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Rescue Insurance for Backpackers
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Maia Jordan
(maia) - MLife

Locale: Rocky Mountains
Rescue Insurance for Backpackers on 01/07/2014 13:24:21 MST Print View

Companion forum thread to:

Rescue Insurance for Backpackers

Billy Ray
(rosyfinch) - M

Locale: the mountains
good info on 01/07/2014 13:47:42 MST Print View

Thanks Rex... some very good information...

You have done a good service for the BPL community...

Billy

Rex Sanders
(Rex) - M

Locale: Central California Coast
Article updated on 01/09/2014 23:46:58 MST Print View

This article was updated today to fix some problems.

-- Rex

Cynthia Lovejoy
(cyndylovejoy)

Locale: Pacific Northwest
helpful on 01/10/2014 11:31:57 MST Print View

There is a ton of helpful information in this article, thanks for sharing!

Ken Thompson
(kthompson) - MLife

Locale: Behind the Redwood Curtain
Re: Rescue Insurance for Backpackers on 01/10/2014 21:26:15 MST Print View

Good job Rex. Interesting subject.

Carsten Jost
(Carsten010) - M
SAR in Europe on 01/11/2014 03:10:27 MST Print View

HI folkes,

a good option to get a cheap but ggod insurance for alpine hikes etc is
becoming a member of the DAV(Deutscher Alpenverein) which is the German Alpine Club.

The insurance is included in the membership fee which ususally runs around 50€.

It covers SAR costs up to 25.000 € ... details (also in German) can be found here:
http://www.alpenverein.de/aktuelles-info/versicherungen/bergungskosten-unfall-bergunfall-versicherung_aid_10256.html

BTW...the insurance is valid world wide.

Cheers

Carsten

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: SAR in Europe on 01/11/2014 14:46:19 MST Print View

Ditto for the Austrian Alpine club OAV.
Sue and I are members.
I think the same applies to quite a few other European XXX Alpine Clubs.

Cheers

Doug Smith
(Jedi5150) - F

Locale: Central CA
SAR costs on 01/17/2014 14:51:53 MST Print View

Good article Rex, thanks for taking the time to gather the info.

I live in California, and can only really speak for this state. But you hit the nail on the head for our state, which is that the private ambulance costs and hospital bills are all you will be expected to pay, unless you were committing legal violations, which led to the rescue. CalEMA (now changed back to California OES) coordinates SAR for the state, but local Sheriff's Offices for the most part form the majority of SAR efforts, along with a few private organizations and federal agencies. I've been on SAR for 15 years, part of which was as a coordinator for our team and leader of our technical rescue team. We have never billed a SAR victim. Ambulances, on the other hand, are not cheap.

If an air ambulance is required, like you said in your article, it will be selected by the Ops Manager or IC, not the patient/ victim. But one thing to keep in mind is that CHP helos have a paramedic/officer on board, and are completely free. Coast Guard have an EMT-I, and are free, and CSAR helicopters (like the 129th out of Moffett Field), have a paramedic (pararescue jumpers), and are free. So there are a lot of free helicopters out there for rescue that do not cost the patient a penny. The downside is that availability/ protocols/ response times/ nature of injury will determine who responds, not free vs. costly.

A photo just for fun, of me and my K9 partner practicing "hot-loading" in a CHP A-Star helicopter at SAREX 2013. The only time I've been in a helicopter on an actual rescue is when I was hoisted up in a basket into a Coast Guard HH65, but that is a long story and involved a "recovery", not a rescue.
Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug

Edited by Jedi5150 on 01/17/2014 15:00:35 MST.

Roger Dodger
(RogerDodger) - F

Locale: Wess Siide
Re: Rescue Insurance for Backpackers on 01/17/2014 15:12:11 MST Print View

For SAR in Riverside county, and San Bernardino county including San Jac, and parts of the PCT, the helicopter, sherriff cost is absorbed by the county taxpayer fund when the rescued person is a county resident.

Otherwise, for out of towners, the person's medical insurance will be billed if the rescued person is injured, similar to the ambulance transport.

However if there was no medical injury (example: lost trail with no heart attack, or broken bones or hypothermia treatment) then the county emergency services will send a bill, and collection agency will put a lien on assets (car, home.)

For the SCUBA divers on BPL, those with Divers Network (DAN Insurance) it doubles as travel, lost equipment and evacuation insurance, not just scuba.

KEN LARSON
(KENLARSON) - MLife

Locale: Western Michigan
American Alpine Club on 01/17/2014 17:09:33 MST Print View

AAC members in good standing are automatically enrolled in both a $5,000 Trailhead Rescue membership with Global Rescue, and a $5,000 Domestic Rescue Insurance Policy. The two services combined provide up to $10,000 in Rescue Services to all members

Regular - $80
Age 29-65.

https://www.americanalpineclub.org/

Billy Ray
(rosyfinch) - M

Locale: the mountains
Re: American Alpine Club on 01/17/2014 17:44:21 MST Print View

AAC members in good standing are automatically enrolled in both a $5,000 Trailhead Rescue membership with Global Rescue, and a $5,000 Domestic Rescue Insurance Policy. The two services combined provide up to $10,000 in Rescue Services to all members

True... but I seem to recall that you have to be 200 miles from your home to collect on one or both of those coverages...

I also am a AAC member... mostly for the insurance...

Billy

Rex Sanders
(Rex) - M

Locale: Central California Coast
Re: Re: Rescue Insurance for Backpackers on 01/17/2014 19:39:54 MST Print View

Roger wrote: However if there was no medical injury (example: lost trail with no heart attack, or broken bones or hypothermia treatment) then the county emergency services will send a bill, and collection agency will put a lien on assets (car, home.)

Do you have any references for that? I have found nothing on those counties charging for rescues. Both Riverside and San Bernardino Sheriff's Departments did not reply to my email asking, in part:

I want your help discovering which rescue costs are billed to the person being rescued, and how much a "typical" rescue costs ...

I'm trying to track down all the exceptions to the "no charge for rescue" rule in USA.

Thanks.

-- Rex

Rex Sanders
(Rex) - M

Locale: Central California Coast
Re: Re: American Alpine Club on 01/17/2014 19:47:19 MST Print View

Be sure to read all the AAC rescue assistance and insurance terms and conditions, which they have carefully buried in several linked web pages.

Also note that your biggest rescue bill in USA is likely to be for a helicopter. $5,000 or $10,000 won't go very far at $1,200 per hour for searches, or $16,000+ take-off charges for ambulance helicopters.

-- Rex

Doug Smith
(Jedi5150) - F

Locale: Central CA
Re: Rescue Insurance for Backpackers on 01/17/2014 23:12:32 MST Print View

"Roger wrote: However if there was no medical injury (example: lost trail with no heart attack, or broken bones or hypothermia treatment) then the county emergency services will send a bill, and collection agency will put a lien on assets (car, home.)

Do you have any references for that? I have found nothing on those counties charging for rescues. Both Riverside and San Bernardino Sheriff's Departments did not reply to my email asking, in part:..."

I was going to ask him the same thing Rex. I would be surprised if it were true. One of the coordinators on our team was previously on San Bernardino County SAR, and her father has been there for many years. I've written her with this question and I'm waiting to hear back.

Billy Ray
(rosyfinch) - M

Locale: the mountains
Re: Re: Re: American Alpine Club on 01/17/2014 23:49:22 MST Print View

Rex: "Also note that your biggest rescue bill in USA is likely to be for a helicopter. $5,000 or $10,000 won't go very far at $1,200 per hour for searches, or $16,000+ take-off charges for ambulance helicopters."

But if you have a PLB the search time should be very little.
And if you have medical insurance they may cover the helicopter ambulance.

I have all 3, AAC membership, PLB, and medical insurance (though I don't know for sure whey they will cover)

Billy

Greg Mihalik
(greg23) - M

Locale: Colorado
Re: Re: Re: Re: American Alpine Club on 01/18/2014 07:52:41 MST Print View

"I have all 3, AAC membership, PLB, and medical insurance (though I don't know for sure what they will cover)"


Hey Billy - I've got a bridge for sale ....

Billy Ray
(rosyfinch) - M

Locale: the mountains
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: American Alpine Club on 01/18/2014 09:03:19 MST Print View

Oh Greg... how much you selling that bridge for?

Billy Ray
(rosyfinch) - M

Locale: the mountains
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: American Alpine Club on 01/18/2014 09:35:01 MST Print View

BTW Greg... that bridge you have for sale... you shoulda posted that in the Gear Swap section, not here... :)

thanks,

Billy

Roger Dodger
(RogerDodger) - F

Locale: Wess Siide
Re: Re: Re: Rescue Insurance for Backpackers (Reply to Rex/Doug) on 01/18/2014 09:46:11 MST Print View

A friend from OC snapped his ankle while rock climbing near Idy, needing air lift. He was billed big, but he's poor so they can't collect.

Also a while back the Town Crier did an article on the cost of rescues, because for the residents there, the helicopters are running every weekend during endless summer season, and you know, Riverside and San Bernardino are financially stressed. So I vaguely remember a county official, maybe Stone, was quoted as telling the county tax payers not to worry about the rescue cost, it's not coming out of their taxes to pay for outsiders, unless it's a county resident then it's covered. San Bernardino which is very close to Riverside and shares some of the mountains, copied their policy.

Doug Smith
(Jedi5150) - F

Locale: Central CA
Re: Rescue Insurance for Backpackers (Reply to Rex/Doug) on 01/18/2014 15:06:46 MST Print View

Ah, that makes more sense now Roger. I think it means something a little different than how you took it. For non-medical rescues the costs are billed to the county of residency for the missing person. Otherwise, as you said, places like San Bernardino, Yosemite and surrounding areas, etc., would go bankrupt. San Bernardino has a small air force of vehicles (hahaha), so if the county absorbed all the costs it would be a nightmare.

But the billing is not to the missing person, but to the county itself, where they came from. We had a wealthy family (winery owners) go missing in the Sierras and our county was billed, not the county where they went missing. The family themselves were not billed, but made a generous donation to our SAR team. This is just one example I can think of off the top of my head, but it illustrates my point. I'm not aware of any agency in California that bills the missing person for non-medical rescue costs. In fact, I don't believe it would be legal to do so. Remember, search is a law enforcement function, which is why it falls under the jurisdiction of the Sheriff and not the fire department. Privatized EMS can obviously charge patients for medical care, but law enforcement is mandated to be accessible to all for no cost (aside from taxes...there is actually an exception to this but it goes beyond the scope of this topic).

Like we mentioned, another huge exception to that rule would be if the missing person was convicted of a criminal offence, such as trespassing, etc. Then all bets are off, and restitution fees can be ordered by the court.

Edited by Jedi5150 on 01/18/2014 15:20:49 MST.