Insurance: Protect Yourself

Types of Insurance Coverage

Accidents and unforeseen events happen every year, affecting one or more of our clients. They may suffer an injury that prevents them from coming on the trip in the first place — after they have paid for flights and their ski touring trip. Or they might be injured during a day of touring — something as simple as an awkward fall might result in a sprained ankle that could keep them from finishing the week and require an evacuation to a hospital for treatment. Or a pandemic may result in a travel advisory preventing travel. It likely goes without saying that we cannot be held liable for any of the many unforeseen circumstances that may force you to change your plans unexpectedly.

These days our trips range in price from around $3000 to $8000 CAD. Ask yourself this question: “If I get sick, or if my government issues a travel advisory and I need to cancel my trip, am I OK with forfeiting the full cost of my trip?”

If the answer to this question is “No”, we strongly urge you to protect yourself with a suitable insurance policy that covers you adequately for your needs and individual financial risk tolerance. Please take the time to carefully read through our Payment and Booking Conditions document, as well as the “Fine Print” in the Application Form you sign to make sure you understand our policies with regards to cancelled trips.

There are several different classes of insurance coverage to consider when planning a ski touring trip with Sawback Alpine Adventures.

  1. Traveller Emergency Medical: This includes expenses as they relate to a medical emergency you encounter during the trip, e.g. an illness or injury , including emergency medical care at a hospital, medication, etc.
  2. Emergency Rescue / Evacuation Services: This includes emergency rescue/evacuation expenses (e.g. helicopter, ambulance, emergency services personnel etc.)
  3. Trip Cancellation & Trip Interruption: If you need to cancel your trip before the trip starts, or something happens during the trip that means you have to leave early (either a personal emergency you need to attend to at home or an injury) then this insurance will cover you for your related expenses and loss of your deposit and payments. Be sure to enquire with the insurance company about the full range of inclusions and exclusions and consider your options carefully.
  4. Adventure Sports Optional Coverage: All trips with Sawback Alpine Adventures are classified as “Adventure Sports” activities. Be sure that you get insurance that does not exclude adventure activities: i.e. mountaineering, backcountry ski touring and expeditionary type activities. Note that our Svalbard trips take place north of the Arctic circle at latitudes up to (max) 79.6°N; many insurance policies exclude travel above the Arctic circle, and we know of none which provide insurance north of 80°. 

Recommended Insurance Companies

It’s hard to recommend insurance companies, especially after the 2020 pandemic when insurance companies left all of us out to dry, contracts notwithstanding. Currently no insurance company I know of will cover covid-related cancellations with the exception of IMG (“Cancel for any reason”) which is so expensive that clients tend to prefer self-insuring (fees are +20% up front for a 75% refund, so it’s something to consider only if you think you’ll cancel more than once every two trips!). It is true, however, that insurance companies have historically paid out for standard (e.g. medical, trauma) situations. So long as you’re OK self-insuring for the covid factor here are a number of options to consider.

  1. Traveller Emergency Medical / Rescue / Evacuation Services coverage with Global Rescue Services (click link to enroll) has long been recognized as the most bulletproof remote and extreme locations rescue insurance available worldwide. This insurance is suitable for all of our trips including Svalbard.
  2. Global Rescue also offers a “Trip Cancellation for Any Reason” insurance (I assume covid is not excluded but be sure to check!) through IMG as well as standard Trip Cancellation packages (click for a comprehensive information package). Note that IMG’s standard packages have always clearly excluded pandemics or force majeure situations.
  3. World Nomads offers two combined Medical/Rescue/Trip cancellation packages with different coverage limits. The Standard package will not provide coverage for our trips, so you must choose the Explorer package, which covers adventure activities and covers trip cancellation costs up to $10,000. This is suitable for all of our trips including Svalbard. Note that World Nomads’ packages have always clearly excluded pandemics or force majeure situations. 
  4. If you are a Canadian resident you can get a quote from Lifestyle Insurance who are resellers for TuGo insurance. Unfortunately, Tugo is among the many insurers that refused to cover cancellations resulting from the Covid-19 pandemic, despite the fact that pandemics were not excluded.
  5. Automobile Association insurance is often available on an annual basis at a reasonable fee, and may cover these kinds of trips.
  6. Some company benefit plans have travel insurance bundled in. This could well be your cheapest option, but be sure to verify coverage (especially for our Arctic trips which take place above the Arctic Circle).
  7. Finally, many credit cards provide trip cancellation and trip interruption coverage. It is often limited / restricted and/or comes with exclusions, which may make it unsuitable for your situation. Cards also usually limit coverage amounts: $2500 is typical, and not quite enough to fully cover a week long backcountry ski lodge trip. Please ensure that you consult with your credit card company, preferably before paying for your trip with your credit card, to be sure that you have the coverage you need. Our clients have had good success with making claims from credit card companies for medical-related cancellations. Note, however, that none of our clients were succesful with credit card insurance claims relating to the 2020 pandemic.
Sawback Alpine Adventures
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