Expedition insurance: why I’m ditching BMC for another provider

Insurance? Yawn, it must be time to watch another cookery show on TV. Yes, a boring subject, I know, but bear with me. For one reason or another I’ve talked quite a bit about insurance for climbing Sherpas this year, but how about expedition insurance for good old western climbers – is that up to the job?

For several years now Christmas has been the time to renew my annual travel insurance, and since I do two or three mountaineering expeditions every year it’s felt natural to insure myself with the British Mountaineering Council (BMC). This year I won’t be, and this post is all about why and where I’ll be shopping around.

BMC Insurance: great in theory, not so good in practice
BMC Insurance: great in theory, not so good in practice

Every year I’ve checked the level of cover provided and paid my renewal fee, confident I will be covered should anything go wrong with my trip. But the thing about insurance is, you never really know how good the policy is until you have to make a claim. Most of the time you pay for a service that you don’t receive, and only when it’s time to call upon the service do you find out whether it’s any good.

For years I haven’t had to make a claim, but this year I had to claim twice for things I believed I was covered for. Despite providing the necessary proof and paperwork, both times BMC’s insurance broker CSAL, who act on behalf of their insurer ACE Europe, refused my claim due to clauses in the small print I wasn’t aware of, though one of these was later overturned after appealing to BMC.

BMC issues two documents when you take out a policy with them:

  • A 2 page policy schedule listing the circumstances (cancellation, accident, medical expenses, loss of property, etc.) and amount of cover for each.
  • A 35 page policy document written in legalese which contains the small print about precisely when the cover will be paid.

As I discovered this second document (written in language too impenetrable for customers to read) contains a treasure trove of clauses which enable them to wriggle out of paying. To put it more simply, many of the things I thought I was covered for after reading document 1, I really wasn’t. While this may put BMC and their underwriters in a strong legal position, it’s a bit like making a promise with your fingers crossed behind your back. In my opinion it’s fundamentally dishonest and misleading, and unsurprisingly I’m not keen to give money to people I find deceitful.

Does this sound harsh, and are other insurers any better? Here are my two case studies, and you can judge for yourself.

Earlier this year I paid $20,000 USD to join a two month expedition to climb 8516m Lhotse in Nepal. I paid BMC around £900 GBP for a separate insurance policy to cover me for the expedition (BMC’s annual policy only covers altitudes up to 6500m). A few days after trekking to base camp, a fatal avalanche in the Khumbu Icefall led to a strike by climbing Sherpas, and all expeditions were cancelled. On 26 April, less than halfway through the expedition, having not set foot on the mountain, we packed up and went home.

According to my BMC policy schedule I was covered for curtailment up to £5000 GBP. Although this was only a fraction of the cost of the expedition, it was some consolation. I filled in the necessary paperwork and filed my claim, but a few days later CSAL wrote back saying they wouldn’t provide a single penny. Page 22 of the policy document listed all the situations where I was covered for curtailment and – bugger me backwards with a curtain rod – Sherpa strike wasn’t mentioned, so they didn’t have to pay.

A strike by Sherpas cut short my expedition to Lhotse before we set foot on the mountain (Photo: Ricardo Peña)
A strike by Sherpas cut short my expedition to Lhotse before we set foot on the mountain (Photo: Ricardo Peña)

A month or so later I needed to buy more insurance for my expedition to Peru, since I was again hoping to climb above 6500m. Since I’d already paid £1200 to BMC that year (for my annual policy and for my Lhotse expedition) and their service was found wanting, I didn’t want to pay them any more, and I wrote and told them why I would be insuring with one of their competitors. They said they were reviewing my claim and, much to my surprise, a few days later I received another letter from CSAL to say the £5000 would be paid after all.

What happened? This year’s Sherpa strike on Everest was high profile, attracting much attention in the media and on mountaineering websites. Hundreds of climbers were affected, many of whom were insured with BMC. I expect I wasn’t the only person who complained: to refuse all of us would have been very bad business for them, and to lose BMC as a client would have been bad business for their insurer (or so I thought). Business reasons then, but I was grateful for the outcome and would have been happy renewing my BMC policy had it ended there.

In September I was climbing Mulanje in Malawi when Ethiopian Airlines rescheduled our flight from Lilongwe to Lusaka two days before it was due to depart. They tried to contact me, but there was no phone reception or internet connection in the mountain huts we were staying in (mountaineers have this problem often). We turned up for our flight in good time, only to learn it had departed that morning and there would not be another for two days. As Edita and I both had international flights from Lusaka back to Europe the following day we had no option but to hire taxis and travel overland across Malawi and Zambia to get there in time.

No problem, I thought. I was insured for a missed departure up to £500, and as long as I had receipts for the taxis we were covered. The second taxi from Chipata on the Zambian border back to Lusaka was a somewhat hair-raising experience (not that I have much hair to raise). On learning I needed a receipt for my insurance claim the driver’s eyes lit up and he tried to charge us $1000. We didn’t have many options, but we managed to negotiate him down to $580 for an eight hour night-time journey along unlit roads that saw us arriving in Lusaka at 2am. Often he was driving with one hand on the wheel and another on his phone as he argued with another potential customer, driving a few metres behind a big truck spewing up dust onto our windscreen. I tried to sleep and forget about where I was, but the noise and the emergency braking didn’t make it easy. But we made it back to Lusaka without getting squished in a remote part of Zambia, and caught our international flights a few hours later.

Back home in the UK I put in my insurance claim, and a few days later CSAL replied with their get-out clause. Page 26 of the policy document said the following:

“We will pay up to the amount stated in the Policy … to enable you to reach … Your Home Country if You arrive too late at Your final point of international departure to Your Home Country on Your return Journey to board the Public Transport on which You are booked to travel to Your Home Country [sic].”

The mountain huts on Mulanje were very comfortable, but they lacked phone reception or internet connectivity, crucial if your airline changes your flight at the last minute and you're insured with BMC (Photo: Edita Nichols)
The mountain huts on Mulanje were very comfortable, but they lacked phone reception or internet connectivity, crucial if your airline changes your flight at the last minute and you’re insured with BMC (Photo: Edita Nichols)

Yes, I know it sounds like it was written by an inebriated leprechaun and contains a number of unnecessary capitals, but if you’ve just nodded off you can WAKE UP NOW. In plain English it’s saying I was only covered for flights to or from the UK. Had I made my leisurely way across Zambia and missed my flight back home they would have paid in part for that flight, if not for the flight from Lilongwe.

But why would I only need to be covered for flights out of the UK? I bought a worldwide insurance policy because I travel all over the world on flights that go to and from all sorts of different countries. In my search for compensation I learned about the EU Denied Boarding Regulation which would have obliged Ethiopian Airlines to compensate me for the missed flight had we been flying to any airport in the European Union. In other words I was covered by law for flights in and out of the UK, so the missed flight clause in my insurance policy was actually worthless. To charge me for something I get for free anyway is alarmingly close to being a scam.

Although I’ve found BMC’s staff helpful and well-intentioned, and I can see the sense in a dedicated insurance policy for mountaineers, their policy document cannot be trusted, and gives their underwriter too many excuses for not paying. The prospect of having a get-out clause thrown back at me if I’m faced with a bill in thousands for medical expenses or helicopter evacuation doesn’t bear thinking about.

Are changes afoot?

As things transpired this was no hollow fear on my part. I reached this conclusion entirely based on my own experience, but in the course of researching this post I came across this thread in the UKClimbing Forums from April this year about two climbers who called out the mountain rescue services while they were climbing in the Alps. One was insured by the Austrian Alpine Club (AAC) and the other by BMC. While AAC paid the claim promptly, BMC’s insurer refused, and the climber was faced with a £2500 bill. The reason? The wording in BMC’s policy which meant most genuine rescues wouldn’t fit the criteria.

In a recent interview with the outdoor website Grough, BMC’s chief executive Dave Turnbull said the incident caused BMC to fall out “big time” with their insurer to the extent that they are ending their relationship and intend to change the wording in the policy to match that of AAC’s.

This is good news, and means BMC will be worth considering again in the future, but until it happens, insure yourself with someone else!

BMC's mountaineering insurance has recently been found wanting for search and rescue
BMC’s mountaineering insurance has recently been found wanting for search and rescue

Other mountaineering insurance providers

So what are the alternatives? Next year is likely to be a work year for me, without too many expeditions, so I have a few months to find a suitable annual policy to replace the one I used to have with BMC. In any case, BMC limiting their annual policies to mountains under 6500m meant I was often having to pay for a separate single trip policy anyway. These weren’t easy to apply for and required me to complete a long questionnaire about expedition logistics that, being a commercial client, I rarely knew how to answer.

I would be grateful for feedback from any of you about your own expedition insurance. Here are some of the alternatives I’ll be researching over the coming months. Sorry if this is a bit UK-centric. I would also be interested in hearing about providers further afield.

  • Dogtag. UK travel insurance provider who cover a range of adventure sports, including high altitude mountaineering. I’ve used them a couple of times, both in Peru and for my expedition to the north side of Everest in 2012. Quite cheap, and quick and easy to obtain insurance online, but I never had to put in a claim, so I don’t know whether they’re any better than BMC. They also offer an annual multi trip high altitude policy.
  • Snowcard. UK travel insurance provider primarily covering winter sports. More expensive than Dogtag for mountaineering insurance, but a little cheaper than BMC. Also offer an annual multi trip high altitude policy.
  • World Nomads. Worldwide travel insurance provider for adventure activities, though mountaineering is limited to 4500m. Currently no annual multi trip cover available, but according to their website they will be introducing it in the future.
  • Allianz. Worldwide travel insurance provider. Their standard cover does not include mountaineering, but I know of at least one person who insured their Everest expedition with them and received compensation after the Sherpa strike, so it seems coverage is available, if not via an online quote.
  • Global Rescue. US company who have been recommended by many people for emergency rescue, evacuation and medical services (and why wouldn’t they, with a name that makes them sound like the Thunderbirds). They do not provide standard travel insurance cover such as trip cancellation, missed flights, loss of property, etc. so you would need to buy an ordinary non-mountaineering policy in addition.
  • Austrian Alpine Club (UK). Despite their origin the AAC is open to climbers outside Austria and even have a UK branch. One of the benefits of membership, which costs a maximum of £43.50 a year depending on your age, is worldwide mountain rescue insurance. Like Global Rescue you need to buy separate travel insurance to cover other circumstances, but definitely worth considering.

For the benefit of UK climbers I’ve done a little comparison of prices for the three main UK mountaineering insurance providers. These have been obtained by submitting the online forms on their websites, but are only indicative. Not all policies are like-for-like and you may get slight variations in price if you submit the forms yourself. For example, amount of cover may differ; some require your age; BMC and Snowcard both define high altitude as over 6500m, while Dogtag defines it as over 4000m.

Provider Single trip alpine (21 days) Single trip high altitude (45 days) Annual multi trip alpine Annual multi trip high altitude
Dogtag £127.43 £235.95 £185.60 £339.41
Snowcard £199.59 £699.25 £259.60 £644.35
BMC £174.73 £919.95 £322.06 N/A

And in next week’s post I’ll be comparing accountants specialising in tax advice for mountain guides … no, I’m only joking … come back!

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25 thoughts on “Expedition insurance: why I’m ditching BMC for another provider

  • December 3, 2014 at 5:07 pm

    I have just returned from Nepal where we trekked the Manaslu Circuit and I also decided to ditch my BMC Insurance which seemed very high ue to my age (70). I eventually found a company Globelink who were half the price. Anyway off we set , me confident of a rescue if things went wrong and low and behold things did. As we started to cross the Larke La Pass (5190m) I became ill my speech was slurred and I did not have any inner body strength. I do not know whether it was altitude sickness or my diabetes playing up, but after a mars bar my speech did become better. Santhos, our guide wanted us to return to Samdo so that he could arrange help I said no we would carry on and descend to Bimthang because there was only a two day walkout from there. Anyway as luck would have it there was a climbing team in the local mountains and their porters were resting in a nearby hut. One of these guys offered to carry me across after a short while I told him I would walk and he supported me. Once we got to the end of the pass I was able to descend unaided. I paid the guy the 100dollars that he requested, but my point being that no matter how much Insurance I would have paid there was no help available in my hour of need. We did suggest to the trekking company in Kathmandu that we thought trekkers would be willing to pay more in order that their guides could carry satellite phones but he said that it was doubtful if even satellite phones would work in that area.

  • December 3, 2014 at 9:01 pm

    This is a great post, Mark. On Broad Peak, when my partner was severely injured, we awaited evacuation for 6 long days but eventually Global Rescue came through with two Pakistani Army Helicopters and evacuated both of us. They considered me his caregiver, and eventually they bought first class tickets for both of us to return to the States. I will admit those were long and dark days and I questioned whether or not we had wasted our money. In the end, I can confirm it was well spent. I can’t speak to their policy on expedition cancellation for reasons mentioned above, though.

  • December 4, 2014 at 3:19 am

    Great post Mark. I intend to renew my Global Rescue insurance and bear any costs due to travel problems. The flight change fees and such sting but it beats the insurance premiums and hassle dealing with crooked travel insurance companies. Your post highlighted some if those hassles. Well done and great decision on your part. See you in Nepal this spring?

  • December 4, 2014 at 9:39 pm

    Thanks, guys. I’ve heard a lot of good feedback about Global Rescue and you’ve both provided some more. Definitely worth considering, even for those of us outside the US. I’m unsure of my travel plans for next year, but I made it to Nepal twice this year so it’s unlikely I’ll be there in the spring, mainly because I need to work and earn money again to pay for all these travels and insurance premiums! Good luck if you’re going to be back on Everest again, Patrick.

    Regarding assistance in remote places, I don’t know all the details of your particular story, Mike, but while your guide should have carried a sat phone to use in emergencies (they certainly work as far as Samagaon!) it sounds like your trekking agency behaved appropriately by evacuating you on foot. Calling out mountain rescue services should only ever be used as the option of last resort and for genuine emergencies. Altitude sickness on its own is not a good enough reason, since in most cases you can solve the problem simply by descending. IMHO there are far too many helicopter evacuations in Nepal for instances where it really isn’t necessary. This pushes up insurance premiums for everyone and increases the chances of claims being refused for genuine cases.

  • December 7, 2014 at 12:04 pm

    Mark, we regularly run trips in the Khumbu with clients needing cover to 6000m. Since 2010 I have used and recommended AAC. Another global option is iSOS. (International SOS). Great post.

  • December 8, 2014 at 10:20 pm

    Hi Mark, very interesting! Not that I am ever likely to need it, I get altitude sickness looking out from my balcony! But I think with any insurance you have to look around, the longer you stay with a company the more they charge you. For some reason they cannot offer you a better deal unless you are a new customer. Hurry up and get travelling again I love reading your blogs, and of course am waiting for the “big book”! take care Bev x

  • December 12, 2014 at 8:37 am

    A super interesting read. I am currently trying to find insurance for a trip, and have been hitting many road blocks. Just as I was thinking that the BMC may have a policy that could be suitable I come across your blog post. I would never have thought that connecting flights would not have been covered. So, this is something else that I can add to my long list of things I need to ask another insurance company.
    As far as I have been able to find out, DogTag also do not cover connecting flights. Plus, they use Mondial which after a google search seems to have universally bad reviews and claims experiences.
    Snowcard and Allinaz don’t offer cover for what I need.
    I need to investigate the wording on World Nomad’s policies, but I am not hopeful. A quick google search has brought up many complaints in regard to insurance claims that we poorly handled and wriggled out of.

  • December 12, 2014 at 6:48 pm

    I think what you’re saying is they all seem to be as sneaky as each other when it comes to claiming anything back!

    I’ve decided to join the Austrian Alpine Club, so for my next trip I just have a bog standard Easyjet (Allianz) travel insurancy policy to cover me for the basics, with the AAC rescue cover in the event of an emergency. This covers to 6000m, so I’ll still need to find something else for my next big high altitude expedition.

    Whether any of this proves to be any good only time will tell, and fingers crossed I don’t need to put it to the test. Good luck with your own search – it sounds like you’re being much more diligent than I ever was!

  • February 23, 2015 at 6:34 pm

    An interesting post Mark, and I will be looking more carefully. I’ve always used BMC as their policies “seemed” to offer the right cover at a good cost.

    Interestingly, I was surprised to find that for Aconcagua the same 6,500 limit applied and the BMC solution? Take out their skiing policy which didnt have that limit.
    I was doubtful, but I did have to claim on this policy after becoming unwell. I was able to claim for the unscheduled trip out of the park, and the extra hotel days I had to pay for.

    My own experience was that the BMC policy paid out quickly, but there was a nervous few days waiting for the payment.

    With all UK insurers, you always have the option of complaining to the FCA if you feel a claim has been rejected unfairly. This is always worth a go if you think that a normal individual would expect to be covered.

    I would have renewed no questions asked with BMC, but I think I will be checking out the actual insurer behind the policy before my next trip.

  • June 5, 2015 at 10:02 pm

    It may very well be that BMC’s new Insurers/Underwriters aren’t any better than the ones replaced. Acting on the FCO’s advice against all but essential travel to Nepal (and when was trekking essential?)I cancelled my trip to Nepal and managed to recover most of the monies already paid to airlines, Trekking Company etc. Then I submitted a claim for the irrecoverable expense to Fogg Travel Insurance Services Ltd. who are currently handling such claims. My claim was denied on the basis of an entirely irrelevant Section of the policy that referred to illness, incarceration, stolen passports etc. Apparently the staff at Fogg’s had no idea that the BMC had published information on the internet that persons insured through them who were already in Nepal and anxious to leave would have their curtailment expenses covered which made it crystal clear, surely, that persons like me who decided not to go there at all would also be covered as indeed it is under a different Section, number eight. I have asked for my claim to be reconsidered and await the decision. This is a simple, clear cut matter and the only aspect for discussion should have been regarding detail of the exact amount to be paid out.Speaking generally, it is a common tactic for insurers to both misrepresent and refute the initial claim made in the presumption, often accurate, that the claimant will ‘throw in the towel’ and this has all the appearance of what happened with my claim.I’ve written a letter of complaint to the BMC President to make him aware of the situation and to suggest that he constructively intervene because there will be many more similar claims being made and the reputation of the BMC is at stake.

  • June 8, 2015 at 6:17 pm

    Thanks for the heads up, Ian. Sorry to hear about your bad experience and I hope you get it resolved on appeal.

    I didn’t know BMC had changed their underwriter already. I notice they’re promoting the fact on their website. I feel a bit sorry for them, as I’m sure they want to provide an honest service to their members, but it seems their reputation is being tarnished by less scrupulous suppliers. I hope they have an exit clause for their latest one if your experience is typical. Sadly the strapline they are using “Insurance you can trust” doesn’t ring true for me.

    I’ve been looking for expedition insurance for my trip to Pik Lenin next month. I’ll hold off on using BMC again until I hear good feedback about them.

  • June 28, 2015 at 6:45 am

    To update my previous comments, the Fogg Travel Insurance Service that I referred to and who were dealing with my claim on behalf of the BMC Insurance and their underwriters ProSight have finally paid up. This was after two prior rejections of my claim and after, they say, obtaining legal advice, and before I had submitted the matter to the FSO for adjudication. There may well be hundreds, perhaps thousands of people insured with the BMC and like me act on the FCO advice against all but essential travel to Nepal. So the only advice that I can give is not to expect that any initial insurance claim will be met but rather the opposite and that persistence will be required to successfully resolve matters.

  • July 2, 2015 at 12:28 pm

    Thanks for providing an update, Ian. I’m glad you got your cover eventually, and sorry to hear it was so much hassle.

    Luckily I don’t have to claim very often, so I don’t know how typical this scenario is of the insurance industry, but IMHO it’s pretty dishonest. The conclusion as far as this blog post is concerned is that for mountains and mountaineering activities BMC appears to be no different from any other insurance provider.

  • July 8, 2015 at 10:28 pm

    Great blog, I myself am now looking for a new insurer after dealing with my second claim in two years (this is the first time I have ever claimed on any insurance in my life!). Last year I was also on Everest (in fact I think we met on the trail walking in). Whilst I was unlucky enough to be there during the Avalanche, sherpa strikes etc, the BMC insurance paid out to my team very promptly and without fuss. I think this was because one of my teams Sherpas died in the Avalanche and five others were evacuated injured, so there was no chance of us carrying on. After this I had absolute faith in the BMC insurance.

    This year I returned to Everest on the basis that lightning shouldn’t strike twice in the same place. No such luck. This year was even worse. I found myself, along with the rest of my team, right in the middle of the Avalanche that destroyed base camp. One of my team mates died, three were badly injured and 5 of our Sherpas were also injured and evacuated by helicopter and we lost the majority of our gear. I hope this is the worst experience I will ever have to live through. I am still arguing with Fogg travel, the insurers behind the BMC insurance for a pay out under the curtailment clause of my policy. After last year it appears they tightened this clause up, so now if a team mate or guide dies or is injured you are not allowed to curtail your trip unless said person is from the same country as you. This seems crazy, if your guide was to die, surely it would be dangerous to carry on and quite frankly I don’t care what nationality my team mates are, if someone passes away I can’t imagine carrying on. They have paid out after a lot of pressure under the journey disruption clause (£2,500) but are still seeking legal advice on the curtailment section, having rejected my claim twice to date. The max they will ever pay out is £5,000 anyway, but given I paid almost £900 for my policy I would expect it to pay out. I am saddened by this experience, I would note the new insurers do seem to be more relaxed about pre existing medical conditions (up front at least). i know other members of my team have had issues with Fogg but that is their tale to tell. Obviously you only hear about insurers when they refuse to pay out and people kick up a fuss, I have to say though I am very surprised by the report on the BMC website at the moment about a girl who got her pay out under curtailment while she was in the Khumbu valley. As far as I am aware EBC suffered the worst atrocities in the valley that day so am currently confused how she got such special treatment that none of my team seem to of successfully managed. Sorry rather a long winded report, but I will watch your blog with interest to figure how where to find insurance for my next climb. I know a lot of people use Global Rescue combined with medical insurance, whilst that doesn’t provide the cancellation and baggage cover, I am not sure it’s worth paying the extra for a clause that may or may not pay out.

  • July 9, 2015 at 4:32 pm

    Very sorry to hear you were one of the many people to go through it all twice, Selina. I know it was a much more frightening experience this year than last. I remember meeting you with Denis as we were leaving Lobuche. I’m guessing that you were climbing with Jagged Globe again, and that the fatality in your team was therefore the Google engineer Dan Fredinburg.

    Do I understand from your comment that BMC’s policy does not cover curtailment in the event of natural disaster, hence the reason you are having to quibble with the insurer over the nationality of one of the victims?

    If this is true then it’s another example of a misleading one-page policy summary causing people to believe they are covered when they are not. You wouldn’t know about this important information unless you read a 30-page policy document written in language that is very difficult for ordinary customers to understand.

    It would also make a mockery of BMC’s recent attempts to convince us they are able to provide insurance for the autumn trekking season in Nepal (https://www.thebmc.co.uk/autumn-trekking-in-nepal-will-bmc-travel-insurance-cover-me). With aftershocks still occurring most people would want to ensure they are covered in the event of an earthquake.

    On the other hand, if the policy does cover natural disasters, then they should just pay up the £5,000 and stop compounding your misery, since you paid a large premium and clearly had your trip curtailed through no fault of your own. It does their reputation no good to make things so difficult.

    Good luck with pursuing your claim. Keep trying, and it’s worth rating both BMC and Fogg on Trustpilot, as quite a few people take notice of their ratings.

    Based on your and Ian’s feedback my advice to anyone else would be not to trust BMC to insure them for the autumn trekking session in Nepal unless they are able to settle their claims for the spring one.

    I have insured myself with Dogtag for my forthcoming expedition to Peak Lenin. I don’t know whether they are any better, but they charge considerably less for more or less the same cover, and BMC have been a disappointment.

    And good luck with your dream of climbing Everest. I hope you get another chance some day.

  • July 10, 2015 at 5:32 pm

    Yes Mark you are correct, I was climbing with Dan. As a small team we all become good friends so the loss of a team member hits the team harder than say if I was climbing with one of the big American teams, hence this whole shenanigans with the insurers being so ridiculous. In answer to your question, no the BMC don’t cover cancellation as a result of natural disasters – only if you or your Travelling Companions (as narrowly defined) die or get injured. They should actually probably include a cover in the instance that the Foreign office change their travel recommendations on a country. Very interesting that Ian managed to get his claim settled. Will have to see if I can find the information on the internet about the BMC covering curtailment expenses! Would be very interesting to hear from people who were insured with other insurers on Everest this year and how their claims went. I know that all the Brits on our team were covered by BMC and we were the worst hit British team in camp as far as I am aware, but I some of the guys up at Camp One may of been covered by others (I think we were the only Brits under the Avalanche).

    Enjoy Peak Lenin!

  • July 10, 2015 at 5:59 pm

    Thanks, Selina. Good luck with your claim and let us know how you get on.

    Peak Lenin has also had its share of earthquakes. Fingers crossed for several reasons!

  • August 6, 2015 at 1:17 pm

    So by way of update thought I would let you know how I have got on….The bad news is that the BMC policy underwritten by Fogg Travel have refused to pay out finally after 2.5 months for cancellation and told me I need to go through their formal complaint procedure. They have paid out under travel disruption, this is £2,500 rather than £5,000 for cancellation. My point here is one of my team mates died, there was no way we would of carried on our expedition regardless of whatever else was going on around us. A couple of points to note for anyone considering taking out BMC insurance – 1. If you are climbing with a guide or a team mate that you do not have a very strong connection to (even if they are of the same nationality as you) and they die or are injured, the BMC policy will not pay out. 2. I have lost a lot of faith in them paying out under other conditions if a claim under these was required.

    Looking on the bright side I don’t want everyone to think all insurers are bad. I have had the easiest experience possible with Aviva who have paid out for the missing baggage which was not covered by the BMC policy without any deductions within 5 days of my claim going in. Aviva are my home insurer so to be honest I would expect their understanding of what happened and the ease with which they should of paid out to be worse than BMC, not the case. Thank you Aviva!

  • August 11, 2015 at 10:12 am

    Hi Selina,

    Thanks for coming back. I’m really sorry and disappointed to hear that. It looks like I will be staying with Dogtag and Austrian Alpine Club for now then.

    It’s a shame we have such a dearth of mountaineering insurance providers here in the UK. I have heard favourable reports about Allianz and Travelex too, but unfortunately they do not insure in the UK. I’m also told BUPA used to provide a good policy which included mountaineering, but have recently terminated this service.

    Best of luck with your future adventures!


  • January 21, 2016 at 1:21 pm

    Hello, I am currently researching insurance options for a climbing trip to Greenland and I’ve found your post and everyone’s comments very interesting and informative.
    Like a lot of people I’ve used BMC for years (and taken out annual alpine level insurances without claiming), trusting (ha, ha!) that the policy they promoted would deliver as expected. (‘Trust’ was a key reason for ignoring other much cheaper options).
    The Greenland trip has given me particular reason to look around and be more diligent. It seems that considering separate Search and Rescue and ordinary travel insurance may be the way to go.
    Thanks very much (to all) for putting this information out.

  • March 15, 2016 at 10:15 am

    I insured via BMC.
    They refused to pay my claim using small print, so I issued proceedings and they paid up
    What annoyed me is their attitude and then the fact that they carried out credit checks on me after i made a claim
    I spoke to them asking why? they refused to answer my request or give me the chairman’s details to write to him directly.
    I am referring the matter to the Information commissioners Office.
    They are a disgrace !

  • May 20, 2016 at 11:55 pm

    I found this page with the help of Google… I though Canadian Alpine Club insurance – which just got a brand new rider of 300CAD for mountaineering trip was expensive…. So for under 200 pounds per high altitude trip with 500k in emergency founding.

    Looks like all you guys are overpaying a LOT. And I am a cheapskate.

    On the other hand I have no clue about claim payout – ACC advertises that they do pay out in case of emergency but that is something I don’t actually ever want to use.

  • January 11, 2018 at 2:32 pm

    Thanks to you all……most helpful comments and food for thought. Down the years I have always lnsured with BMC . Thankfully I have not had to claim……yet!

  • November 14, 2018 at 11:45 am

    Hi Guys,

    A trekker here, I have the AAC cover which believe takes me up to 6,000 m and includes heli rescue, but what standard insurance should i couple it with? Does the standard one have to also include trekking cover, or not necessary as covered by AAC?

    Sorry am confused…

  • November 14, 2018 at 5:57 pm

    If I remember rightly, the Austrian Alpine Club covers search and rescue only, as long as you stay below 6,000m, but it’s best to check these things with AAC themselves.

    Closing these comments now as the post is an old one and somewhat out of date.

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