With the mounting cost of search and rescue operations, and the trend in search and rescue organizations and local counties wanting to bill people they rescue for their efforts, it seems as though getting outdoors and going on a day hike could end up being very costly if there was an accident and assistance was needed. Of course we all think, “It could never happen to me!” But sometimes, things happen. You break an ankle or an arm, you hike cross-country only to become very lost, or worse, you have a medical condition that makes hiking out of the place you hiked into impossible. That air ambulance bill will be expensive if you have to be air-lifted out of the wilderness.
Your regular health insurance policy would most likely cover your costs of a broken leg and hospital bill. The air rescue and the search and rescue bill that might be sent off to you? Probably not. There is a need to have some extra money on hand for those “just in case” events. But who really saves up $10,000 for an air ambulance?
The American Alpine Club is offering outdoor insurance for mountain climbers, skiers, snowboarders, and even just regular old hikers. The organization has some basic benefits with simple membership that include 20% off everything at Patagonia’s web site, and a $10,000 rescue benefit package. They also have varying insurance policies for active outdoors people, including a major medical/health insurance program, an accident insurance benefit plan, travel insurance, and life insurance for those that are climbers (because, according to their site, the insurance industry has decided that only ‘deranged lunatics’ climb).
Many of us who have been in the outdoor industry, or own a small business, know how costly and hard getting insurance can be, aside from general commercial liability insurance for guide services or for a store front. Even in owning a small business, it is difficult to find that extra $500 or more a month just for health insurance for yourself. At the least, it looks as though membership to the American Alpine Club will defray some costs for a search and rescue operation if you are billed, which is becoming a trend in this tough economy.