Below we have highlighted the six main trekking insurance considerations you need to read before climbing Aconcagua.
1: Mountaineering Coverage
Standard travel insurance policies will have clauses in them that specifically exclude cover for mountaineering activities. This means that if you had one of these policies it would prove null and void if it transpired you were on a mountaineering expedition.
The definition of mountaineering used by travel insurers is generally very broad and encompasses the use of any mountaineering equipment like ropes, harnesses, ice axes and sometimes crampons. Even non-technical routes on Aconcagua, like the Normal Route, require the use of basic mountaineering equipment and hence standard travel insurance doesn’t cut it.
Your policy needs to explicitly cover for mountaineering activities. The recommended insurers below have products that cover mountaineering. We however still recommend you check the policy wording to see if there are any activity limitations.
2: Altitude Limitations
At just under 7,000m, Aconcagua is a very high mountain. Most standard insurance products will have altitude limitations, generally up to 4,000m or in some instances up to 6,000m. It is important to check that your policy has no limitations on altitude or will cover you up to at least 7,000m.
3: Emergency Evacuation and Medical Cover
At a minimum your park and climbing permit provides for emergency helicopter evacuation (this is usually only deployed in extreme cases) and basic medical treatment at the medical stations in the base camps. But beyond this you will not be covered for evacuation and medical treatment in Argentina. Evacuation by mule or if you wanted helicopter is very expensive and we recommend making sure your policy include helicopter evacuation and medical treatment in country. Some of the insurance recommendations below provide upgrades like Hospital of Choice.
Assuming you are not planing on having to be evacuated or receiving medical treatment, then probably the most important insurance policy consideration should be issues associated with cancelation or termination of your trip. Climbing Aconcagua is not a cheap exercise and if you need to cancel for whatever reason it is important that your policy covers you. Often there will be restrictions on the reasons for cancellation so make sure you look at these. Some of the insurance providers below provide upgrades for ‘cancellation for any reason’. If you fear that you might need to cancel for unknown reasons then it is worth upgrading for this cover.
3: Lost, Delayed or Stolen Baggage
There is nothing worse than arriving in a new country only to find that your baggage has been delayed, lost or worse, stolen. Make sure to get base coverage for these issues and if you plan to carry expensive equipment like cameras, specialist climbing equipment we recommend disclosing this to the provider. It will push your premium up but the additional coverage may be worth it if the cost of replacement is very high.
This is an unpleasant consideration, but nonetheless important. In the unlikely event that you don’t return alive from Aconcagua it is always a good idea to check that your policy covers repatriation. Without it the cost for your family to have your body returned home is very high.
Aconcagua Travel Insurance – Recommendations
Here are our recommendations on insurance providers for your Aconcagua expedition.
National Mountaineering Associations
In the first instance it is worth checking whether your national mountaineering association offers insurance with there membership fees. Many do. The ones that we know of who have insurance products that cover expeditions to Aconcagua are:
Austria and Europe General:Austrian Alpine Club (UK) (provides annual rescue and repatriation insurance). Limitations may apply for Aconcagua – check with AAC’s insurance provider
Travel Insurance Providers
This list is not exhaustive, but provides three travel insurance companies that we know have products that will cover mountaineering expeditions to Aconcagua. We nonetheless recommend that you read the small print on their policies and contact them directly if you have any questions.
Travel Guard are predominately US focused but do cover many other geographies. If you are not from the US then look at the top left of their website to see if they have a local operation in your country. The product you need to get is Travel Guard Adventure Sports Coverage. This gives you all the base plan benefits + mountaineering coverage without any altitude limitations. The coverage includes medical evacuation and repatriation up to $100,000 and cancellation / trip interruption up to $100,000 (this comes with limitations but you can add the upgrade ‘Cancel for any reason’ to remove any limitations). Other possible upgrades include: Hospital of Choice Evacuation Upgrade (this increases the evacuation limit to $1,000,000) and Additional Unforeseen Events Upgrade which waives any pre-existing medical conditions.
Snowcard provide adventure travel insurance in the UK. They separate their policy coverage into different activity categories (you can review them here). The activity category that will cover you for Aconcagua is called Pro Adventure. This level of cover is limited to professional guided trips, which unless you plan to do Aconcagua solo or without a guide, should be sufficient. Their insurance covers you for £10 million of medical and rescue insurance, along with the standard base plan benefits of any standard travel insurance policy.
Global Rescue provide specialist medical and emergency evacuation services through their unique membership programme. Basically these guys promise to move heaven and earth to provide medical evacuations to home hospitals and other specialist security and field rescue services. We have heard great things from adventurers around the globe who use Global Rescue, but would caveat that their membership needs to be used in conjunction with a standard travel policy to get coverage for things like trip cancellation etc. We recommend talking with the folks about your Aconcagua expedition before joining their membership scheme as it may not be the most affordable / suitable solution if you don’t travel regularly.