The Best Travel Insurance for Everest Base Camp


The Everest Base Camp trek is nothing if not remote, and serious medical issues will require helicopter evac, quite possibly preceded by a painful mule ride down the trail. From everyday trekking injuries like sprained ankles to life-threatening conditions such as HAPE (high-altitude pulmonary edema) and natural disasters like avalanches and rockfalls, it’s important that you have the right travel insurance for the Everest Base Camp trek.

Everest Base Camp Khumjung and Khunde-13

Even in Kathmandu, medical facilities tend to the basic. You’ll likely be evaced a second time from Kathmandu for some conditions, from head injuries to fractures that require pinning (ORIF), so the best travel insurance for Everest Base Camp should include medical evacuation cover sufficient for those needs. Especially trekking to EBC with a 12-year-old, solid medical cover was very important to me.

After a lot of research, which of course included reading the terms and conditions (here’s more on why you should read the terms and conditions of your travel insurance before you buy), we went with World Nomads for the Everest Base Camp trek.

Do be aware that there is no cover for people who will be doing ice-climbing or mountaineering. Not only does cover typically excludes remote regions, but both Island and Lobuche peaks, popular beginner climbs, stand over 6,000 metres, above World Nomads’ threshold, as does Everest Advanced Base Camp. For these you’ll want to contact the local mountaineering association in your country for dedicated mountaineering insurance. You will usually need to buy this before you travel, so plan ahead.

While mountaineers should look elsewhere (see my Kilimanjaro post for details), World Nomads offer adventure travel insurance that can be tailored to the Everest Base Camp trek. Do note that, thanks to the whims of their underwriters in each market, an activity that is level 2 cover for one nationality might be level 4 in another. So, before you buy, check the terms and conditions of adventure travel for your country (and check direct with the insurers if anything’s unclear).

Everest Base Camp: Everest and Nuptse seen from Kala Patthar.

Here’s why I decided to use World Nomads for our Everest Base Camp trek insurance:

1: Thanks to their adventure travel upgrades, you can trek up to 6,000 metres on recognised routes. Most insurers cap out trekking cover at 4,000 or 5,000 metres, no use when both Everest Base Camp proper and the high passes you’ll cross on, eg, the Three Passes trek, are above 5,000 metres.

2: World Nomads cover you for activities arranged in-country. Many travel insurers’ terms & conditions require that you trek with a Western operator so that, rather than paying out, they can claim from the operators’ insurance.

3: They cover you for helicopter evac, provided you contact them before you book the heli and their 24-hour assistance providers agree it’s medically necessary. (More information here.)

4: You can arrange cover when you have already left your home country, and no matter how long you have already been travelling, though do check residence requirements in their Ts & Cs.

5: Nationals of most countries can buy cover against natural disasters, such as earthquakes and avalanches – relevant in an geologically active region which saw two earthquakes in 2015 alone. As always, be sure to check the Ts & Cs.

6: Nationals of most countries can buy cover that allows for evacuation in the case of natural disaster and political unrest. These are real and current risks of Nepal travel that it’s worth being aware of. Again, do check the Ts & Cs.

Everest Base Camp Gokyo to Dragnag-7
World Nomads is backed by reputable insurers and 24-hour assistance providers – the point is to ensure that you’re covered in the event of a disaster.

Do please note that Nomads’ per item electronics cover works out expensive, and the item limit is too low to replace most valuable tech. If you can’t afford to replace the electronics you’re taking to Everest Base Camp, where electricity is limited anyway, don’t bring them.

And, as always when buying travel insurance, be sure to read the Terms & Conditions. Key Ts & Cs that everyone should check include residence requirements – World Nomads’ is pretty flexible – and, for US nationals, home medical insurance requirements.

Also be aware that only very specialist insurers, not including Nomads, will cover anyone in regions to which your home government advises against travel: Frontier Travel Insurance offers cover to Iraq and beyond.

Any questions, please hit me up in the comments. Full disclosure: I am an affiliate of both World Nomads and Frontier, which means that, if you buy insurance following a link from this site, you pay exactly the same but contribute a small amount to the cost of keeping this site going.

20 Responses

  1. SHIVLAL PATEL says:

    Enquiring about Everest Base Camp trek insurance. How do I get about contacting you or getting the right quote please. Many thanks. Kind regards, Shivlal

    • Theodora says:

      Hi Shivlal, You don’t need to contact me, just go to World Nomads and fill in the required information. You’ll likely need Level 2 insurance to cover you to trekking to 6,000 metres – that varies according to your nationality. Cheers, Theodora

  2. MegMarie says:

    I am looking to go to Gokyo Ri in March. We have tried contacting customer service for Nomads to make sure that our trip is covered and get the correct plan. I’m in the process of reading T’s and C’s (have for the explorer, but not the standard plan). We called a number but the person was not an expert in the policy as they were 3rd party that handles customer service. Do you know of a better number to call?

    thanks!

    • Theodora says:

      Hi, My understanding is that most nationalities are covered for Gokyo Ri on level 2 because it’s all below 6,000 metres and a standard tourist route. However, don’t take my word for it – email them (the email address to use will vary according to your nationality) and get confirmation as to what plan you need to trek up to 6,000 metres. I’ve found them pretty reactive over email and it allows them time to do any internal checking they need to do before getting back to you…. Theodora

  3. Johnny yaacoub says:

    Hi

    My country of residence, lebanon, is not included in the list. What is the second best option, after world nomads, for trekking to everest base camp and island peak?

    Thanks

    • Theodora says:

      Hi Johnny, Gosh, that’s a tough one, and you’re right that Lebanon isn’t covered. Most insurers are limited in the countries they cover and since there’s probably relatively few Lebanese nationals doing mountaineering in Nepal I suggest you contact an insurance broker in Lebanon and ask what they recommend. These guys look as though they can refer you to someone who can help: http://www.libslb.com/. Theodora

  4. Hello! Quick question. I am a Canadian citizen who has been living in South Korea for 2.5 years teaching English with my Canadian wife. As far as we know, we are still considered residents of Canada (because we havent done any paperwork to become non-residents). However, our Alberta health care cards may or may not be active since we have been out of the country for so long. In the event that our provincial health care coverage is INactive … would we still be able to be covered by World Nomads? Similarly, this makes selecting a country of permanent residence on the WN form difficult … what to do?

    At the moment we are in Korea, but leaving for good this weekend, travelling for 3 months and then back to Canada in December.

    Any help would be appreciated!

  5. Linda Icely says:

    Hi Theodora, I have the same enquiry as Shivlal Patel’s (March 19,2016). I have done as suggested but when I type in Nepal as the country to be visited, this is not accepted. How then do I get info on insurance for Base Camp Everest?

    • Theodora says:

      Hi Linda, When you type the first three letters “NEP” Nepal will come up in a green box below the place you’re typing. Click on that green box saying Nepal and it will show as Nepal on green with an X by it above the place you’re typing. Do the same for your country of residence and you should be all set. Let me know if you’re still having problems, though…. Theodora

  6. Linda Icely says:

    Hi Theodora, thanks, it worked this time. I will peruse all the information of the various covers.

  7. Bobby O'Connor says:

    Hi Theodora, thanks for all the info on insurance on another subject would you recommend any particular company to trek to EBC with
    Regards
    Bobby

  8. Laurence says:

    Hi

    I’m UK based & have just booked a level 3 premium policy through “worldnomad”, however they specify that, we must be with a professional, qualified and licensed guide, instructor or operator” to be covered.

    So we are forced to go with a guide.

    Does anyone have any more clarity on this, – ie, can we fly to Lukta and hire a Sherpa/guide, – are they classified as “proffesional, qualified and licenced” guides?

    Does anyone know any insurance company which doesn’t have this policy??

    Cheers

    Laurence

    • Theodora says:

      Hi Laurence,

      I didn’t know about that qualification, and it doesn’t show up as a condition on their page listing adventure activities for the UK either, which shows no special exclusions. Let me see if I can get some clarity from World Nomads on this mismatch.

      Nepal has a system for licensing guides and it also has a guide association: http://www.nnmga.org.np/, but it’s clearly not ideal.

      As a UK national, or UK resident, I think the BMC’s Alpine cover will cover you – http://www.thebmc.co.uk – but check their Ts & Cs and be aware that it’s not cheap…

      Theodora

  9. Valerie says:

    Hello! I noticed n the article above that you said you made the Everest Base Camp trip with a 12 year old. My husband and 12 year old son are ready to book their trip. How was your experience with your son/daughter?

  10. Yana says:

    We have limited time, so our agent in Nepal suggests to fly to Lukla, take helicopter ( from a known large co) to Hotel Everest and first land on base camp for 10 minutes then decend to HEV. Stay one night and come back next afternoon to Kathmandu . Do you think one can get so sick as to die during this time? Or suffer serious damage? He said we will have oxygen tanks with us . I’ll be taking meds. Going with 15 year old son. We can’t trek on this trip. It’s the only way to get to base camp even for 10 min. What’s your opinion on this?

    • Theodora says:

      Hi Yana,

      First things first: you’re unlikely to sustain serious damage with just 10 minutes at altitude, and if you have oxygen tanks and face masks then even if you’re intolerant of altitude you shouldn’t get sick. Meds exist to treat sickness, not to prevent it, so I certainly wouldn’t use them (I’m not a doctor, but I recommend you have a chat to yours), particularly not with a helicopter and oxygen on hand.

      As regards the trip. Base Camp itself is not visually exciting at most times of year: it’s a bunch of rubble with some ice in the background, and you can’t see Everest from there (although you’ll get a great view from the Everest View Hotel, which is where you’re staying, right?). If you’re flying in during climbing season, there will be more to see, although I’m not sure how easy it will be to land: are you going to put down at Gorak Shep and then hike to base camp for an hour or so, or is there actually a helicopter landing pad near base camp? I’d guess hiking at that altitude would be tough, even with oxygen, if you haven’t had the time to acclimatise that you get over a slow ascent.

      I do think you should try and incorporate some hiking, even if it’s just a trip to a monastery, or a village. What’s so great about Sagamartha are these narrow little paths.

      To summarise: your plan doesn’t sound especially dangerous, with such a short time at altitude, and oxygen on tap. But it does carry a risk of disappointment…

      Theodora

  1. December 13, 2015

    […] to this elevation without insurance that will cover you for medical and evac. For most travellers, World Nomads will be the best […]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *