Unless you really like taking risks it is important to ensure that you have adequate insurance for any expedition. The level of risk that you personally are prepared to underwrite is clearly an individual thing, but emergency hospital care and repatriation are essential cover. (Note that equipment loss may be covered by your home contents policy).

You also need to be aware that irrespective of your insurance, emergency rescue may not be possible in some remote areas and you will need to have in place a process for self-help. For example, not every country has helicopters available for rescue and mountain rescue teams generally do not exist outside of western countries. In an emergency you are likely to have to evacuate yourselves to a road-head or place where mechanised transport is available.

So, what insurance is available? To a large extent this depends on where you are planning to go and what level of cover you require. The BMC will provide various levels of cover for everywhere except Antarctica, but it is expensive and you must ensure that you have selected the correct policy for your activity. A much cheaper option is the Austrian Alpine Club, but this is a basic policy that is limited to peaks below 6,000m and which excludes arctic regions. You should also be aware that this cover specifically excludes expeditions, which for many will be the purpose of their trip. It is posssible to augment this insurance however. It is relatively simple and cheap to extend the cover to include peaks above 6,000m provided that you are an Austrian Alpine Club member. This augmented insurance is called the Alpenverein Premium Einzelreiseschutz and, as the name implies, it covers single trips of varying duration from 5 days to 4 months. Costs vary according to the duration of the trip, the regional scope of the policy (Europe or worldwide) and whether the peaks to be attempted exceed 6,000m.Unfortunately, for legal reasons, the policy and its application are only available in German, although a dictionary should easily sort out the application's less obvious words. The policy itself is available online immediately payment is made and accepted. Note: if you are not using an in-country agent for support then a more complicated application form has to be completed. Assistance with this can be obtained by contacting the brokers (te: +43 (512) 238300, email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) who speak excellent English and are very helpful in my experience. Lastly, please be aware that the conditions of this policy changed in January 2018 and the insurers no longer like exploratory expeditions. One expedition had its cover cancelled at the last minute in 2018 when the insuring company learned that they were travelling over new ground. This revised policy does not really seem to make sense, but if you do choose to use this cover make sure that you check your objectives with the brokers. 

An alternative option that does not suffer the limitations imposed by the Austrian Alpine Club policy is available from Global Rescue. This is an American organisation that purports to effect rescue and repatriation, if necessary, from anywhere in the world. An annual policy costs $329. But note, this is NOT an insurance policy, it is a rescue package in the event of an emergency and any rescue must be notified to and organised by Global Rescue. It is used extensively by the American Alpine Club and was recommended to us by a former Club president. Fortunately it is a simple matter to add health and medical expenses using an add-on policy called Global Rescue Signature, available through iTravel Insured (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.). A one month term policy can be obtained for as little as $49 (in 2018). Both the Rescue and health policies can be obtained online and are sent electronically as soon as payment is received. It is also possible to talk to representatives if you need any clarification prior to purchase. It would be wise to do this, at least on first usage of the policies.

There are various other options available that are too numerous to list, but whichever you choose be careful to read ALL the small print as many policies automatically exclude expeditions where ropes and technical equipment are used or where skiing off-piste is involved.

Another consideration is age. Many policies will not insure anyone over 64. One company, HCC Atlas Travel, a part of the eGlobal Health Insurers Agency can be adapted to your level of risk and is reasonably priced, but do check its suitability and compare it with other providers before you make your decision.

As always with insurance policies: caveat emptor.


Members' experiences

Detailed below are the experiences of some AC members with unique or tricky insurance requirements. We hope that their advice may be of some guidance to those facing similar issues.

Hannah Baker’s experience in looking for insurance for Antarctica.

I contacted many insurers and this is what I came up with:

Atlas Insurance - Good value medical evacuation and repatriation up to $USD 300,000.

Dogtag - Check age - Not very good value insurance but does cover (to a high value) emergency evac and repat and Antarctica.

Antarctic Logistics and Expeditions (ALE) provide useful information about up-to-date insurance options.

Global Rescue now only cover to the 60th Parallel 

One useful thing to note is that, if you can supply a U.S. address, there are more options open to you. The broker, Global Health, I eventually got the Atlas insurance through was extremely helpful and worked for eglobal health.

I was also advised that for those who have top end (paid for) credit cards they get very good insurance benefits. I think the main problem with insurance is that it’s always changing - Dogtag for instance has policies that are only available for a couple of months at a time.


Jim Milledge on travel insurance for 82 yr olds :

I thought I would let you have my experience in getting Travel insurance as I get older (now 82) and acquire some medical history! Up to the age of 75 I had a wonderful deal via my Gold card LoydsTSB account. All year travel insurance for free. Since then I could only find insurance on a trip by trip basis. At first I used the same company that LloydsTSB used, AXA, but it was quite expensive.

More recently I used first Castle Insurance, also not cheap but better than AXA. (They are underwritten by AXA amongst others). I then moved onto InsureAndGo. The latter is a company that expanded very rapidly and has recently been taken over by a Spanish company, MAPFRE ASISTENCIA. Both the latter two companies say, on their web sites, “No age limit”.

I have had no experience of making a claim on these two companies. But I did make a small claim on AXA after fracturing my pelvis skiing in 2010 and they were very good in meeting it without fuss.! A 4 week holiday trekking in Nepal last year cost around £400, I think, with Insureandgo.