If your idea of the perfect holiday is throwing yourself out of an aeroplane, jumping off a cliff with only an elasticated rope tied around your ankles or diving to the very depths of the ocean then you may want to consider investing in some pretty top notch travel insurance.
Most standard travel insurance policies cover against a basic level of activity, which could include sports such as archery and snorkelling or activities like camping and hiking. When you start to turn the risk factor up a bit with activities such as scuba diving and jet skiing and then turn it full blast for things like bungee jumping, base jumping, shark cage diving and canyoning, suddenly we’re talking about a whole other level of travel insurance, one that can only be covered by a very specialist insurer.
No matter what the activity, there will be an insurer out there who is willing to insure you and your belongings, but quite simply the riskier, crazier the activity the higher the cost of insurance. Caroline Lloyd from GoCompare.com advises, “Most policies will have a list of what is and isn’t covered in the documentation. It sounds boring, but it’s always worth a read before you hop on that jet-ski!” And one thing you must be careful of is that although certain activities may be covered by standard travel insurance, there could be limits and exclusions placed within them. For example, your policy may cover you for, scuba diving, but only to a set depth or you may be insured on your hiking holiday, but only if you stick to a set altitude. Remember to always read the terms and conditions thoroughly before taking part in any activity, regardless of its danger rating.
What will I be covered for?
Obviously each individual insurance policy will vary slightly in what they insure you against, but in general most extreme travel insurance policies will offer the following.
- Medical cover
- Emergency search and rescue
- Loss or damage of specialist equipment
- Personal liability
- Personal possessions
Even the most comprehensive of insurance policies may have exclusions. Here are some of the more common exclusions:
- Experience – You may need to prove that you have qualified to a certain level in the sport you take part in or that you will be in the presence of a qualified instructor.
- Pre-exisiting medical condition – An insurer is unlikely to cover you if you have a pre-existing medical condition that could be made worse by taking part in an extreme sport.
- Equipment – Some insurers will only insure you if they know you will be using the correct equipment and safety gear. For example, a claim may be invalid if it is discovered you weren’t wearing a safety helmet.
- Under the influence – If you are found to have been under the influence of alcohol or drugs when an accident occurred, your insurance claim will definitely be declined.
- Limits – There may be fixed limits on how far you can take an extreme sport. for example, you may only be covered up to a certain depth when scuba diving, up to a certain altitude when trekking or up to a certain height when mountain climbing.
Key things to consider when buying Extreme Sports Travel Insurance
First and foremost you need to know exactly what it is you need to be insured for, which means you need to establish what activity you’ll be taking part in, how long for, whereabouts you’ll be doing it and whether you are doing it as part of an organised group or on your own.
Whilst it is advisable, certainly with most other insurance products, to shop around and get the best deal, you shouldn’t mess about with extreme sports insurance and ultimately your main priority should be getting the absolute best quality cover you can! Yes, you will pay more for this type of insurance, but weigh it up with the potential costs you may face if something were to go wrong; things like overseas hospital, medical and treatment charges, transfer fees and loss of expensive equipment; and you can see that it is a price well worth paying.
Some extreme sport and adventure companies may offer you their own insurance as part of a package deal when you book the holiday, but beware, as this is unlikely to offer you the same degree of cover that your own policy would. You must also look out for less reputable companies who may convince you that a document you are signing is for insurance cover, when in actual fact it is a disclaimer relinquishing them from any responsibility should an accident occur.
If you haven’t planned on doing an extreme sport, but find that once your on holiday there is something you really want to try, make sure you are covered by your existing insurance policy. If you aren’t, it is worth enquiring as to whether you can pay a premium to cover you for a one off activity and if the answer is to the negative, then it is just not worth taking the risk.
Insurance aside, all extreme activities come with a risk and it is up to you to decide whether that risk is worth taking. You may also want to consider whether now would also be a good time to take out life insurance, income protection and health insurance, particular if you have dependents.
And finally, before you embark on your crazy adventure, be sure to find out the contact details of the local emergency services, let family members know where you are and most importantly of all have fun, but be careful!