Having specialist insurance for rock climbing is critical, as is having the right equipment, training and preparation to minimize the need for that insurance. Cover yourself in every way and you, your climbing buddies and the rock face should stay firm friends.
Whether heading for the beach or the rock face, nobody goes on holiday expecting to get injured. If you are unfortunate enough to need medical assistance while on holiday, treatment abroad can cost thousands. Despite this risk, research undertaken by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in May 2013 showed that just 50% of Brits checked their insurance policy closely enough to see if it included risky pursuits yet two thirds admitted taking part in such activity. This is even worse when you consider that 24% of people went abroad last year with no insurance at all.
With a broken hip as a result of a fall in Spain likely to cost around £15,000 in treatment and flights home, most people wouldn’t have the means to cover themselves should they be caught without adequate insurance. Outside the EU, you can multiply that figure many times over as an air ambulance from the USA could set you back in excess of £30,000, more if you need a doctor to accompany you. Fortunately over 80% of our insurance policies are for climbing holidays in Europe, so it’s only the minority (or the lucky few) that travel further afield to pursue their hobby and potentially expose themselves to such financial risk.
But it’s ok if something happens in Europe though? You’re covered in the same way you are at home, aren’t you? Well, no, not exactly. The myth that being fully covered if you are injured or taken ill within Europe stretches scarily wide, with over a quarter of people believing that having an EHIC means they’d be covered for all medical costs and for repatriation. You aren’t covered by an EHIC just for being a UK resident automatically either; you need to apply every five years and it generally provides you with reduced cost (and sometimes free) necessary state-provided healthcare but no more. If the country you’re travelling to doesn’t offer state care, then you get no care either. The premise of the EHIC is that you are entitled to the same healthcare that a resident of that country would receive – the EHIC is no NHS guarantee.
With popular climbing destinations such as Spain, Greece and Switzerland offering such varying degrees of state medical treatment, you’d be wise to do your research before you go, and have the relevant insurance cover in place for where your EHIC entitlement stops. In addition, there’s only so far that the Foreign and Commonwealth Office can help you. They can’t give you any money, pay your hospital bills or fly you home.
Having specialist insurance for pursuits such as rock climbing is critical, as is having the right equipment, training and preparation to minimize the need for that insurance. Sorting through the horror of historical incidents, it boils down to injuries tending to arise from two instances – hitting rock or hitting someone else. The speed at which you and rock, or you and another person, meet will clearly define the resultant injuries. Cover yourself in every way and you, your climbing buddies and the rock face should stay firm friends.