Having travel insurance which covers every eventuality when you are abroad is not cheap but it is a prerequisite. I know from personal experience – my son was on his ‘gap’ year, travelling round the world and had got as far as Thailand where he had a horrific accident on the motorbike he had rented. To cut a long story short he was picked up from Koh Samui by a private jet and flown to Bangkok, as there were no hospitals that could deal with the extent of his injuries in the south of the country. He was on the slab for 10 hours – every bone in his head had been broken and there he stayed for at least two weeks – the bill – zero, de nada, rien.
The message for me is clear – this is the case of the well spent pound, dollar or euro – just do it.
Below is a useful Q & A about mediacal insurance for all activities expertly put together by Hugo Matin from the Los Angeles Times – thanks Hugo for this great advice.
Q. How do I know if my medical and life insurance policies cover my sport?
A. Most medical and life insurance policies have an exclusion clause that lists the high-risk sports that are not covered. The list of high-risk activities varies by provider and is based on actuarial numbers and accident statistics.
Motorcycling, skydiving, bungee jumping, white-water rafting, parasailing, and spelunking are among the activities that might not be covered. Check the exclusion clause on your policy.
Q. What do I need to know about getting travel insurance for a high-risk adventure sport?
A. You don’t have to cancel your current policy just because it does not cover your sport. You can buy supplemental coverage to add to your existing policy. You can buy year-round supplemental insurance or a short-term policy to cover the time you will be traveling.
Q. What does insurance for high-risk activities cost?
A. The price for such policies varies, depending on your age and the amount of coverage and services you want.
For example, Travel Insurance Services Inc. offers the Voyager Annual Plan, which costs $218 a year for a person younger than 69.
The policy covers activities including motorcycling, skiing, and skydiving, and pays as much as $10,000 in medical bills and as much as $100,000 for medical evacuation costs per incident, among other services.
Q. Are there any other ways to get coverage for high-risk activities?
A. If you participate in a professional or amateur competition, such as a mountain biking race, the organizers often carry insurance to cover all participants. To be safe, check with the organizer before participating in any race.
Q. If I hire a professional guide to take me rock climbing, mountain biking, or to take part in some other adventure sport, will the guide’s insurance pay if I get injured?
A. No. Guides for high-risk sports typically require that clients sign a liability waiver. Don’t expect the guide’s insurance to cover you.
If, however, the guide, through negligence or failure to act, causes your injury, you might be able to sue to recover your medical cost.
But don’t rely on that. Get the extra coverage before you leave home, and if something goes wrong, your insurance company can try to recover your medical costs from your negligent guide.
Q. What do evacuation policies cost?
A. Birmingham, Ala.-based MedjetAssist charges members younger than 75 an annual fee of $225. Members injured at least 150 miles from home will be evacuated from almost any airport in the world. MedjetAssist offers short-term memberships, such as a seven-day deal for a fee of $85.
Q. Who sells policies for high-risk, outdoor adventurers?
Travel Insurance Services, which the Sierra Club recommends to its members: 800-37-1387, travelinsure.com.
Adventure Advocates, a nonprofit membership organization: 800-211-9002, adventureadvocates.com
Global Travel Shield, underwritten by American Express: 800-332-4899, globaltravelshield.com
MedjetAssist, medical evacuations only: 800-527-7478, www.medjetassist.com
And there are many more so look around. It may take you a day to sort out the wheat from the chaff but it will be worth it – as I mentioned above a bill of in excess of $30,000 would have landed on my doormat had I had no insurance – do it.