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.
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).
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.
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.