Thursday, February 26, 2009

Backpacking Insurance

Backpacking Insurance

Having the right backpacking gear and supplies, good maps, and a safety procedure organized before you start your backpacking adventure is only one aspect of backpacker safety. Did you know you can purchase special backpackers travel insurance?

As with any kind of insurance, there are limitations and exclusions. So let's get right down to the nitty-gritty. Exactly what IS covered by backpacking insurance?

1. Lost backpack or other luggage
Of course it is a good idea to keep your backpack or other luggage locked in a secure cabinet when you are at base camp before or after your backpacking trek. And you should keep your backpack in the tent with you each night to reduce the risk of loss.

2. Stolen valuables
Even though a backpacker travels light, there are still valuable things that can be stolen when you are off your guard in a foreign country - such as your traveler's checks, jewelry, and special backpacking equipment.

3. Missed flight
If you miss a flight due to no fault of your own, a good backpacking insurance policy will absorb the loss for you. First try to get the airlines to handle it, but if that fails contact your backpacking insurance agent for assistance.

4. Personal injury due to no fault of your own
As with all travel insurance, your injuries will be covered as long as you do not engage in careless behavior. Because backpacking insurance is designed for adventurous travelers, it is good to take advantage of the special policies written explicitly for this segment of the traveling public.

Backpacking Insurance is designed to cover you for unexpected emergencies that occur in the course of any normal adventurous holiday. Backpacking insurance generally doesn't cover you for certain things:

1.Medical conditions that existed before your travel begins
Cost incurred due to these conditions are not covered

2. Deliberately putting your life in danger
Backpacking Insurance will not cover you if you put yourself in extreme situations where survival is unlikely or injury is highly likely.

3. Claims involving alcohol or drugs
Backpacking Insurance companies use this as often as possible in order to not pay a claim, from their point of view - when drunk you take extra risks, you're not in control - keep to legal levels of alcohol and use common sense.

4. Illegal Activities
If you're involved in any activity that is illegal, the backpacking insurance company will not cover you.

Now let me share an adventure in which we all wished we did have some backpacking insurance. It was in the Rocky Mountains and I was a part of a volunteer work crew, doing trail repair. We all backpacked up into Rocky Mountain National Park and set up tents beside a ski shelter. From our basecamp we did trail repair, and replaced fire rings and grates at the campsites, and also put a new roof on the shelter. Now any one of those things could have been dangerous in itself but that is not where the danger actually lay.

The scenery was fantastic, and on our day off our team leader offered to take us to go rappelling. We jumped at the chance! Well wouldn't you know it, one of our team dislocated a shoulder while rappelling. Now mind you, we were all using ropes and locking caribeeners and we had enough people there to be safe and we were safe! Our team leader was an experienced rappeller, and he was as surprised as the rest of us when Jim cried out in pain. It took eight of us to get him down that mountain on a stretcher. We were so high up and so far in, that each person carrying the stretcher needed to have a relief person. That was a mighty painful ride on the stretcher for Jim, and I am sure betting he wished he had backpacking insurance that day! Back in town it was an ambulance ride to the hospital and x-rays and who knows what else. Even when you think you are being safe, accidents have a way of happening.

So those are the do's and don'ts of backpackers travel insurance. Of course I hope nobody ever has to use their backpacking insurance, but it is prudent to purchase some before your next backpacking adventure.

Always read the small print - it's all there!