Mountain Rescue Travel Insurance
Almost all travel insurance policies cover Mountain Rescue. Some call it Mountain Recovery. There are often conditions attached, and it is either a stand-alone benefit as “Search and Rescue” like with this Policy or 95% of the time part of Medical Coverage.
As most Medical Travel Insurance covers from £1m up to £10m, then there is sufficient cover for Mountain Rescue on a policy.
Activities that are most relevant to Mountain Rescue Travel Insurance
- Winter Sports – Recreational skiing and snowboarding, off-piste with/or without a Guide, Back Country skiing/snowboarding, Ski Touring.
- Air Sports such as Paragliding, Paramotoring, Sky Diving
- Trekking, especially at high altitudes like Nepal, Morocco, Kilimanjaro, Peru, or the Alps. Also, walking and hiking at lower altitudes up to 3,000m in the Alps or the UK
- Downhill Mountain Biking
Types of Mountain Rescue
- Helicopters: these are the most common when the person who needs to be rescued is on terrain outside of patrolled boundaries in a ski resort or remote trekking terrain. Off-piste, Ski Touring and Backcountry Skiing, Trekking Everest Base Camp almost always use helicopters; the key here is not to ascend too quickly and get Altitude sickness (see blog here on avoiding this)
- Dogs: These are trained to find people through Air Scenting, Trailing, and Tracking; they are good at searching a big area quickly. St Bernards, German Shepherds, and Labrador Retrievers excel at this, although they say the Bloodhound is the best at finding people. Good article on this in Avalanche Situations
- Drones are helping enormously; over 750 people have been searched and rescued using Drone technology. Some have Avalanche Transceiver technology built in; speed here is crucial.
- Trekking in Nepal drones is becoming as crucial as having crampons and Down Suits. Some drones can even fly essential medicines up to stricken climbers.
- The disadvantages of high-up drones are altitude drains, fast batteries, and short flight times. Game Changer Drones in the Himalayas
- Mountain Rescue Paid Professionals and Volunteers: There are full-time SAR (Search and Rescue) paid Professionals, and there are volunteers who are often mountain guides and local people. See the list of countries below and links to their Mountain Rescue Services.
Check the small print on the Policy.
It is often stipulated that the costs covered by the insurance for Mountain Rescue are no longer covered 72 hours after you have first called for assistance.
This is OK in most cases but not great if you are not found for over three days: you will start incurring the costs yourself. However, in most cases, Rescue is completed within 72 hours.
- Mountain Rescue to hospital and clinic is covered.
- If you are rescued, and perhaps you did not need to be, then it is doubtful the travel insurance will cover this cost.
- Mountain Recovery is often mentioned as part of the cover – this is where you are not searched for but recovered from the mountain.
- With skiing and snowboarding, you do get the cases whereby a skier or snowboarder asks for rescue when they are not confident of being able to descend the mountain from where they are.
- They are too scared and panicked as they have taken on more than they can do. Travel Insurance policies with Mountain Rescue cover will not pay out on this. You must know your limitations.
Different Rescue Organisations
Provided by volunteers – the RAF also help.
See MREW Mountain Rescue in England and Wales.
Mountain Rescue Scotland and RAFMRS (Royal Air Force Mountain Rescue Service)
The High Mountain rescue platoons are run by the Gendarmerie (a paramilitary force) and the Police.
There are 16 platoons for High Mountian Rescue and 6 for 5 for Mountain Rescue.
260 Gendarmeries are involved.
90% of rescues are done by air.
Five Parks in the Rockies and mountain rescue is a free service performed by the Parks Canada visitor Mountain rescuers.
Again done by the Parks by Professional Mountain Rescue personnel; this is a speciality within Search and Rescue.
As Alpine Sports are the national sport of Austria, the Mountain Rescue profession is revered; this is run by professionals at the
13,000 Mountain rescuers are available 24 hours a day. With 230 dogs available.
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