Insurance: Protect yourself

Types of Insurance Coverage

Accidents and unforeseen events happen every year to 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. Unforeseen events or circumstances are not just limited to personal medical conditions or injuries. The threat of a virus pandemic, world-wide travel restrictions, or force majeure events can also result in guests having to cancel their trip or make major changes to their travel plans at the last minute.

It likely goes without saying that we cannot be liable for any of the expenses that might result from a cancelled trip or an evacuation. Furthermore, all of our fees are non-refundable. We also do not give credit for future trips for a canceled trip. A canceled trip results in a complete forfeit of all of your payments. Our no-refunds policy means that we can keep prices lower as well as protect ourselves as we enter contracts with huts, backcountry lodges, boat charter companies, porters, cooks, food service professionals, other guides; and additionally we have our administrative and other business costs to consider.

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?” These days our trips range in price from around $3000 to $8000 CAD.

So we strongly urge you to protect yourself with a suitable insurance policy that covers you adequately for your needs and individual financial risk tolerance.

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

  1. We highly recommend Traveller Emergency Medical / Rescue / Evacuation Services coverage with Global Rescue Services (click link to enroll). This is the most bulletproof remote and extreme locations rescue insurance available worldwide. GR specializes in Emergency Medical and Evacuation/Rescue insurance and does not provide trip cancellation/interruption coverage. This insurance is available to all of our clients regardless of nationality or residence.
  2. Global Rescue also offers a “Trip Cancellation for Any Reason” coverage through IMG (pretty incredible, although it comes at a price) as well as standard Trip Cancellation packages (click for a comprehensive information package). Note that IMG’s standard packages do NOT cover pandemics or force majeure situations.
  3. Another option is with World Nomads, who 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 do NOT cover pandemics or force majeure situations.
  4. If you are a Canadian resident seeking Travel Insurance including Trip Cancellation, Trip Interruption and Emergency Medical insurance be sure to get a quote from Lifestyle Insurance who are resellers for TuGo insurance, which is highly recommended and extremely reliable.  For example, TuGo is one of the few insurers that is covering cancellations resulting from the Covid-19 travel advisories (and not just illness). Like all insurance companies, they removed Covid-19-related coverage for new policies effective March 5, and they may well tighten up their policies relating to pandemics and force majeure events in the future. So please check with them for their current policy details going forward.
  5. Automobile Association insurance is often available on an annual basis at a reasonable fee, and may cover these kinds of trips. Again, check with your association to be sure of the details. BCAA and AMA insurance policies are also covering trip cancellations resulting from Covid-19 travel advisories.
  6. 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. All this said, our clients have had good success with making claims from credit card companies.