Travel insurance

What insurance do I need to climb 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 (it usually doubles it) and may even exclude you from being covered altogether. But if you don’t make this clear from the start and pay the lower premium 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, to read the small print of any insurance policy before buying one to protect you, and shop around too, for each insurance policy varies slightly from company to company. Details to consider include:

  • 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. In fact, I’ve never seen a helicopter land on Kili myself in all the years I’ve been climbing it; and the only time i know it happened was not in an emergency situation. Instead, it was to help bring up all the heavy cameras and other gear for the IMAX film about the mountain!

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 Kilimanjaro 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 – indeed more – when off the mountain than on it.

You are not going to contract malaria, for example, while you’re on the mountain (the anopheles mosquito that spreads it doesn’t go above 1200m, and you usually start your trek at least 1500m up the slopes). 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 apologies if some of these links are out of date. Despite our best efforts!

“Highly recommended”

“Perfect climb”

“Expert Guides”

 

Our Kilimanjaro Safety Standards

 

 

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