Hikers advised to get insurance against mountaineering accidents
Japan Today -- Sep 11
Reflecting the recent rise of alpine accidents amid the trekking boom in Japan, experts advise hikers to get insurance covering search and rescue expenses, which can be hugely expensive.

There were 2,495 mountaineering accidents across Japan in 2016, the second highest figure since data became available in 1961, according to the National Police Agency. A total of 319 people died or went missing while 1,133 were injured. Nearly 60 percent of the victims were in their 50s or older, according to the NPA.

If police or other public organizations are mobilized in a mountaineering accident, the taxpayer gets the bill for search and rescue operations. But if private rescue teams are called in, the victim must pay the additional costs, which run very high.

A person familiar with private rescue services said, "Deploying a helicopter can cost up to 10,000 yen per minute and daily payments to a rescuer working on a volunteer basis could come to several tens of thousands yen."

A Japan Mountaineering and Sport Climbing Association official said, "Hikers should be fully prepared before going on a trek. On top of that, we strongly suggest that they get insurance coverage."

The association provides a reasonable insurance service that covers rescue costs incurred during trekking and other outdoor activities. The underwriter is Mitsui Sumitomo Insurance Co.

If the insurance policy is bought on a group basis, the insured needs to pay an annual subscription fee of 1,000 yen. The premium is about half the sum needed for an individual contract.

News source: Japan Today
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