Rock climbing travel insurance

Rock climbing can be an exhilarating holiday activity. However, it’s important to make sure you’re prepared and covered before you set off. Read our guide on what to look for in your travel insurance policy.

Rock climbing can be an exhilarating holiday activity. However, it’s important to make sure you’re prepared and covered before you set off. Read our guide on what to look for in your travel insurance policy.

Coronavirus (COVID-19) update: please check the latest government travel advice that sets out what you need to do, if anything, before you travel abroad and before you return home. You should also check the latest travel advice and entry requirements for each country you visit or transit through. Travel rules can change at short notice, so check the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) for the latest information.

Josh Daniels
Travel Insurance expert
minute read
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Last Updated 8 APRIL 2022

Why do I need travel insurance for rock climbing?

As with any adventure sport activity, rock climbing has potential risks, so getting travel insurance is vital. Having cover means you have financial protection against the cost of medical care in case you get injured while climbing, and theft – which is important if you’re taking expensive climbing or camera equipment.

If your belongings are stolen, you’ll need to report this to the police to help you make a successful claim on your insurance. It’s important to check your policy’s single item limit – this is the most you can claim for any one item that’s lost or stolen. If you have something valued at more than this limit, you may be able to pay an additional premium to get it covered, or you can see if a gadget insurance policy will cover you overseas.

It’s a good idea to get travel insurance when you book your holiday so you can claim back the cost if you need to cancel your trip due to unforeseen circumstances, such as a bereavement.

Always make sure you’re aware of what’s included in a policy, along with any exclusions, before you buy.

Customers with more serious pre-existing medical conditions

If you have a serious health condition, the price you pay for travel insurance is likely to be more expensive. However, there are still many providers out there and you should be able to find affordable cover. Whatever happens, don’t be tempted to lie to an insurance provider, because if you do and then need to make a claim, it could be rejected.

When you declare medical conditions on our website, we’ll only show quotes from insurance providers who will cover all declared medical conditions, with no exclusions.

MoneyHelper has launched a directory of insurance providers who may be able to provide quotes over the phone if you have more serious medical conditions. Find more information at MoneyHelper or by calling them on 0800 138 7777.

What type of insurance do I need for rock climbing?

Standard travel insurance policies may cover low-risk climbing - for example climbing or bouldering inside a gym - as one of their standard activities, but you need to check the policy to be sure.

If you’re going rock climbing outside as part of your trip, you’ll probably need to consider additional travel insurance cover. Many providers will offer extra cover for what they call ‘hazardous’ or extreme activities. Choosing this sort of cover is likely to make the policy more expensive though, because of the greater risk involved in these types of sports.

Travel insurance providers often group sports and outdoors activities into ‘packs’ depending on the level of risk involved. That means that if you have an adventurous holiday planned with lots of different activities, including climbing, you may be able to choose an add-on that covers them all.

Once you’ve given us details about yourself and your trip, we’ll show you a list of policies with documents you can download to check if rock climbing is covered, and if there are any exclusions, restrictions or conditions, such as not climbing above a certain altitude (see below). Each policy will be different, so make sure you check what’s offered before you buy.

If you have trouble finding the right cover for more serious rock-climbing trips, you may have to consider a specialist policy that’s tailored to the specific risks involved. This could cover you for damage or loss of your accessories, such as your helmet, harness or camera equipment. It may also cover emergency rescue in case you fall and get injured when climbing in a remote location.

Check your policy for personal liability cover, in case you injure someone while climbing and they make a claim against you for compensation.

What do I need to consider before rock climbing abroad?

If a provider offers cover for rock climbing, it might come with limitations. For example, it may only cover indoor climbing or climbing up to 14,000 feet. This is because indoor climbing is in a controlled environment and considered to have less risk. There are extra dangers at higher altitude associated with weather conditions and oxygen levels.

If you’re climbing outdoors, you’ll need to let your provider know what type of climbing you’ll be doing, such as traditional climbing, big wall climbing, via ferrata, sport climbing or bouldering. The level of risk involved can affect the level of cover you can get and/or the price of your policy.

It’s important to stay safe while climbing by taking the necessary safety precautions. Failing to do so could invalidate your policy. These include:

  • Wearing a climbing helmet
  • Using a harness
  • Using suitable ropes
  • Using safety anchors
  • Checking knots and harnesses are secure before you climb.

If your plans change during your trip and you decide to undertake a more hazardous form of climbing than originally planned, contact your provider to see if you can amend your level of cover.

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Frequently asked questions

Will rock climbing travel insurance also cover me for mountaineering and trekking?

It depends on the policy you choose. You’ll often need to find a specialist policy to cover you for more extreme activities in the mountains, such as trekking at high altitudes, ice climbing, multi-day climbs and alpine mountaineering, because of the risks involved. It’s important to read the terms of any policy carefully to make sure you’ll be covered for the activities you have planned for your adventure. And speak to your provider if you need to add on extra cover or clarify any details.

Will my EHIC/GHIC card cover me for climbing injuries in Europe?

A European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) or Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC) card is great to have when travelling in Europe, but it’s not a replacement for decent travel insurance. Your EHIC/GHIC will cover you for treatment in a state-run healthcare facility in the EU on the same basis as a resident, but that doesn’t mean treatment will be free or easily accessible. Travel insurance will allow you to access private healthcare and a good rock-climbing travel insurance policy could also cover vital emergency rescue.

Will rock climbing travel insurance cover me for mountain rescue?

It depends on your policy but it’s unlikely that standard travel insurance will cover you for emergency mountain rescue or search and rescue. If you’re planning a rock climbing trip in the mountains, you may need to arrange specialist cover. 

If you’ll be doing any climbing in remote locations without phone service, remember to take a satellite communication device with you so you can contact the emergency services and leave details of where you’ll be with a responsible family member or friend. 

Can I get cover for solo or free climbing?

It can be extremely difficult to find an insurance policy that will cover you for solo free climbing because of the extreme level of risk involved. Even specialist policies will normally exclude it. Unless you’re free-soloist Alex Honnold, rock climbing without the proper safety equipment is highly dangerous and absolutely not recommended.

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