Trekking and hiking travel insurance
If you’re planning on hiking above altitudes of 2,000m or doing high-risk treks, you’ll probably need specialist travel insurance to provide the right cover.
- Standard travel insurance policies won’t usually cover hiking if it’s the sole purpose of your trip
- If you’ll be trekking at altitudes higher than 2,000m, you’ll need specific trekking cover
- When you’re taking out cover, check the maximum altitude of your trek is less than your insurer’s maximum altitude limit
- Check policy wording - some insurers may only cover recognised trekking routes and medical evacuations, not rescues due to poor weather conditions or getting lost
Does travel insurance cover hiking and trekking?
Trips that allow you to explore the outdoors and get back to nature are a popular option. But if you’re planning a walking adventure, it’s important to have the right cover.
While standard travel insurance will cover a number of leisure activities (which will differ between policies), you may only be insured to walk a certain distance or be limited to hiking up to a specific height.
If you want to go further or higher than your policy limit, you’ll either need to buy an add-on or take out separate specialist cover.
Why do I need trekking travel insurance?
Standard travel insurance won’t cover the high-risk activities that are associated with adventure travel, this includes things like hiking and trekking.
Reaching high-altitude views and taking part in hiking challenges usually require you to head to remote areas where urgent medical help or assistance is unlikely to be nearby.
Plus, covering long distances and trekking up mountains is riskier. And if you did need urgent attention, an air ambulance may be needed to take you to hospital.
So if hiking or trekking is the main reason for your trip, it’s likely you’ll need specialist insurance to get the cover you need.
When will I need to take out specialist cover?
You’ll need to check your policy to see what activities your travel insurance will cover you for, but you’ll usually require specialist cover for:
- Trekking, touring or mountaineering
- Reaching altitudes higher than 2,000m
- Multi-day treks that involve camping overnight
- Taking part in organised treks to high altitudes
- Using specialist equipment on your expedition
What does trekking insurance cover?
Specialist trekking insurance can include cover for:
- Trekking to high altitudes – this could even be for treks above 5,000m
- Walking up to a set maximum distance from the nearest town
- Different types of hikes, like hill walking, mountain trekking, and fell walking
- Accidents while trekking
- Illness and off-mountain accidents
- Medical evacuation
- Trip cancellation
- Gadget and equipment protection
- Lost, damaged or delayed baggage - Keep receipts for any replacement items you buy as a result of lost luggage. Your insurer may ask for them if you need to claim.
Exclusions on standard travel insurance
When you take out travel insurance it’s important to read the policy wording to understand what you will and won’t be covered for.
Common exclusions you can expect to find include:
Alcohol and drug misuse
If you have an accident or are injured as a result of drinking an excessive amount of alcohol or taking illegal or recreational drugs, you’re unlikely to be able to make a claim
Expensive items and equipment
Gadgets, designer clothes and specialist equipment are usually excluded from standard travel insurance. This is usually due to single-item limits, which is how much your insurer would be willing to pay out for one item. But you can often buy a policy add-on or take out separate cover for these
Not looking after your possessions
You won’t be covered if your belongings get stolen, lost or damaged during your trip because you’ve left them unattended or haven’t stored them securely
You’ll usually need to add extra cover or buy a separate specialist policy for potentially dangerous activities, like hiking or mountaineering at altitudes higher than 2,000m
High risk destinations
Most standard travel insurance policies won’t provide cover if you travel to destinations that the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) have advised against visiting
Events like floods, tornadoes, earthquakes, blizzards and avalanches that may affect your travel plans or cause injury may not be covered, so check your policy wording carefully
What types of specialist hiking and trekking travel insurance are available?
When you’re looking at specialist insurance, there are a few different options that can help provide the right level of cover:
Trekking travel insurance
This is for taking recognised trekking routes and adventurous treks in places like the Alps, Pyrenees and Mt Kilimanjaro up to an altitude of 5,000m
If your trek or climb is likely to be taking you to locations up to 6,500m you’ll need high-altitude cover
Specialist mountaineering insurance
If you’re an extreme trekker or mountaineer, this can cover you for tackling peaks higher than 6,500m, with some policies providing cover without altitude limits. It can also cover you for trekking lower peaks in more remote and inaccessible regions
What do I need to consider when taking out trekking insurance?
When you’re deciding which trekking insurance to take out, there are a few things you should consider:
Make sure your policy will cover you for the altitude you plan to reach. As a rule of thumb, choose a policy with a maximum altitude that’s higher than the altitude you’ll be trekking to
Some insurers will only cover you to walk or trek along recognised routes, so check the policy wording carefully as this may be problematic if an unexpected issue means you have to change course
Search and rescue
When you’re taking out trekking insurance, check that helicopter rescue is included. It might be classed as a necessary medical expense but may not be covered if a rescue was due to bad weather conditions or you have gotten lost.
Group or solo treks
Your cover may only be valid if your trek is part of an organised group trek. If you’re making your own trekking arrangements your trip may not be covered, so check your policy
Some treks could take longer to complete than your insurer will cover you for, so you may need to look at long-stay options, or annual multi-trip policies if you’re planning on more than one trek in a year
Will I be covered for trekking if I have a pre-existing medical condition?
It’s important to declare any health conditions you have when you’re taking out cover, so you don’t invalidate your policy.
You can usually still get cover, but you may need to pay more and in some cases, you’ll have to use a specialist insurer.
Tips for safe trekking
Share your trek plan
Before setting off, provide a trusted contact with your insurance details, trekking route and itinerary in case they need to organise emergency help for you
Get to know the signs of altitude sickness
Headaches, nausea and extreme tiredness can all be brought on by breathing thinner air at high altitudes
Do the right prep
Pack light and invest in good hiking boots and kit. Try to acclimatise by staying in an area at a higher altitude for at least two days before you start your hike
Carry a first aid kit
From bad blisters to more serious cuts and injuries, having the right medical kit can help to prevent infections and get you back on the track
Choose the right travel company
If you’ll be doing an organised trek, do your research and use a company with a good reputation