Travel insurance can't prevent emergencies while in the mountains. However, it can mitigate the extent of negative consequences. For this reason, insurance registration should become your top priority before every hiking adventure. Through buying travel insurance, you invest in your health and safety.
* I do not sell insurances, I sell T-shirts. This article is just to inform you*Nowadays, with so many insurance options to choose from, many hikers are concerned with how to choose a reliable one that will cover all possible emergencies in the mountains. Choosing proper insurance is not easy, especially considering the variety of factors at play. Let this article guide you towards making the right decision!
What a Standard Travel Insurance Package Must Cover?Travel insurance is one of the most popular and profitable types of insurance, hence why the niche is so competitive. Although in many countries it is not compulsory to obtain everyday insurance, hiking routes are still potentially dangerous. In addition, the cost of medical treatment may be more expensive depending on the country you choose to hike in. Thus, you can always count on quality travel insurance to relieve you of worries concerning your health. Let's discuss standard travel insurance, and point out “must-haves” that you need to include in each insurance package you create:
Organization of medical treatment abroad, including: negotiations, transportation, etc.
Fees from medical services a doctor may provide you.
Price of medical supplies required for recovery.
Compensation for delayed flights or luggage, as well as assistance in finding lost items.
Organization and all fees for medical evacuation or repatriation of the body.
Compensation for any other unexpected expenses according to your particular insurance program.
What to Consider When Choosing Quality Insurance for Hiking?Hiking insurance generally costs more than generic travel insurance, as it includes a higher probability that an emergency may occur. However, there is no ideal for hiking insurance, as trekking routes are not always similar. The following is a list of individual cases for you to consider when choosing quality insurance for your particular mountain adventure:
● Sports Insurance for MountaineersGeneric insurance packages are usually not enough when hiking or approaching mountain peaks. Mountain climbing is a far more extreme activity compared to package tours and ordinary independent traveling Don’t hesitate to mention that you intend to climb mountains, and require a “sporting” type of insurance. Yes, its 2 - 3 times more expensive than standard travel insurance, however the cost is worth every cent. Otherwise, you may be very disappointed to find out that your travel insurance does not cover all your expenses in the event of an emergency in the highlands.
● Accident InsuranceAn accident case is an unexpected incident that entails:
- harm to health
- or disability occurrence of the 1st, 2nd, or 3rd groups within a year as a result of the accident.
● Contacting the Travel Insurance CompanyInform the insurance company of all details related to your hiking route to make sure you are able to contact them quickly while hiking. In any case that the insurance company is not available 24/7, get the contact information of an assistant company. If you have a bad feeling about it, muse over your decision to deal with the company in the first place.
● Terms of InsuranceYou can get insurance for any period following your insurance policies. Some hiking and mountaineering enthusiasts consider buying coverage around the world for a whole year; but this is quite costly. Instead, it is much cheaper to buy coverage for specific periods of your hiking trip and the countries you intend to visit.
● Amount of travel Insurance CoverageAlways check the sum insured, since this amount depends on the insurance company and the type of insurance. Also, check all cases when you receive the sum insured. Read the whole insurance contract carefully.
● Country Where You Are Going to HikeThe price of travel insurance depends on your intended mountaineering destination. If your route belongs to several countries (like Peaks of the Balkans), then your insurance must cover risks in each included country. Who knows where you might have an emergency! Keep in mind that travel insurance covering some countries are costlier than others. The insurance price depends on the given country’s medical care price level, as well as general living conditions. If you don’t know exactly which countries you are going to hike in, you can always get insurance for the whole year and the entire world. This option provides extra security, although it is much more expensive than getting insurance separately for cheap countries.
● Altitude SicknessConsider the highest altitude you are going to reach on your next hiking trip. Most travel insurances are only applied up to 3000 meters. This is not cheating policies, but rather a condition you must confirm before paying for your insurance package. Most insurance companies do not want to cover the risk of altitude sickness. Unfortunately, the risk for altitude sickness is high when 3000+ meters above sea level. In most cases, qualified assistance requires helicopter transportation and extraordinarily expensive treatments. Although general insurance is entirely suitable for most hiking routes in the Alps, the Dolomites, and other average-height mountains, it is insufficient for the majority of trekking routes in the Himalayas or Pamir.
● Viper BitesThe possibility of meeting a viper along your trail is pretty low, but the risk should not be underestimated. The probability of encountering a viper only increases if you have an explorer’s spirit, and can’t stand tourist trails. There are an abundance of vipers and insects lying in wait along remote paths, usually hiding in the terrain. If you plan on taking your route off the beaten path, get-to-know how to deal with viper bites in the region you seek to hike in. Moreover, ensure that your insurance covers the possibility of an unexpected meeting with a venomous creature of the wild.
● Emergency TransportationIn substance, trekking really isn’t that dangerous. In fact, it is much safer than rock climbing, scuba diving, paragliding and base jumping, all in which require premium insurance. However, no one can avoid an emergency situation without doubt. Even benign health problems such as a pulled muscle or a twisted ankle can quickly become dangerous when climbing mountains. Most seasoned mountaineers have experienced avalanches, thunderstorms, altitude sickness, and other emergencies in the highlands. However skilled you may be, the possibility for emergencies outside of your control still remain. Efforts to trek down on your own after an accident might lead to terrible consequences. That’s why you should always pay attention to whether or not accident transportation is covered. Every mountain climber should always be well-prepared for an emergency. Get to know the whereabouts of the nearest rescue center, and always keep their contact information on hand. Believe us, it’s not heavy! Also, figure out whether registration for your hiking route is required. It is beneficial, as rescuers can track your location in case of an emergency.
● Non-Mountain AccidentsMountains are dangerous by definition, but don’t overestimate the overall risks while traveling to another country. Be careful wherever you go, as any region may hold dangers in their own right. No wonder there are many cases of hikers climbing Mount Kilimanjaro or the Himalayas safely, but feeling the need for insurance as they come down. Hikers from Europe, the US, Canada or Australia are often not used to the spicy food or levels of hygiene they face in Asia or Africa. Countries like India have cuisine that are much hotter than what Westerners are used to.
● Organization Issues
1. Lost or stolen luggageSome of us are familiar with the feeling of a “pit” in your stomach when you can’t find your luggage upon arrival. Whether the luggage was lost or stolen, does it really matter? What matters is that you urgently need to buy new equipment for your designated trekking period. The situation becomes especially dire if your lost luggage includes some expensive gear - not funny at all. Most insurance companies cover the risk of baggage loss nowadays. However, you should still ensure on your own time that this option is checked off, as it usually does not come by default.
2. Delay or cancellation of flightsConsider whether or not the insurance you may choose covers delayed or cancelled flights. If you only have one direct flight, then a several hour delay is probably not going to be much of a problem for your mountain journey in the long run. But if you are anticipating connecting flights that belong to a different airline, a delay can be quite a nerve-wracking experience.
Insurance Policy: What to Remember?When buying insurance, always double check to make sure your personal data (name, date of birth, passport number, etc.) are written correctly. Also, be very attentive when checking the dates of hiking and the amount due. Even a minor typo can cause significant problems in the case of an emergency. While leaving the insurance company, don’t forget to take your insurance policy as well as your payment check, and carry them with you when traveling. As an extended measure of security, companies make extra copies of the documents and store them in their office. These documents legally legitimize your agreement with the insurance company. You may present them in case of an emergency to get your insurance options.
Insurance Case: Action PlanEmergencies usually appear suddenly, and leave travelers in shock. Don’t be panicked if you cannot think clearly. Try to understand that shock is a natural reaction of your mind in response to accidents that don’t occur every day - luckily for us! No matter what happens, try to pull yourself together and think clearly. Remember to contact your insurance company as soon as possible. Here is a precise action plan to ensure you do not forget anything important:
Open your insurance policy. The action plan is written down in detail. Every true adventurer must remember it.
For extra security, save the numbers of your insurance company or an assistance company on your mobile device, as well as other gadgets.
Contact the assistant company first to coordinate your actions.
Save all original documents, checks proving payment, prescriptions, and diagnoses in a sealed case in the event that you ever need to show it to the insurance company.
If hiking with a tour company, don’t hesitate to report the number of your insurance policy to the tour company representatives.