Insurance for Climbing Trips

  • ‘Nah dude, you don’t need climbing-specific insurance. Just tell them you were out hiking or whatever and they’ll cover it.’
  • ‘Pretty sure your credit card has insurance.’
  • ‘You’re just going sport climbing, don’t worry about it.’

These are the most common three things I’ve heard any time I ask around for suggestions on where to get insurance for international climbing trips. For some context for readers from the U.S. of A., here in Canada we can do pretty much whatever dumb shit that we want to ourselves and it won’t cost us anything to get put back together if we get hurt and have to go to the hospital. Sadly, the same can’t be said of going to the US to climb. I seem to make a few trips there every year and am always looking for someone to insure me in case I get injured, as I definitely don’t want a big hospital bill for medical services should something go wrong.

I never bought into the whole ‘tell them you’re hiking’ plan. Sure, it’s great if you sprain your ankle or break a wrist or something. But what happens if you take a whipper and knock yourself unconscious and get taken to the hospital in your shoes and harness? I doubt that any amount of trying to convince the ER doctor to not tell anyone that you were climbing would work.

Searching online to find a policy is a bit frustrating. There are a few posts out talking about how hard it is to find insurance for extreme sports but no real suggestions so I thought I’d put this post together. I’ve since gone through a couple of providers. I used to use either CAA or MEC but I found out when planning my trip to Indian Creek that neither of these providers cover climbing accidents anymore so I was forced to find someone else.

Luckily, I ended up finding insurance through the Alpine Club of Canada. It’s a bit tricky to find on their website but if you search for ‘insurance’ you’ll end up at the right page. I was really impressed with their coverage. It’s not like most others that are a general travel insurance policy that simply doesn’t exclude climbing. The policy options here seem like they were designed with climbing trips and expeditions in mind. I bought a family, multi-trip policy for my girlfriend and I that covers 30 days of travel, hospital stays, body repatriation, helicopter extractions, taxis, etc. etc. for about $200. This seems steep when you compare it to the $30 you might pay for a week out of country but we travel a fair bit and knowing that those specific items are included gives me more piece of mind. Also, I like the convenience of not having to go get coverage every time I travel – I do it once a year and don’t worry about it ever again.

So, if you have half a brain and realize the importance of insurance for climbing trips, stop wasting your time and go with the Alpine Club of Canada. I’m sure there are analogous clubs in other countries as well.

– Matt

5 thoughts on “Insurance for Climbing Trips

  1. A note for US climbers – the American Alpine Club (AAC) has a similar program. Membership comes with $10,000 of rescue benefits/insurance, and additional policies are available that can be stacked for more coverage.

  2. I think most of the nationally based alpine clubs in Europe offer similar benefits to their members. I’m a member of the German Alpine Club (Deutscher Alpenverein), and I have all kinds of insurances (rescue, liability, alpinism-related accident) that apply both in Germany and abroad. It really gives me peace of mind to know that I’m not going to be financially ruined if an adventure goes south.

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