Travel insurance for thru-hiking, is there such a thing? The issue I’m coming across in my search for appropriate cover is the definition between hiking and mountaineering. Apparently if you’re not carrying specialised equipment you’re just hiking, which means you’re covered. But if you’re not carrying specialised equipment (ice axe, crampons) aren’t you more likely to have an accident? The trail is the trail after all, how can they offer you cover for being less prepared?
I’ve spoken to 3 providers so far:
1. Simply Travel Insurance: The guy I spoke to was super friendly and very helpful. Their product disclosure statement (PDS) states that if you’re trekking or hiking over 3,000m but under 5,000m altitude, special condition 1 applies. These activities must be: (i) With a commercial operator; and (ii) Available to general public; and (iii) Not considered extreme risk; and (iv) Not require any special skills or a high level of fitness. The guy was honest and said I wouldn’t be covered and directed me to call 1 Cover Travel Insurance.
2. 1 Cover Travel Insurance: The girl I spoke to helped clarify the general exclusions in the PDS: Sport & Leisure – Your claim arises because you hunt, race (other than on foot), engage in open water sailing, play polo, go mountaineering or rock climbing using ropes or climbing equipment (other than for hiking). This is where carrying an ice axe or using crampons takes hiking to mountaineering status. Not covered!
3. WorldNomads.com: Even though this insurance is for ‘adventurous travellers’, there is still a question mark over if I’ll be covered while hiking the PCT. Hiking up to 6,000m is covered under additional level 2 cover but mountaineering is not covered at all. I’ve emailed them with the following information so the underwriter can make a final decision on whether they cover me or not:
I am attempting to thru-hike the Pacific Crest Trail (http://www.pcta.org/discover-the-trail/long-distance-hiking/) through California, Oregon and Washington from April 15 – September 15 2013. I will not be travelling with an organised group or guide. I want to ensure that the Level 2 cover will be adequate for hiking through the Sierra Nevada and Cascade Mountain ranges when there is still snow present and that this is not considered ‘mountaineering’. Some people take an ice axe or crampons to walk through the snow affected areas, however not everyone who completes the 5 month journey operates the same. Thanks for your clarification.
There really doesn’t seem to be much info out there on travel insurance for PCT hikers and it’s probably the only subject Yogi doesn’t cover in her handbook. I’ll report back once I hear back from World Nomads.