Insurance for climbing Kilimanjaro

When buying insurance for climbing Kilimanjaro you must make clear to the insurer that you will be trekking on a very big mountain. If you are going to be mountaineering and using ropes then you need to tell them that too. This will probably increase your premium and may even exclude you from being covered altogether. But if you don’t make this clear from the start you may find, should you have to make a claim, that you weren’t actually covered at all.

Do note, however, that it pays to bear in mind that you are not actually doing any climbing. You are just walking. In other words, you won’t be using any ropes, crampons or other climbing gear. The insurance company should know this – but many of the staff they employ don’t!

So do make this clear or they’ll be charging you a higher premium unnecessarily.

Remember, too, that you must read the small print of any insurance policy before buying one to protect you. In addition, it pays to shop around, for each insurance policy varies slightly from company to company.

Details to look out for in your travel policy for Kilimanjaro

  • How much is the deductible if you have to make a claim on your Kilimanjaro insurance?
  • Can the insurers pay for your hospital bills etc immediately, while you are still in Tanzania, or do you have to wait until you get home?
  • How long do you have before making a claim and what evidence do you require (hospital bills, police reports etc)?
  • Does your policy include mountain rescue services, helicopter call-out and so forth? If it doesn’t, don’t buy it!

That said, remember that helicopter rescue is very limited on Kilimanjaro. For one thing, helicopters can fly only up to a certain altitude and can’t land anywhere on the Kibo summit (which is where you are likely to need helicopter rescue!). Secondly, by the time they’ve arrived, it may well be too late, particularly if you have collapsed due to altitude sickness.

So while it’s always worth having cover that includes helicopter rescue, it is likely to be of limited use. And if you do find yourself in a situation where helicopter rescue could come in useful, the chances are by the time they arrive you’ll either be: a) Dead. Or b) Bouncing down the slopes on a stretcher (which they keep at the ranger’s huts) to the KCMC hospital at the bottom of the mountain. Which would be the quickest way, anyway.

Covering Your Trip

As you’re probably aware, you must expect the premium for the entire trip to double when you mention that you are climbing Kilimanjaro, even though you will actually be trekking up the mountain for only a few days. However, you will need to be covered for your entire trip. There are just as many nasty things that can happen to you when off the mountain than on it. You are not going to contract malaria, for example, while you’re on the mountain. Theft becomes a much bigger issue away from the mountain too.

The following is a list of companies that offer insurance for Kilimanjaro. Note that these often change. One week a company offers insurance for Kilimanjaro, the next week it doesn’t. So we apologise if some of these links are out of date.

UK companies currently offering insurance for Kilimanjaro

The British Mountaineering Council You will need to join the BMC to claim insurance from them, but the insurance is cheap and comprehensive and there are lots of benefits if becoming a member. (This includes discounts in many outdoor/camping and trekking shops. Insurance for Kilimanjaro currently comes under their ‘Alpine & Ski’ cover.

US insurance providers for Kilimanjaro

Insurers in the States seem to change rapidly. Many of the ones we listed in the last edition of the guide book are no longer offering insurance for Kilimanjaro. Matters are further complicated by the fact that the insurance offered by companies can vary from state to state. In the past climbers have told us that they were able to buy insurance with one company. But when their friend tried he was unable to do so because he lived in another state! So do be careful who you book your insurance with. And it’s even more important to remember to read the small-print and go through the contract thoroughly.

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