Adventure Insurance while Trekking in Nepal
This blog is based on our experience in Everest region. This is probably the most difficult decision that one will take with no correct information of claim procedure being available with the sellers and or their agents.
To take or not take insurance is an individual choice, however I will list down the reality in this region when it comes to insurance and will try addressing it with the right context. The reason people look for trekking period / adventure travel insurance in this reason is to mainly get a Helicopter rescue as that will be the most expensive need.
Currently there is World Nomads(https://www.worldnomads.com/), who sells these insurance that you can buy with just a click of button on your laptop. There are other not so known players, who have their agents in Kathmandu who sell such insurances as well. Trust me the buying experience from any of them will be very pleasant but that is not the purpose of buying such insurance. It is a peace of mind that one will buy and hope to cover life saving expenses.
When it comes to deliver to their promise, their elaborate procedure with no guarantee of service will make you helpless. This is not a wild allegation that I am making but true events that has unfolded before us in many of our trekking expeditions.
As recent as in November 2016, a lot of our group members had purchased insurance from World Nomads, as they had listed everything that is possibly needed to be covered on their website and policy. One of our members was really tired and was struggling to walk at the Everest Base Camp. He even used a human porter to be carried to Gorakhshep from Everest Base Camp as the helicopter cannot land in Base Camp.
This particular member called the customer care of World Nomads and spoke to them for over 20 minutes explaining his condition.
What World Nomad said was, you have to stay put there and only our doctor will see you and if he approves; then one of their affiliated helicopter rescue company will come and take him to Lukla. You must note, their doctor will confirm that this person needs helicopter and until then they won’t send and nor will they approve a claim if you went ahead on your own.
So when we asked when and how the doctor will come to Everest Base Camp? They had no idea about the lead time as the nearest hospital is at a good distance of trekking may be of 10 hours for a local porter. They had no clue and on top of it the 2 helicopter rescue companies who operate there with good service are not their affiliated service providers.
So we realized it is not worth waiting as that will only delay this person’s return to his home country. As we all knew in this case that few days of rest will make him fit again and he will be fine so even if their doctor had come after 2 or 3 days, he would have only said that the person is fit to walk or rest may cure him and no need of helicopter as he is not injured.
Anyway, the member in discussion called the available helicopter rescue service company and paid on his own and went to Lukla as he did not have time.
You need to understand this better; the insurance approval of helicopter rescue is subject to the kind of injury / health problem that one would have got. If it is not severe and basic rest may heal you, then they may not at all accept and also there seems to be a definite longer lead time for service to be approved and rescue being completed. Mainly because of the condition that their doctor will approve it first and then they will send their affiliated agency.
In the recent past, between 2015 and 16, we had 2 or 2 instances, where the members were really serious and went ahead with their own expenses and got a claim done and successfully got the reimbursed from World nomads.
In the recent past of 2016, we came across 2 instances where cashless helicopter rescue was provided when the members had contacted Worldnomad for the same.But one thing is very clear; insurance is very cumbersome and there is no clarity when it comes to helicopter rescue. However, some examples of 2016 makes it appear that several cases are getting either reimbursed or a cashless rescue is being provided by the insurance company.
Now the question is what should we do? I am listing below what I do and I have seen what other groups do.
Ensure you have 1600 USD or 1700 USD with you in any form, cash or international credit card.
Have an internationally accepted or claimable or claimable in home country health insurance. Have regular travel insurance.
You may also collect money as a group for this 1700 USD and just keep it with you guys. In case a need arises then you guys can spend it. Please note, this 1700 USD is for 3 people as the rescue helicopter will take 3 people in this fare and that is the minimum fare they charge to pick you from anywhere in this region and drop you at Lukla. You can read my blog on Rescue Services for more information on rescue services.
On the question of whether you should buy insurance from World Nomad or other similar insurance providers or their agents? Looking at the recent cases, it is not a bad idea to obtain the insurance as it costs about USD.100/- at max. But ensure, you have 1700 USD as back up ready with you.