When it comes to covering climbing and mountaineering, we know that risk is associated with elements such as the grade of climb, equipment and conditions. However, since there is no way specifically to guage these from an underwriting perspective, underwriters have to make some kind of judgement as to how to underwrite the risk. So underwriters take the simplistic view that risk is generally associated with altituded; the higher the mountain, the higher the risk it represents. It's a foggy definition but most people would agree that K2 is a more challenging mountain than say, Ben Nevis.
So you'll see from the Sports List that we cover climbing and mountaineering according to altitude bands: upp to 2,000 meters; up to 3,000 meters and up to 4,000 meters, each requiting a different level of sport cover from Sport through to Extreme. If you require CLimbing or Mountaineering insurance for altitudes over 4,000 meters then we have a specialist program for that called Dogtag Summit which can cover Himalayan and Andean altitudes up to 7,500 meters.
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, in other words, climbing on your own is excluded.
You should also be aware that in all circumstance, you are in charge of your own safety and our Policy Details document stipulates that you should take reasonable care. With any insurance, the policyholder should always act as though he has no insurance at all and take all measures to protect their property and themselves. You should not knowingly put yourself in harms way and you should be aware that under the terms of cover, needless self-exposure to peril except in an endeavor to save human life may invalidate your cover.
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 the Cairngorm, the Alps or in the Himalaya, the rescue system used is the choice of the rescue organisation dealing with your case.
Mountain Rescue organisations are generally very well trained and experienced at assessing injuries and managing the evacuation of the injured person off the mountain and to hospital in the manner most appropriate to the injured person's condition. It is they who will decide 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, remoteness and the local availability of rescue systems are also taken into account. Again, it is not uncommon to be asked for proof of insurance whilst on the mountain.
If you would like to have even more peace of mind regarding rescue then it might be worth taking a look at Global Rescue who, if you're injured, will come and extract you from almost anywhere in the world.
You can find some other useful information regarding sports that we cover in our Sports Information Library.
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