctant to do so as well.

I ended up going to the Sheriff's office in my county's
courthouse. (I liked that, as it made me feel there was
less of a chance of a governmental body disputing my
intentions if the will were notarized in a Sheriff's
office.) I don't know if that really makes much difference,
but after more than a week of trying to find someone
to notify it, (someone who would be a completely disinterested
party), it was a relief to find out the sheriff's office
would do it.

I'm glad you're going through with sign-up. Good luck with the
procedure, and please let us know how things go with the sign-up.

 -Mark Shewmaker

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