Unless you really like taking risks it is important to ensure that you have adequate insurance for any expedition. The level of risk that you personally are prepared to underwrite is clearly an individual thing, but emergency hospital care and repatriation are essential cover. Note that equipment loss may be covered by your house contents policy. You also need to be aware that irrespective of your insurance, emergency rescue may not be possible in some remote areas and you will need to have in place a process for self-help. For example, not every country has helicopters available for rescue and mountain rescue teams generally do not exist outside of western countries. In an emergency you are likely to have to evacuate yourselves to a road-head or place where mechanised transport is available.
So, what insurance is available? To a large extent this depends on where you are planning to go and what level of cover you require. The BMC (www.thebmc.co.uk) will provide various levels of cover for everywhere except Antarctica, but it is expensive and you must ensure that you have selected the correct policy for your activity. A much cheaper option is the Austrian Alpine Club (www.aacuk.org.uk), but this is a basic policy that is limited to peaks below 6,000m and excludes arctic regions. You should also be aware that this cover specifically excludes expeditions, which for many will be the purpose of their trip. However, it is relatively simple and cheap to extend the cover to include expeditions and peaks above 6,000m provided that you are an Austrian Alpine Club member. This augmented insurance is called the Alpenverein Premium Single Trip Protection, and as the name implies it covers single trips of varying durations from 5 days to 4 months. Costs vary according to the duration of the trip, but by way of example one month worldwide cover above 6,000m is 191 euros. Unlike many policies there is no age limitation. Cover is only available on-line at http://partner.europaeische.at/oeav_prs. Unfortunately while the policy itself is in English the on-line application is in German, although a simple dictionary should sort out the less obvious words. The policy is sent back by email immediately.
Although this augmented insurance does not cover the Arctic, Antarctica and Greenland, this can be arranged separately at KNOX Versicherungsmanagement GmbH.
There are various other options available that are too numerous to list, but whichever you choose be careful to read ALL the small print as many policies automatically exclude expeditions where ropes and technical equipment are used or when ski-ing off-piste. Another consideration is age. Many policies will not insure anyone over 64. One company, HCC Atlas Travel, a part of the eGlobal Health Insurers Agency (www.hccmis.com/atlastravel/?referid=22324&lan) can be adapted to your level of risk and is reasonably priced, but do check its suitability and compare it with other providers before you make your decision.
Hannah Baker’s experience in looking for insurance for Antarctica.
I contacted many insurers and this is what I came up with:
Atlas group: http://www.eglobalhealth.com/travel_insurance-trip_cancellation_insuranc... Group_travel_medical_insurance.html will automatically cover high adventure sporting activities for medical / evac/ repatriation, such as what you are doing. The only caveat is that you not be competing in a professional sport. Policy detailed wording document is also attached for your review of benefits and exclusions.From the link you can quote and apply and this will require a minimum of 5 persons to get this particular group rated plan. The brochure showing coverage overview on page 4 is also attached *in PDF. (PDF available but needs link) Should you have less than 5 members at this point, each member can individually apply using this “individual program” link for the Atlas plan: http://www.eglobalhealth.com/travel_insurance-trip_cancellation_insuranc... .’
Atlas Insurance (as above) - good value medical evac and repat up to $USD 300,000 medical evac and repat (lifetime maximum) http://www.hccmis.com/atlas-travel-insurance/
Dogtag - check age - not very good value insurance but does cover (to a high value) emergency evac and repat and Antarctica http://www.dogtag.co.uk/
Antarctic Logistics and Expeditions (ALE) provide useful information about up to date insurance options http://www.antarctic-logistics.com/
Global Rescue - now only cover to the 60th Parallel https://www.globalrescue.com/
One useful thing to note is that if you can supply a U.S. address there are more options open to you. The broker, Global Health, I eventually got the Atlas insurance through was extremely helpful and worked for eglobal health - http://www.eglobalhealth.com/
I was also advised that for those who have top end (paid for) credit cards they get very good insurance benefits.I think the main problem with insurance is that it’s always changing - Dogtag for instance has policies that are only available for a couple of months at a time.
Thanks to Hannah Baker.
Jim Milledge on travel insurance for 82 yr olds :
‘I thought I would let you have my experience in getting Travel insurance as I get older (now 82) and acquire some medical history! Up to the age of 75 I had a wonderful deal via my Gold card LoydsTSB account. All year travel insurance for free. Since then I could only find insurance on a trip by trip basis. At first I used the same company that LloydsTSB used ie AXA but it was quite expensive. More recently I used first Castle Insurance,(www.castlecover.co.uk/) also not cheap but better than AXA. They are underwritten by AXA amongst others. I then moved onto Insureandgo (www.insureandgo.com.) The latter is a company that expanded very rapidly and has recently been taken over by a Spanish company, MAPFRE ASISTENCIA. Both the latter two companies say, on their web sites, “No age limit”.
I have had no experience of making a claim on these two companies. But I did make a small claim on AXA after fracturing my pelvis skiing in 2010 and they were very good in meeting it without fuss.! A 4 week holiday trekking in Nepal last year cost around £400, I think, with Insureandgo.