Are rock climbers covered by travel insurance? Find out which travel insurance brands cover rock climbing
There are many different styles and categories of rock climbing: traditional climbs, bouldering, free climbing and top roping. You can get travel insurance for some types and categories of climbs but not others.
Insurers do not provide cover for free climbing. However, it is possible to get travel insurance for rock climbing on graded routes. Here's what you need to know about getting insurance for climbing.
How can I get travel insurance for rock climbing?
Travel insurance for rock climbing is offered by a number of Australian travel insurers. Cover largely depends on:
- Type of climb. Some insurers will cover you for indoor climbs only, while other insurers have specific policies for alpine climbs and standard climbs.
- Approved routes. Cover is given for climbs on approved graded routes.
Who offers travel insurance that covers rock climbing?
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Common rock climbing travel insurance conditions
Rock climbing risks
- Slips and trips. Make sure you're wearing appropriate footwear when you climb.
- Fall from height. Make sure all participants go through a pre-climb briefing on belay and decent instructions and make sure their helmets are fitted correctly.
- Belaying skill. Provide anyone on belay with clear instructions prior to them taking hold of any ropes.
- Falling objects. Before the climb, identify any loose rocks or objects.
- Entanglement. Anyone climbing should remove any loose clothing or jewellery to avoid it getting caught during the climb.
- Descending too fast. Be sure to brief both those climbing and on belay about appropriate decent speeds.
Rock climbing travel insurance conditions
While the brands listed above do offer cover for rock climbing, these policies include a number of conditions about how and where the climb is conducted. Common conditions in rock climbing travel insurance policies include:
- Climbs must be on previously graded routes
- Climbers must have the appropriate level of experience necessary for the intended climb
- Outdoor climbs and sports climbs must be conducted under the supervision of a professional
- The climb must use protection from a lead climber, a top rope or fixed protection
- Rock climbing in the Antarctic and Arctic regions is excluded from cover
Travel insurance for rock climbing conditions are in place to create a controlled and safe rock climbing environment to reduce the risk of injury or death to the climber. For example, Insure4less rock climbing travel insurance requires you to wear a climbing helmet while on the rock face.
Why do I need to tell my insurers?
You have a duty of disclosure to the insurer about your rock climbing plans and experience. You need to provide details about your climbing experience, whether you’ve had any rock climbing training and whether you’re a member of a rock climbing club or association. You may also need to outline your rock climbing activities for the next 12 months.
As part of your duty of disclosure, you also need to list any medical conditions that may hinder your ability to carry out your planned climb.
Will I pay more for my rock climbing insurance?
High risk adventure sports like rock climbing are not usually covered by standard travel insurance policies. Many insurers require you to purchase rock climbing insurance as additional cover.
For example, World Nomads requires you purchase additional cover for outdoor rock climbing. The level 3 upgrade covers many different types of rock climbing including bouldering with no equipment or ropes, outdoor climbing and sports climbing using bolted protection as well as indoor rock climbing. Soloing or free climbing is excluded from cover.
Insure4less has a specific rock climbing plan that you need to buy separately to the standard single trip travel insurance policy. You need to submit an application for rock climbing cover and Insure4less may ask questions about the intended climb before calculating your premium.
How do I disclose my rock climbing?
In most cases, you will be provided with a questionnaire to complete and return to the insurance provider. If you purchase a standard travel insurance policy, you may be asked to provide your contact details so you can be contacted at a later point to answer some questions.
Tips to stay safe when you’re rock climbing
- Identify possible risks. Before you undertake any climb, it's important to assess the location for any possible hazards.
- Don't climb if it's not safe to do so. This should go without saying but after you have done your risk assessment don't climb if there are clear dangers.
- Wear a helmet. You should always wear a helmet when you’re on a rock face.
- Enough rope. Ensure your rope is long enough to reach the top and back again. It’s always good practice to tie a stopper knot at the end of the rope so you don’t fall.
- Rope position. Make sure you keep your rope over the top of your leg and not underneath it. This will prevent you from being flipped on your head.
- Local knowledge. If you’re climbing overseas, make sure you have the right contact numbers for emergency services.
- Go with experienced climbers if you’re a beginner. This may be a requirement to get travel insurance for rock climbing, make sure you go out with someone with experience and training.
- Tell someone where you're going. Make sure you have told someone where you are planning to climb, just in case something goes wrong.
- Bring a radio. If you're climbing in the bush, take a radio with you in case fo emergency.
What to do if you injure yourself overseas
Emergency rescue, medical and repatriation costs are covered by most travel insurance policies for rock climbing. As part of your due diligence preparing for your climb, you should have the appropriate emergency contact numbers for the authorities in the area you plan to climb.
Your travel insurance provider will have a variety of numbers to call in the event you’re in an emergency situation and you need assistance. These numbers are listed in your product disclosure statement. Make sure the local authorities are also informed of any incidents; this will often be a condition of receiving payments for treatment and repatriation costs.