Travel Insurance for the PCT

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Having worked in the travel industry for 8 years as a guide and travel agent, I’ve not only heard horror stories about trips that have gone wrong, I’ve seen people get hurt/sick, I’ve been sick myself and I know the importance of having travel insurance… Especially when going to America.

What I didn’t realize was getting travel insurance for the PCT would take more than one phone call.

There are certain keywords that I know now some insurance companies don’t like:

  • Ice-axe

  • Crampons / spikes

  • Hiking at altitude over 4,000m / 13,000 feet

  • Hiking without a guide

  • Hiking in a desert without a guide

 

I googled “hiking travel insurance” and started calling companies…. (all of these quotes are based on a 6 month policy, no pre-existing medical conditions & me being a British resident).

 

  1. British Mountaineering Council – Cover Available

  • Have to get BMC membership first £31.45 over the phone (half price online)

  • Trek policy

  • £1129 over the phone or £906 online

  • Conclusion: I know this is a very reputable company but I was shocked at the price

 

  1. Campbell Irvine – Cover Available

  • Trekking with no altitude limit (as long as on a recognized trail)

  • £395 zero excess

  • Ice-axe & spikes use ok

  • Conclusion: A definite possibility

 

  1. Endsleigh Insurance – Not Available

  • No – because hiking at altitude over 3000m (9,800 feet) without a guide (confirmed over the phone)

 

  1. World Nomads – Not Available

  • No – because not in an organised group and not with a guide (confirmed in an email)

 

  1. CoverMore – Cover Available

  • altitude up to 6,000m (19,000 feet), (Gold or Diamond policy only)

  • ice climbing / glacier crossing (Gold or Diamond policy only) – this allows me to use an ice-axe and crampons or spikes

  • £340 Gold + £406 Diamond (zero-excess)

  • Conclusion: This is the company I usually use and I don’t know why I thought they wouldn’t cover me (so they were the last place I called), but actually they’re the most reasonable

 

My little disclaimer: These are just my findings after calling 5 different companies. Buying travel insurance is a very personal decision. Always make sure you read the policy details and make sure you are being covered for every activity you’re doing. Also, what one company covers in one country, may be different in another country.

 

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11 responses to “Travel Insurance for the PCT

  1. Wow! Just…wow! These policies are expensive. But I agree the are necessary. Navigating the travel insurance world is complicated. I think it’s a somewhat new thing for Americans. I never have done so in prior years. But finding myself on the Danish side of the North Sea with the ferry I planned to travel to the UK on wrecked at a dock in Harwich, caused me to reconsider!

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  2. Hey Kat, I had major déjà vu reading your PCT posts. I’m starting in less than 2 weeks, also heading out from the UK, and seem to have done the Glenmore Lodge course, visa interview and travel insurance hunting almost step for step as you have! (and had the same sneaking thought about the triple crown before visa expiry…) Good luck, happy hiking, and maybe see you on the trail!

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  3. Thank you Kat- just planning to hike the PCT this year and my first thought was BMC for insurance. Now I’ll definitely research these other options

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  4. Lot of the Trans-Am biker racers use this company who are reasonable.For UK. https://www.dogtag.com/
    Thanks for all your visa info.I’ll be trying to get mine in London this year.Buying the Yogi handbook costs a fortune though cos’ of shipping.$40 for the book and $34 for shipping,but if it helps get the visa then it’ll be worth it.

    Ian

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    • Hi Ian,
      I took Yogi’s guide with me to the visa interview but the person who interviewed me barely noticed it, so it’s probably not that necessary to take if you weren’t going to buy the book. However, I did find the book very useful in planning my resupply and for the town guides…
      Happy Trails!

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  5. Your blog is saving me so much time and stress. It is a godsend i don’t know how i haven’t found it before because i have been researching pct for a significant amount of time. I have a million questions but could i ask with the insurance did you have to buy gold and diamond? i wasn’t sure what you meant there? Thanks so much for your site!

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    • Hi Laura,
      I went with CoverMore insurance (from here in the UK). They have various different plans but only the Diamond & Gold plans covered the activities I was going to be doing – walking at altitude etc.
      Just make sure whoever you go with covers everything you’ll be encountering on the PCT.
      Good Luck!

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  6. Fantastic post, thanks so much! I’ve just put in for a leave of absence for a 2017 attempt and like others would have started with BMC so it sounds like this will save a sharp shock when comparing!

    Ditto also to Laura re extensive other reading before finding this only by reference to insurance, will be trawling the rest of your blog with interest!

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