What is Trekking Insurance?

Donn Saylor

Trekking insurance is a type of travel insurance specifically designed for adventure travelers should unforeseen circumstances arise. A trekking vacation involves challenging physical activity that holds the possibility — however remote — of accident and injury. Such an active vacation and its potential risks necessitate the need for insurance coverage that protects vacationers from exorbitant medical costs, rescue, evacuation, and repatriation.

A group of trekkers.
A group of trekkers.

Insurance companies offer varying types of trekking insurance, but not all travelers are required to carry it. For trekkers taking part in a group expedition with an adventure tourism company, the hosting company typically requires all participants carry some kind of trekking insurance. For those going solo, insurance is not traditionally mandatory, but it can certainly provide a level of protection and assurance for the journey.

Trekking insurance may cover the costs of emergency helicopter rescue services.
Trekking insurance may cover the costs of emergency helicopter rescue services.

Traditional trekking insurance options cover trip cancellation and trip disruption; emergency medical and dental procedures; and any lost, damaged, or stolen baggage or sporting equipment necessary for the journey. Each person on the expedition must carry proof of insurance, as well as a passport, in case of an emergency. It is widely advised that trekkers obtain insurance in their home country with a reputable company.

In some cases, a traveler may need to be airlifted back to his or her home country for medical intervention. Obtaining trekking insurance with a repatriation option guarantees that the injured traveler can be returned home safely to receive care. This option is not available on all plans and may be available for an additional cost.

Some trekking insurance plans contain elevation restrictions, meaning travelers are not covered for circumstances that occur on trekking routes above a stated elevation. This is a key consideration a traveler should bear in mind when deciding on the right insurance plan as things like helicopter rescue, air ambulances, and medical costs can be particularly expensive. Evacuation coverage is an important aspect to any trekking insurance policy and can save a trekker much time and headache should the need for evacuation present itself.

Certain international trekking hot spots have their own requirements for travelers. In Nepal and Tibet, for example, the laws dictate that all trekking insurance policies purchased by travelers must include emergency helicopter rescue service. Trekkers venturing to this part of the world are advised to choose insurance carriers who are available around the clock with experienced translators, as helicopter rescue service will not be dispatched until approval is given by the insurance company.

Luggage insurance is a type of insurance policy travelers purchase to protect against loss of or damage to baggage during transit.
Luggage insurance is a type of insurance policy travelers purchase to protect against loss of or damage to baggage during transit.

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Discussion Comments


Can anyone who has experience with this kind of insurance recommend the best company to go through to purchase it? I am going on a 2 week long backpacking trip in a month and this article has got me nervous that I have not taken every precaution I should. I would really like to get a trekking insurance policy but I don't even know where to start looking.


I have been going on different kinds of outdoor adventures for decades now and I always make it a point to take out trekking insurance. This is because I ran into some trouble at the top of a mountain about 10 years a go and trekking insurance was instrumental in getting me out of it.

Here is what happened. I was hiking in the Appalachians with a friend of mine when a huge storm blew in. We were very disoriented and the winds were really high and I ended up falling and breaking my leg. My friend was hurt at the same time, not as badly but badly enough that he could not get to me to treat the injury. He was able to contact help bu the only way they could reach me is by helicopter. I was flown off the mountain and taken to the nearest hospital which was a significant distance away.

As you can imagine a trip in a helicopter is not cheap. The bill with my medical expenses ran to 10s of thousands of dollars. Luckily I had trekking insurance which covered the entire cost. There was not even any hassles. I would have been in financial ruin without it. Now I never set out on a trip into the outdoors without making sure that my policy is up to date.


I think trekking insurance just makes sense. Think about, high adventure equals high risk. The longer and more exotic your trip is the more likely it is that something can go wrong. And it is often the case that the thing that goes wrong will be extremely expensive if you were to pay out of pocket. I think its just common sense to carry this kind of insurance. If you have a car you get it insured. If you have an extremely fast and expensive race car you would definitely get it insured.


Trekking is one of those things that is fun and challenging -- but you should think ahead in case something goes wrong. Trekking goes in the same category as sky diving to me -- it's better safe than sorry when it comes to insurance.

Short treks are nothing to worry about, but if you plan to do that trek that you see as your greatest challenge -- it's insurance time. Make sure that you have insurance and that everything is correct before you go trekking. Double check all of your paper work too.

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