alternatives to Global Rescue for backcountry insurance

Discussion of medical or rescue topics related to climbing and mountaineering.
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Alpinisto

 
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by Alpinisto » Tue Jul 27, 2010 1:42 pm

brenta wrote:I read this on the AAC website:

"When injured within the United States, members should call 911 immediately and then contact Global Rescue as soon as possible during the course of the rescue."

I've taken this to mean that if I have no cell phone connection, but my PLB calls 911 via satellite, then as soon as possible is as soon as I get coverage.


IMO, that's how most normal people would understand it. However, given insurance companies' collective track record of non-payment of legitimate claims, recission and general assholishness, I'd wager that if you filed a claim with GR they'd first try to deny it, saying you didn't call "soon enough."

(Disclaimer: I have no personal knowledge about GR's practices, but am extrapolating based on the rest of the insurance industry.)

And what's the deal with "preempting local SAR" per Fossana's post above? It sounds like GR is a rescue service, not rescue insurance. If it were true insurance, the premium would be based on the amount of coverage and the actuarial tables, and it wouldn't matter who performed the actual rescue services. We wouldn't have to deal with all this bullshit of having GR "coordinate the rescue."

Does GR cover searches, as well? It's one thing to fall into a crevasse and break a leg, call it in and have the helo pluck you off from Helen Lake. It's quite another to have multiple agencies scouring an entire mountainside for days, likely in bad weather, trying to find a lost/injured/potentially deceased climber. THAT gets expensive, and I don't believe GR coverage applies here (though it's been probably six months since I read their policy/application).

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welle

 
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by welle » Tue Jul 27, 2010 3:42 pm

Alpinisto, IIRC, GR covers any expenses that occur related to the SAR. For basic coverage that comes with AAC membership it's up to $5000.

Here is from their FAQs posted on AAC website:

What happens in the event that a call for rescue is placed to local services, rather than Global Rescue? What if a rescue is launched without a call being placed at all?

Global Rescue does ask that the first call is placed directly to GR, but understands that there may be times when an AAC member (or someone else on the member's behalf) simply calls the local "911" number first. In those cases, GR needs to be notified as soon as
possible, especially while the rescue is still in process. This will allow Global Rescue to provide full capabilities of logistical support to the mission, forming contingency plans and utilizing a full team of evacuation experts. A family member or companion may also make the call to Global Rescue on the member's behalf. When notified in a timely manner before or during a rescue mission, part of Global Rescue's benefit to the AAC is that GR will absorb the first $5,000 worth of rescue-generated costs. It is in your best interest to get GR in the loop as early as possible and that means educating next of kin, partners and guides by providing them with instructions and the GR number prior to engaging in the activity. What may potentially become difficult is if GR is contacted after everything has already played out. Global Rescue is not an insurance provider, but rather a rescue service, more similar to AAA’s roadside assistance than to collision coverage. Should your rescue be completed without Global Rescue assistance, please contact the AAC to report your rescue and to be advised on your options.


It's been widely publicized that Steve House used Global Rescue in his recent accident this spring. It would be curious to find out who his first responders were.

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MoapaPk

 
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by MoapaPk » Tue Jul 27, 2010 5:23 pm

I have a SPOT, and have this:
http://www.findmespot.com/en/index.php?cid=104
for an extra $12.95 a year.
http://www.geosalliance.com/sar/

I know it's not the same thing (and the call has to be initiated via SPOT), and do wonder what the $50K coverage/incident means in reality; I've never heard of anyone using it. If medical costs are not lumped with SAR, well...
Last edited by MoapaPk on Tue Jul 27, 2010 5:31 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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mrchad9

 
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by mrchad9 » Tue Jul 27, 2010 5:30 pm

I don't mean this to come across the wrond way- but serious question- What is the reason to purchase rescue insurance in the US? I understand if the issue here is concern about costs that may be billed to you in specific other countries (if your medical insurance doesn't cover it- some do). But if in the US it seems that SAR costs are not billed to the rescued, so why have coverage for activity in the US?

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MoapaPk

 
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by MoapaPk » Tue Jul 27, 2010 5:34 pm

Supposedly, Clark County SAR never bills anyone. Recently, a friend had a serious injury while climbing in Red Rock -- broke her back. It was bum luck; she was quite skilled, just happened to have a rock break loose. SAR later billed her $15K. It was all paid by her private "incident" insurance, but I wonder if they somehow found out she was covered, before sending the bill.

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brenta

 
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by brenta » Tue Jul 27, 2010 5:39 pm

welle wrote:IIRC, GR covers any expenses that occur related to the SAR.

Basic coverage does not include search. The Schedule of Benefits explicitly says "Services related to searching for Members are not included."

welle wrote:Here is from their FAQs posted on AAC website:

Thanks for posting this. Am I the only one who finds this FAQ not in agreement with the language of the Schedule of Benefits?

welle wrote:It's been widely publicized that Steve House used Global Rescue in his recent accident this spring. It would be curious to find out who his first responders were.

In his blog, Steve says the first responders came in a Parks Canada helicopter.

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mrchad9

 
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by mrchad9 » Tue Jul 27, 2010 5:47 pm

MoapaPk wrote:Supposedly, Clark County SAR never bills anyone. Recently, a friend had a serious injury while climbing in Red Rock -- broke her back. It was bum luck; she was quite skilled, just happened to have a rock break loose. SAR later billed her $15K. It was all paid by her private "incident" insurance, but I wonder if they somehow found out she was covered, before sending the bill.

Yeah- I wonder that too. I also wonder- assuming she had good medical insurance- if that would have covered it (assuming she was still billed) had there not been an incident insurance first in line.

Kindof like when a credit card gives you rental insurance for car rentals. They only pay for costs after everyone else.

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Buz Groshong

 
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by Buz Groshong » Tue Jul 27, 2010 6:42 pm

MoapaPk wrote:Supposedly, Clark County SAR never bills anyone. Recently, a friend had a serious injury while climbing in Red Rock -- broke her back. It was bum luck; she was quite skilled, just happened to have a rock break loose. SAR later billed her $15K. It was all paid by her private "incident" insurance, but I wonder if they somehow found out she was covered, before sending the bill.


I believe the policy around here (Fairfax Co., VA) is that they will bill you for ambulance service if your insurce will cover it and most insurance will cover it. Of course, this helps keep taxes down while boosting the cost of insurance. So the insured pay and the uninsured don't - kind of like our health care system.

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Alpinisto

 
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by Alpinisto » Tue Jul 27, 2010 6:44 pm

welle wrote:Alpinisto, IIRC, GR covers any expenses that occur related to the SAR. For basic coverage that comes with AAC membership it's up to $5000.

Here is from their FAQs posted on AAC website:

What happens in the event that a call for rescue is placed to local services, rather than Global Rescue? What if a rescue is launched without a call being placed at all?

Global Rescue does ask that the first call is placed directly to GR, but understands that there may be times when an AAC member (or someone else on the member's behalf) simply calls the local "911" number first. In those cases, GR needs to be notified as soon as
possible, especially while the rescue is still in process. This will allow Global Rescue to provide full capabilities of logistical support to the mission, forming contingency plans and utilizing a full team of evacuation experts. A family member or companion may also make the call to Global Rescue on the member's behalf. When notified in a timely manner before or during a rescue mission, part of Global Rescue's benefit to the AAC is that GR will absorb the first $5,000 worth of rescue-generated costs. It is in your best interest to get GR in the loop as early as possible and that means educating next of kin, partners and guides by providing them with instructions and the GR number prior to engaging in the activity. What may potentially become difficult is if GR is contacted after everything has already played out. Global Rescue is not an insurance provider, but rather a rescue service, more similar to AAA’s roadside assistance than to collision coverage. Should your rescue be completed without Global Rescue assistance, please contact the AAC to report your rescue and to be advised on your options.


It's been widely publicized that Steve House used Global Rescue in his recent accident this spring. It would be curious to find out who his first responders were.


Thanks for the info. One of my questions was answered therein (see bold), but I find it telling that the word "search" isn't used anywhere...

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Kai

 
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by Kai » Tue Jul 27, 2010 8:40 pm

Every health insurance plan I've been on has coverage for evacuation etc. If you've got health insurance, you may already be covered.

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by MoapaPk » Tue Jul 27, 2010 8:49 pm

Kai wrote:Every health insurance plan I've been on has coverage for evacuation etc. If you've got health insurance, you may already be covered.


Some plans specifically deny coverage for risky activities, including rock "scrambling."

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mrchad9

 
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by mrchad9 » Tue Jul 27, 2010 9:01 pm

Likely true- but if you work for a large company, and have group health insurance through work, often there are not such exclusions.

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Alpinisto

 
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by Alpinisto » Tue Jul 27, 2010 9:33 pm

MoapaPk wrote:
Kai wrote:Every health insurance plan I've been on has coverage for evacuation etc. If you've got health insurance, you may already be covered.


Some plans specifically deny coverage for risky activities, including rock "scrambling."


"The large print giveth, and the small print taketh away." --Tom Waits

This is why it's a good idea to read your health insurance policy VERY carefully...

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MoapaPk

 
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by MoapaPk » Tue Jul 27, 2010 9:37 pm

mrchad9 wrote:Likely true- but if you work for a large company, and have group health insurance through work, often there are not such exclusions.


Yes, I worked for a large company, and because my risk was pooled with 5000 people, there were no such restrictions. The people I've met who weren't covered worked for smaller companies or had private insurance.

That's sort of the reasoning with the SPOT extra GEOSS coverage. You pool your risk with a large number of people, and probably just a handful will need extra incident insurance each year. If they pull in $13 from each of 50,000 people, they can afford 13 big-scale incidents per year, especially if the coverage helps sell the product.

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by climbxclimb » Wed Jul 28, 2010 1:24 pm

I asked Steve House comment on this since he had a first experience with GR recently in Canada. Let's see what he says...
Even though Canada may be different from Bolivia, Switzerland or Pakistan ....
I friend of mine a few weeks ago injured his foot while climbing in the Swiss alps. He was able to walk back to the hut but he could not descend from the hut to the valley.
He contacted GR but things were a bit complicated (I do not have more details). Eventually he waited a day in the hut and eventually somebody helped him to get down. In Switzerland the charge you 2800 Francs for a rescue...
I am curious about this issue because I climb a lot in the Alps in Frace, Italy and Switzerland and soon I will be planning a climbing trip to Patagonia...I am member of the AAC and of the Italian Alpine Club, the membership this last one would pay for any rescue in the Alps.

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