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The editor's blog:
How to get insurance for adventure holidays

Standard travel policies could leave you short of cover if you're going on an adventure holiday.

Whatever kind of holiday you’re planning, it’s important to get insurance before you go. But if your trip is something out of the ordinary, a standard travel policy could leave you dangerously short of cover.

Thrill-seekers who intend to spend their breaks climbing mountains or skiing down them, for example, are very unlikely to be covered by everyday holiday insurance.

So if you head off without the right policy and have an accident while taking part in some sort of extreme activity you could have your claim turned down, leaving you to foot an eye-watering medical bill.

Expedition cover

The popularity of winter sports mean that insurance dedicated to skiing trips is fairly common these days.

But if you’re embarking on a mountaineering trip, or an expedition to some far-flung corner of the world you will need a different type of cover altogether to ensure you’re protected against the different risks involved.

This is likely to be described as trekking or altitude-trekking insurance. The reason a tailored policy is needed for trips such as this is that spending time at altitude carries a risk of contracting altitude sickness due to a lack of oxygen, and also because expert medical help is unlikely to be immediately available in remote areas.

Your cover should include the cost of potentially life-saving services such as mountain rescue or air ambulance, for example.

What is considered high altitude?

You are likely to need this extra insurance if you’re spending time above roughly 5,000-6,500ft (1,500-2,000 metres). Trekking below this level may well be covered under a standard travel policy due to the lower risks but you should always check the small print as different insurers take different approaches.

In some cases you may be able to buy trekking cover as an add-on to standard holiday insurance, although some providers offer specialist policies.

Trips to even greater altitudes – say above 13,000ft (4,000 metres) – may require you to take out a higher grade of insurance, so make sure you know exactly how high you’ll be climbing before you apply.

Watch out for the small print

Trekking policies come with a variety of conditions and exclusions so ignore them at your peril.

Cover at altitude is only likely to apply provided you are on an organised trip, or accompanied by a local guide. If you are found to have caused or contributed to any accident, your claim could be turned down.

You may also face a higher excess on such policies, so the amount of each claim you have to pay for yourself is greater.

How to buy trekking insurance

A number of the providers on’s travel insurance panel offer altitude cover, including Big Blue Cover and MRL.

Just apply for a policy as normal through the site and then you can add the necessary extra cover direct from the insurer either by clicking through to their website, or by phone.

Let the provider know exactly what your trip entails and ask them to confirm what exclusions or conditions apply to your cover.

Sharon Flaherty

Sharon Flaherty

Sharon Flaherty was editor and head of content at from September 2009 to September 2013. She has contributed to The Financial Times Group, The Times, Daily Express, Guardian and Independent.

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