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More than 50,000 Brits visit Nepal every year (as of 2019), most of them seeking thrills and adventure that is impossible to find everywhere else. After all, this small South Asian country is the home of Mount Everest and 8 of the world’s 14 highest mountains, including Mt. Kanchenjunga, Lhotse, and Makalu. This makes Nepal the dream destination for most avid hikers and mountaineers.
Of course, there’s more to Nepal than its majestic mountain ranges. The country is also home to numerous world heritage sites including the Lumbini monastery — the Buddha’s birthplace. Its lush national park teeming with rare and exotic wildlife including the Himalayan Black Bear, Bengal Tigers, and the enigmatic Snow Leopard.
Whether you’re looking to go trekking in Nepal or take part in its myriad of cultural excursions, Nepal is an adventure unlike anywhere in the world.
If you’re reading this, a trip to Nepal is probably something you’ve been looking forward to for a long time. However, before you book your travel to Nepal, it’s important to ensure that you have good travel insurance. While most Brits go back to their home country unscathed, there is no guarantee that that you’ll experience the same after your trip. Hence, it would be prudent to get travel cover if something goes wrong during your travel to Nepal.
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Trekking in Nepal and other activities — is it safe?
Except for climbing Mount Everest, Nepal’s tourist activities are relatively safe. The locals are generally religious and hospitable people who understand that tourism is a big part of their economy. Of course, that’s no reason to become complacent when you’re thousands of miles away from your home country.
Whether it’s trekking in Nepal or visiting some of the country’s scenic monasteries, Brits are advised to remain vigilant. You can start by making sure that you get a good travel cover policy. In some cases, you may be unable to enter the country without travel insurance (trekking and mountaineering).
Also, you would want to keep the following safety reminders in mind:
- Never go anywhere alone, especially if you’re a woman. Doing so would most likely attract unwanted attention.
- Respect cultural norms — dress conservatively and refrain from public displays of affection, especially around religious sites, cities, and even inside a national park.
- Like many of the least developed nations in the world, theft is a common occurrence in Nepal, especially around popular tourist attractions in Kathmandu (the capital of Nepal). Hence, you would do well not to leave your valuables unattended. Avoid wearing expensive jewellery in public as it’ll only increase your risk of being targeted by criminal elements.
- Steer clear of political demonstrations which can sometimes turn violent. In many cases, protests are accompanied by general strikes, affecting your access to businesses and transportation services. Keep tabs on the local news about on-going protests and follow the advice of local authorities.
- If you’re looking to go trekking/mountaineering in Nepal, make sure that your travel cover includes emergency evacuation. Hire a reputable guide and make sure that you are physically fit to endure such activities. Climbing the Himalayas is no small feat, and it’s no secret that people have died trekking the Himalayas.
- Use tourist buses for transportation. Avoid getting on overnight buses which are often poorly maintained. If you must travel by boat, make sure that the vessels are not overloaded, and that weather conditions are fair.
- Air quality can be an issue in Kathmandu and other major cities due to its location (landlocked between India and China — countries with some of the most polluted cities in the world due to heavy industrialisation).
Keep a mobile phone handy at all times. In an emergency, call the Nepalese Police department (100) or the Nepalese Fire Department (101). Please note that there is no 24-hour public central emergency service operating in the country (even in Kathmandu). That said, you can call on private emergency services for help. For this reason, you would want to keep contact numbers of the nearest hospitals in your area in the event of a personal accident.
Note that if you do end up getting treated in a clinic or hospital, you will need to contact us as soon as possible as part of your claims process.
Healthcare for Brits in Nepal and the need for travel insurance
Before you leave for your trip to Nepal, you would want to review the National Travel Health Network and Centre (NaTHNaC) for information on potential health problems and recommended vaccines that will help keep you safe.
Please note that if you suffer an injury or health problem during your travel to Nepal, you’ll have no access to free 24-hour health services like you would in the UK. That’s why it’s important to get a travel cover to mitigate health-related expenses in the event of a personal accident and other emergencies. To make matters worse, patients with no travel insurance are often denied help until they could pay for the medical services upfront.
The Nepalese government also has rules regarding the limited amount and type of medicines you can bring into the country. If you have prescription medications, you’d want to contact the Nepalese embassy to clarify these rules and make sure that you’re allowed to carry the medicine with you during your trip to Nepal.
NHS also recommends taking a copy of your prescription along with a note from your doctor stating that you need the medicine to manage a pre-existing health condition.
Do you need to disclose pre-Existing Health Conditions when applying for travel insurance in Nepal?
When applying for a travel cover policy, the rule of thumb is that you need to be truthful about any pre-existing health condition you might have. Of course, the only exception is if the policy provider specifically tells you that you’re not required to disclose it (under certain terms and conditions).
You might think that hiding your pre-existing health condition would allow you to obtain travel insurance at a lower cost. In truth, however, doing so will only negate your personal liability cover as you’d be giving your policy provider a strong pretext to deny your claim in the event of an accident or injury.
Also, depending on the nature of your pre-existing health condition, disclosing it may not necessarily lead to an increase in premium. Even if it did, it’s no doubt a small price to pay compared to getting sick or injured in Nepal, then getting refused coverage due to an unfortunate technicality.
Most reputable service providers give free screening for thousands of health conditions and offer enough coverage to mitigate healthcare and repatriation expenses while in Nepal. This gives you peace of mind knowing that somebody has your back in case you run into any problems during your trip. While you’re more likely to return from your trip unscathed, trekking the Himalayas or exploring the cultural wonders of Kathmandu is too great a risk without adequate travel insurance.
What pre-existing health conditions don’t you need to disclose to your policy provider?
As mentioned earlier, some insurance companies may not require you to disclose certain pre-existing health conditions. Exactly what these conditions vary from one insurance company to another. The policy provider’s prerogative is to determine which pre-existing health condition requires disclosure and which ones do not.
For instance, we at Emerald Life won’t ask clients who are HIV+ to disclose their status provided that they’ve undergone at least 3 months of antiviral treatment and an undetectable viral load (or at least fewer than 50ppm according to the latest test results). The client must also have a CD4 count of more than 350 with no advice to switch to a different type of antiviral drug.
The human body is incredibly complex, and many things can go wrong, even in the short term. As a result, it can be tough for insurance providers to judge which health condition warrants disclosure when applying for travel insurance. Furthermore, insurance companies have all the rights reserved for making changes to their policy concerning pre-existing health conditions.
In general, you can expect your insurance provider to ask you the following questions:
- Do you currently take prescription medication? What kind?
- Have you undergone any medical procedure over the last two years? If so, what kind?
- Have you undergone any kind of surgical operation as an out-patient or in-patient ( in a hospital or clinic) over the last two years? What was it for?
- Are you currently scheduled for any kind of medical treatment or investigation? What kind?
- Are you currently suffering from a debilitating or terminal illness?
Note that these questions’ goal is to determine whether or not you have a health condition that may affect your health during your trip to Nepal. Hence, it’s important that you answer truthfully and disclose everything your policy provider needs to know about your health. They’ll let you know whether or not your pre-existing health condition has any bearing on your application for travel insurance in Nepal.
Are you wondering whether your pre-existing condition warrants disclosure? Contact us to start the screening process.
What to Look For When Shopping for Nepal Travel Insurance
Now that we’ve gone over the significance of getting Nepal travel insurance, you might be wondering what factors you need to consider before buying one? It’s not as difficult as you might think and you just have to stick with the main reason why it’s a good idea to get travel insurance in the first place.
After all, you can’t expect to fully enjoy everything that Nepal has to offer while worrying about what you’re going to do if something does go wrong on your trekking trip (or whatever it is that you’re looking to do in Nepal).
Consider the following factors before you get multi or single trip travel insurance for your trip to Nepal:
Repatriation and Medical Cover
The most important part of any travel insurance policy is emergency medical expenses cover. Typically ranging from £5 million to £10 million – the higher in our case – this covers your costs if you become ill or injured in Nepal and require medical treatment. Imagine getting injured while trekking the Himalayas, requiring a helicopter to airlift you to the nearest hospital or clinic. As you might imagine, the cost of such services can be staggering.
Medical expenses should include repatriation cover. If your condition means you have to return to the UK urgently, then there is a cover for transporting you along with any necessary medical equipment and staff.
Before you leave for Nepal, it’s important to ensure that your travel insurance policy offers enough coverage to pay for emergency medical expenses and repatriation back to the UK.
Here at Emerald Life, we provide personal coverage of up to £10,000,000 with our Nepal travel insurance.
Note that insurance companies have all rights reserved for making changes to their travel cover. Hence, it’s a good idea to carefully check the latest terms and conditions before you sign off on a policy.
Travel Insurance Nepal Cancellation and Curtailment Cover
If you are ill or injured before you travel, then you may have to cancel your trip. Some policies will also cover you if a close relative is ill or injured, or your home is burgled, and you have to cancel as a result. These situations are perfect examples of why it’s a good idea to make sure that your travel insurance comes with cancellation and curtailment cover.
As the name implies, a personal cancellation cover lets you reclaim at least a portion of the money you’ve lost should you need to cancel your trip. For example, let’s say that you’ve already paid for your flight and hotel accommodations in Nepal. Unfortunately, you figured in a car accident a week before your trekking trip which left you unable to push through with your plans.
Cancellation cover can help you recover at least some of the money you’ve paid in preparation for your trip. Note that cancellation cover only applies to specific circumstances that genuinely constitute an emergency. This includes (but not limited to):
- An illness, injury, or the sudden death of a family member, business partner, or travel companion.
- Getting your home burglarised or ravaged by fire, flood, and other natural disasters.
- Unexpectedly getting retrenched or losing your job.
- You are a member of the UK armed forces, police, or medical personnel and have been specifically ordered to cancel your trip to attend to your duties.
- Pregnant for 30+ weeks and ordered by your doctor to cancel your trip to prevent potential complications.
If you expect to make multiple trekking trips to Nepal in a given year, you can probably secure a better deal if you sign up for annual multi-trip travel insurance.
An annual policy will help you save time since you don’t have to reapply before every departure. More importantly, annual multi-trip insurance cost is bound to be cheaper than obtaining numerous single trip policies over the course of a year.
Nepal Travel Insurance Luggage cover
Luggage can get lost when traveling to Nepal, and if that happens, it’ll be a major inconvenience in your travel plans. That’s why you need travel insurance that will reimburse you per day (up to a certain number of days) for the trouble should it happen.
For luggage delays of more than 24 hours, Emerald Life offers baggage cover which serves as compensation for the inconvenience and covers the cost of essential replacement clothing and toiletries if your baggage is delayed on your outward journey, up to the amount specified.
If the luggage is lost (missing for more than 21 days), you’ll be paid the amount stipulated in the luggage cover for the accidental loss, damage, or theft of your baggage and personal effects, up to the amount specified in your luggage cover.
Travel Insurance Nepal Excesses and Exclusions
When it comes to buying travel insurance, people often make the mistake of just looking at the final price. It is likewise important to check on any excesses you have to pay should you need to make a claim on the policy.
Also known as a “deductible”, travel insurance excess refers to the amount that clients need to pay to process a claim on their travel insurance. The only problem is that some travel insurance policies start very cheap but then charge high deductibles. As a result, the claims process can end up being very expensive despite having the insurance.
In some cases, the excesses are so high that it’s not worth claiming the policy. This practice is prevalent among cheap travel insurance policies looking to bait unwary clients with low prices, only to slap them with high deductibles when it’s time to make a claim.
Therefore, make sure you buy a Nepal travel insurance policy that balances a good price with reasonable excesses. Also, there may be other exclusions that reduce the premium precisely because payouts are limited. If you need travel insurance, then it is advisable to make sure that you have the best cover you can afford.
Most travel insurance policies will also include different excesses for different types of claims, and you can find these in your policy documentation. Still, generally, the medical excess is the most significant and the one thing that you would want to look out for. After all, it’s the one thing that matters should you fall ill or get injured while traveling to Nepal.
Do you need a travel insurance policy to visit Nepal?
It can be argued that the real question is — can you afford not to have Nepal travel insurance when you leave for Nepal? After all, there is no way to guarantee that nothing will go wrong during your trip. More so, if your idea of an adventure is climbing the Himalayas, jungle safaris, whitewater rafting or exploring the maze-like streets of Kathmandu.
Again, tourists have no free access to local healthcare services when visiting the country, and private health care can be limited and costly. Without insurance, every medical-related expense, including emergency evacuation, doctor’s appointment, medicines, and hospital confinement will have to come out of your own pocket. As you might imagine, the total cost can be significant.
Nepal travel insurance should cover the cost of treatment if you fall ill or become injured during your travel. This gives you peace of mind while enjoying the wonders of Nepal, confident that you’d be able to get all the help you need without having to worry about whether you can afford it or not. Such assurance is important, especially when engaging in activities in remote regions away from Kathmandu.
While no one expects to get sick or become injured while holidaying in Nepal, accidents can happen. The last thing you need is to be denied local emergency services and medical treatment thousands of miles away from home. If things go south, it’s always helpful to know that you have travel insurance to rely on.