Author : kissanime
Publish Date : 2021-03-26 11:23:27

At the end of January 2018, the international media reported on the difficult rescue of French climber Elisabeth Revol and the death of her rope companion on Nanga Parbat, an 8,126-meter mountain located in the Himalayas. They did not have an appropriate insurance policy, and therefore the helicopters which were to go in search of them had only taken off late, after the payment to the company in charge of the relief of $ 40,000 in cash, collected in a hurry.

Some had denounced the slowness of aid and the prohibitive prices of the operation. Beyond the controversy, several questions remain. Is it possible for a Himalayan climber to get insurance? At what price? Are the promised services there?

We propose to answer these questions with which all climbers of the extreme are confronted, to review the possible assurances for the ascent of a summit of 8000 meters or more, the threshold of access to the zone known as of the death. ( death zone ).

Like the extreme mountaineer, the insurer also takes considerable risks. He has always considered classical mountaineering to be a dangerous sporting activity. This one, over the period 2000-2012 and in Switzerland alone, at an altitude almost twice as low as the “8000” Himalayans, recorded 32 deaths on average per year, that is to say, a percentage of 17% which overhangs, so to speak. the rates of 0.27% and 0.1% achieved by football and ice hockey. Also, the 14 mountains of more than 8000 meters are located in the Himalayan and Karakoram massifs, shared between India, Pakistan, Nepal, and China, in areas devoid of infrastructure suitable for relief unlike Europe and North America.


Death insurance

The first possible coverage is death insurance. However, classic temporary death insurance excludes dangerous sports activities. A Himalayan expedition must therefore be the subject of a dedicated clause or a subscription to specific death insurance. You must request a personalized study by several death insurance experts. It should be noted that insurance does not apply in the event of terrorism as during the Nanga Parbat massacre.

How to calculate a death insurance premium for mountaineering?

For the calculation of the pure premium, the insurer uses the traditional guarantees of a temporary while taking into account the risk of excess mortality. It is based on the death statistics that he establishes himself:

  • As the ascent of the Himalayan summits is subject to the purchase of a permit everywhere, the number of deaths per mountain since the first ascent has been established. The names of the deceased, their age, nationality, route of ascent, and cause of death are also available for each mountain. The incidence of gender and ascension season can also be measured

For Nepal, a database updated every six months lists the expeditions made in this country since 1905 by precisely listing the population of climbers, deaths, causes of death, etc., for more than 450 mountains. , especially at low altitudes (between 5,000 and 6,000 meters). However, secondary mortality does not appear clearly.

The insurer, therefore, has relatively reliable data sources. It will be able to measure the significant drop in fatal accidents on the Himalayan summits over the past twenty years, probably due to weather routing, equipment, the existence of cartography and satellite photos, and the improvement of techniques for acclimatization to the management (one “altitude carrier” for 1.4 mountaineers since 1986), the choice of standard routes.

It may take into account the personal profile of the insured, in particular his experience, even if this is not a guarantee since many experienced mountaineers have died during the ascent or descent of an "8000".

The insurer is therefore increasingly able to quantify the risk of death with precision.

There remains the case of native guides and altitude workers. Since 2014, those in Nepal are insured for a death benefit of $ 16,400. Mountaineers contribute indirectly through the permit granted. About 5% goes to a support fund.

In Pakistan, the expedition must provide local personnel with a national company: 100,000 rupees ($ 900) for the liaison officer and the mountain guide, 50,000 rupees for the others.

In addition to death insurance, funeral insurance can be offered. However, it is often inapplicable, the bodies of people who died at 7000 meters being left behind.

Mountaineering insurance

Then comes the second important guarantee, the Mountaineering insurance.

By this we mean the grouping of costs:

  • of research
  • rescue
  • transport to a hospital structure
  • medical and hospital costs
  • medical repatriation

You have to be very attentive to the difference established between the actual rescue services, which only take care of you from a hospital structure and mountain search operations.

Should and can we be insured?

In Nepal, insurance has become de facto compulsory. It is now forbidden from 2018 to undertake a solo ascent. It will be necessary to go through the network of guide companies who systematically require evacuation insurance and often even medical cover.

Which insurer to turn to?

For the subscription to an insurance policy, in the USA, residents and they alone often opt for Travelex or the American Alpine Club (which for a premium of only $ 7,500 covers the evacuation of the climber until Everest base camp at 5400 meters).

As an example for Everest, the cost is as follows:

  • Evacuation Insurance $ 70 (American Alpine Club) - ~ $ 500 (Global Rescue / Travelex)
  • Medical coverage $ 500
  • Emergency insurance for any reason with medical insurance and cancellation cover - $ 3,000 (Travelex)
  • Evacuation by private helicopter from Everest southside - $ 5,000 - $ 20,000 depending on the point of departure and arrival (not available on the north side, ie Tibet)

The amount of the premium depends largely on the age, length of the shipment, and total costs.

In Europe, some sports associations can theoretically ensure a rise but they are often planned for Europe, a vigilant study of benefits and exclusions is advised. The FFCAM insurance (CAF) seems a priori satisfactory with the world option (+ 87 €) but it is better to check the quality of the assistance promised to the Himalayan shipping agencies, the best judges in the matter by their experience. . They know and are used to dealing with embassies, hospitals and clinics meeting international standards as well as emergency assistance organizations. Note that in the event of disability, you must also take out a Life Accident Guarantee (GAV), with daily allowances during the total temporary disability.

Note the special but not insignificant case of indigenous personnel. Indeed, the number of people to be solicited during an expedition can go up to more than ten and the expedition fully covers the costs, in particular of the helicopter. In Nepal, medical insurance is $ 4,000. In Pakistan, daily allowances equal to 50% of the daily wage are paid.

cancellation insurance

As for the cancellation (or interruption) insurance, it allows you to recover the shipping costs incurred. Thus, in 2014 and 2015 (year of the earthquake), when the authorized period of the ascent of Everest was prematurely declared closed by the Nepalese government, 100% of the expenses incurred could be reimbursed.

The sums involved are considerable and vary widely depending on the agency. For example, for the ascent of Everest:

  • Western agencies: between $ 40,000 and $ 65,000 all inclusive.
  • Nepalese companies: from $ 10,000 to $ 25,000 (depending on the number of climbers), with a lower level of service but still substantial amounts.
  • RMI and Dave Hahn: over $ 115,000.


There is no single conventional model of the non-life insurance type allowing pricing of Mountain-type guarantees (excluding death). In general, the calculation of the pure premium is based on a frequency type model multiplied by the average cost.

Research costs

For the average cost, the calculation of the search costs (which are based mainly on the use of helicopters) is quite simple because fixed in advance, and the duration of an intervention is more or less known. However, conditions differ from country to country.

  • Nepal: Evacuation by helicopter has become very efficient if the weather conditions are favorable.
  • Tibet: the evacuation is delicate because helicopters are prohibited, mutual aid is between climbers, or sometimes by the installers of fixed ropes.
  • Pakistan: The only helicopters and pilots available are military. The army makes its machines and crews profitable by entrusting all trade missions to one of its subsidiaries, Askari Aviation. The rates are $ 3,818 / hour with a maximum flight altitude of 7,000 meters (rather 5,000 if the conditions are difficult). Helicopters always fly in pairs and must return to their base before dark. You must register in advance by depositing $ 15,000 (recoverable if there is no intervention, deduction of $ 300 for administrative fees) supplemented by a financial guarantee from your insurance and a guarantee from your embassy. The company, in deficit following the rise of terrorism and the fall in the number of foreign climbers,

We see in particular that for issues of lift of these devices, any mountaineer in difficulty at more than 6500/7000 meters can therefore only rely on himself or members of his expedition.

Medical fees

For medical expenses, companies keep records of their bodily injuries over the years and can determine the cost, duration, and severity (frostbite, amputations, mountain sickness, fracture, head trauma, etc.)

Frequency of accidents

The frequency of accidents can be estimated in particular using the Himalayan Database, which gives precise indications of accidents by shipment. It can then be modulated according to the profile of the subscriber (age, sports club, experience, sex, etc.) using corrective coefficients.

In the end, whatever the summit, the rules set by the insurer must be followed to the letter to avoid a denial of compensation.


Since the first ascent of Everest in 1953 and K2 in 1954, Himalayanism has symbolically represented the valorization and democratization of adventure in our society [Ehrenberg, 1991], which in return requires increasing control of threats. physical through standards, regulations, and insurance coverage, mandatory or optional.

As the risk is always present in very high altitude mountaineering, safety has become a major concern for the protagonists, materialized by all kinds of means of protection: ultramodern technologies, belay techniques, medicine, pharmacology ... and insurance policies. insurance.


Category : sports

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