When it comes to providing travel insurance for mountaineering, underwriters generally associate risk with altitude. And you'll see from the Sports List that we cover climbing and mountaineering according to two altitude bands, above and below 4,000 meters. At all events, one stipulation is the use of correct equipment such as ropes and belays; climbing without the use of such safety equipment (Free climbing or Free mountaineering) is an Excluded activity, and we do not cover it. Likewise, Solo mountaineering (climbing on your own) is excluded.
You should also be aware that in all circumstances, you are in charge of your own safety.
Search and Rescue
First of all, as with any travel insurance, search and rescue is only provided in the event of a medical emergency. If you need cover for S&R in other circumstances (say, equipment failure or simply getting lost), then we suggest you look at the likes of GEOS Alliance who charges very little for a fabulous membership. They also have a medivac service which will lift you to a hospital where we can take over.
Will I get rescued by Helicopter?
We often get asked if clients can expect to be rescued by helicopter. Plainly, we don't have helicopters standing by in every corner of the globe. Whether you are in Cairngorm, the Alps or in the Himalaya, the rescue system used is the choice of the rescue organization dealing with your case.
Mountain Rescue teams are generally very well trained and experienced at assessing injuries and managing the evacuation of the injured person off the mountain and to the hospital in the manner most appropriate to the injured person's condition. This team decides what is appropriate for the circumstances regardless of who insures you. Serious cases often involve helicopters but, more often, a combination of sled, ski lift, and ambulance is more immediate and appropriate.
Other factors such as weather, remotenes,s and the local availability of rescue systems are also taken into account. Again, it is not uncommon to be asked for proof of insurance while on the mountain so have your Dogtag on you at all times.
A Final Word On Altitude
In recent years it's become common for people to undertake what you might call tourism mountaineering. Now, we know that most people who pay good money to tackle well-known Himalayan or Andean peaks are well aware of altitude and its effects. However, we'll take this opportunity to point out that altitude in itself can be a killer, let alone the risks associated with mountaineering.
If you have a personal or family history of heart or coronary disease then you must take precautionary advice.
You can find some other useful information regarding sports that we cover in our Sports Information Library.
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