Mountain hikers in Japan urged to take out insurance

Spike in mountain accidents leads to targeted search and rescue insurance products

Mountain hikers in Japan urged to take out insurance

Insurance News

By Gabriel Olano

With hiking and trekking become more popular in Japan, the number of mountain accidents is rising, prompting experts to advise hikers to take out insurance covering search and rescue expenses in case of an emergency.

Data from the National Police Agency showed that there were 2,495 mountaineering accidents in 2016, the second-highest figure since collection of statistics began in 1961. There were 319 people who died or were never found, while 1,113 were injured.

Search and rescue operations launched by the police and other public organisations are funded by taxpayer money. But private rescue teams, if that option is chose, are paid for by the victim or their family, and it can be very expensive.

“Deploying a helicopter can cost up to ¥10,000 (US$89) per minute and daily payments per rescuer could come to tens of thousands of yen,” a person knowledgeable with private rescue services was quoted by Kyodo.

Meanwhile, an official of the Japan Mountaineering and Sport Climbing Association added: “Hikers should be fully prepared before going on a trek. On top of that, we strongly suggest that they get insurance coverage.”

The association offers an insurance policy covering search and rescue services for incidents related to hiking and other outdoor activities. The policy is underwritten Mitsui Sumitomo Insurance Co.

Several other firms have insurance targeted at outdoor adventurers. Mount-bell Co., an Osaka-based outdoor clothing and equipment brand, also markets mountaineering insurance, in cooperation with Fuji Fire and Marine Insurance Co. Japan Rescue Organization LLC also has a mutual insurance program covering its members.

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