There is an excess of £1500 applied to all Helicopter Rescue claims in Nepal.
Why is the Excess so high?
Trekking in Nepal has never been more popular. But recently there has been a massive surge in the number of helicopter rescues. Most rescues arise where a climber either has a serious accident or needs urgent hospitalisation through acute mountain sickness (AMS) due to a too rapid an exposure to low oxygen at high elevation. The simplest remedy is to descend 500m and remain there until the symptoms disappear. This should happen in most cases and should certainly not require a helicopter rescue. Recently, however, around 70% of helicopter rescues are down to AMS.
It appears that widescale fraud in the Nepalese trekking industry has seen helicopter operators, hospitals, guides, trekking companies and even trekkers themselves colluding to extort large sums of money from insurers through unnecessary claims for helicopter rescues and hospital treatment. If substantial kick-backs can be earned should a client need a rescue then there is an incentive for unscrupulous guides/trekking company to deliberately incur AMS by taking clients up too high too fast, or by adding baking soda to meals to induce vomiting and diarrhoea. Sometimes clients can be offered a bribe or a free helicopter ride if they don’t fancy trekking back down the mountain. They are then coached in what to tell their insurers.
Consequently, many insurers have either withdrawn from providing cover for trekkers to Nepal or have been forced to whack up the premiums. So it is important for all trekkers to Nepal to be aware of the situation and follow this advice:
- Always book your trek through a reputable company.
- Ensure that your trekking itinerary gains altitude slowly. Do not exceed 300m per day, with a rest day for every 1000m of ascent.
- Never ignore the onset of altitude sickness. Always descend 500m or, if not possible, stay put.
Don't be drawn into any scam. Insurance fraud is a crime and adds to the cost of your holiday through added premiums.
Here is an article published regarding Nepal: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/01/25/world/asia/nepal-everest-insurers-fraud.html