grand canyon evac insurance? - Mountain Buzz

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Old 08-29-2017   #1
debeque, Colorado
Join Date: Mar 2013
Posts: 31
grand canyon evac insurance?

Did a MB search and found nothing recent,covering med evac insurance from canyon rim(NPS will haul you up there,then you must get to med flight/care on your own).Talking to AAA/Allianz Travel Ins Co,was an exercise in frustration---claims dept was "too busy" to give a final word whether or not the Grand is a "high risk activity" and qualifies under their fine print "exclusions"---their suggestion was to buy the 30 day policy, then submit paperwork on any accident,that puts you on rim,and then see if it qualifies/gets paid.....roll the dice.

Found nothing on gcpba site,either!Am i the only one interested in this?

Tom Martin---can you weigh in on this?

Anyone have better intel/current experience with a different company?

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Old 08-29-2017   #2
Join Date: Feb 2005
Posts: 1,000

The Park will get you to the rim at no cost.

If further transport is needed for additional treatment -- by air or land -- that is on the patient.

Hope this helps.

Rich Phillips
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Old 08-29-2017   #3
Salt Lake City, Utah
Paddling Since: 1969
Join Date: Apr 2009
Posts: 358
GCPBA used to have a couple of links for medevac insurance but maybe no longer. Try diver's insurance, last ditch see about mountaineering medevac (pricey).
For comparison, had to evac my son from Lower Tuna (flip in Crystal, dislocated shoulder) in 2014. (My first and only evac in 40+ years and 30+ GC trips.) Lift to South Rim was courtesy NPS, ambulance bill for ground transport to Flagstaff was over $3k, our very comprehensive (and usually generous) health insurance stuck us with over $2k bill on ambulance as provider (the only one licensed by Coconino County) was "out of network." Medevac insurance would have benn wise...
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Old 08-29-2017   #4
debeque, Colorado
Join Date: Mar 2013
Posts: 31
Appreciate any help

richp--i knew about the expense after the rim,was on the boater,all along---trying to keep it off TL,as regs seem to state,if boater fails to step up,for any reason.

B4---it was that exact story,we all want to avoid,and i hope you never have to go thru that again. Felt trip insurance was a good investment,in piece of mind.

Started looking specifically online for "grand canyon river trip med evac insurance" and ending with all of us chasing generic "trip insurance" thru the car insurance/AARP we had,for their posted "medical evac/coverage"---wasnt worried about the trip cancellation,etc, end of it.

So,again i start w/my car ins agent(not local,but this travel policy links to their site easily....),who seem to cant answer the"high risk activity" exclusion question(just heard of it from them,then--written up front for mtn climbing,scuba,parachuting,etc,right off the top---but subject to their opening to other sport?).I asked claims to clear it up.

Then transferred to the actual underwriting insurers,(It became even murkier,when i threw in, it was all private).where you'd think it was the first time,they had heard of a private Grand trip,and claims was "too busy",to answer the exclusion question,once and for all,now---"buy the policy and roll the dice" was the advice given.I thought i could get a simple Y/N answer,before purchasing a policy that maybe wouldn't work......

Hoping someone can cut thru the haze and put me in right direction to an agent who sells these 30 day policies,if they exist;OR if its just common knowledge,that insurers treat the private Grand raft trip,as an "untouchable"?Thanx
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Old 08-29-2017   #5
Join Date: Feb 2005
Posts: 1,000
Hi lilbill,

IIRC, I used to recommend Travelex for folks on my trips whose regular healthcare policy wouldn't cover the second stage of an evacuation -- or if they had no other coverage at all. But that was some time ago, and their coverages quite likely could have changed.

I'm not sure how the Park could somehow impose a payment requirement on the permit holder, to satisfy the subsequent financial obligation for an event that took place outside the Canyon on someone other than the PH. Perhaps there are concrete examples, but I haven't heard any.


Rich Phillips
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Old 08-29-2017   #6
debeque, Colorado
Join Date: Mar 2013
Posts: 31
from the regs...

This section causes pause...

page 8/section G---"the costs of an inner canyon rescue are covered by the tax payer,however ground transport&supporting commercial aeromedical transportation is the financial responsibility of the patient.The Trip Leader/permittee will be responsible for the cost if the passenger is unable to pay.
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Old 08-29-2017   #7
Durango, Colorado
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 423
I used AIG Travel Guard with the sports rider when I went since I was uninsured at the time. As stated above, evacs to the rim are covered, but you are responsible for any emergency transportation beyond that.

I've also used the Diver Alert Network travel insurance for other trips as well. Luckily have never had to use either.
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Old 08-29-2017   #8
Jenks, Oklahoma
Join Date: Oct 2004
Posts: 1,730
Accidents in the Grand Canyon

I went thru the full bore routine as far as near death accident, evuac, life saving surgery and rehab.

Bottom line. I am probably the most unlucky boater to have a serious accident at Horn Creek rapid. A very narrow canyon.

The raft captain whose raft I was on, had a sat phone in her captain's box. She immediately called the rangers and made contact. She was given a pickup point a mile or so down stream the only spot for a chopper to land and the only chopper they had with the power and size to land there was gassed up and on the pad. We had a just retired St Louis Fire Department Rescue Paramedic along. He was key to my survival. He said I had the lowest B/P of any patient he had worked on his career to live. The chopper got there in about an hour. Landed with the tail out over the river. They had another paramedic on board and our paramedic and the ranger paramedic worked together to package me up. I was unconscious in and out did come to for a minute or so on take off. At the rim, I was aware for seconds being transferred to another chopper then back to sleep. Was awake at the Flag Medical Center for a few seconds when Dr John Hall was in my face saying "Son, I am going to put you back together". The next time I was awake was next afternoon when my daughter and wife were bent over me saying wake up.

I had on river professional care, sat phone that worked, a chopper ready to go, experts to get me to the hospital and on a late friday afternoon a surgeon that my nurse told me later on was the finest one in the four corners was at the hospital. I cannot say enough praise for the total professionalism the GC Rangers gave me. Dr Hall was a USAF flight surgeon and he along with his team did put me back together. I was out the entire time but they figured out what was torn up and did what was needed to keep me alive for more surgery.

Bottom line for all this is no matter how much you prepare, pure luck is probably the key thing you need to survive a near death accident in the GC.

I had two extraction policies and excellent regular medical insurance.

I was in Flagstaff Hospital for some three plus weeks flat on my back and in a rehab hospital in Prescott for another three plus weeks before I could be flown back to Tulsa. I was in a wheel chair and needed a RN escort.

Major personal damage was crushed femur, crushed pelvis, two crushed vertebrae, broken tibia on the other leg, 12 fractures in my rib cage and most life threatening internal GI tract damage and bruised to the max.

One of my extraction policies was called but not used as the Rangers got me off the river. The other policy was called and as part of that one was supposed to air lift me home. They did but it took a herculean job by my daughter (working in the medical field at the time and lots of contacts) to get them to do the transfer back to a hospital in Tulsa. The medical insurance I had carried the brunt of the medical costs.

My experience told me that the good feelings I had with two extraction policies made me feel good. Getting them to pay out for me took professional help with the claim process. My advice is read the small print in the policy and expect to be held 110 percent to doing every thing in the small print perfectly and documented to the maximum. Remember you may not be able to make even simple decisions during the initial time you are hurt.

I am not going to discuss these extraction policies except to say that if you need to actually use them, know the fine print and follow it to the max.

Bottom line, for being unlucky that day, I am the most lucky person ever in the rehab process. Which took a couple years extensive rehab but I am now back boating. My wife and daughter, put me boating the Grand Canyon off limits. My macho mind sometimes sez go back, but being in a wheel chair for an extended time left considerable memory cells saying do not push your luck again.

Life is good! Give thanks for the time we have on rivers.
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Old 08-29-2017   #9
plainfield, New Jersey
Paddling Since: 1995
Join Date: Apr 2016
Posts: 92
Just got off a trip that left lees on 7/5... I discovered two inexpensive options, one through the garmin inReach (they had an insurance package available too) and through a company called Travel Insurance Select
I went with travel insurance select, for me (45) and son (15) the premium was based on address, trip cost and age, for 500000 dollars of evac coverage it was 137 dollars for the two of us, which was extremely inexpensive, I would still be using my health insurance for the medical, but it addressed my concern of the evac. With a higher premium (around 207) they would start to include health coverage as well. They were very easy to work with, and I had things in place pretty quick, if I did not use them, I think the garmin coverage would have been a good purchase too.

Okieboater... dang, that was a really really bad day at Horn Creek. I am glad you are back on the water. On our trip we met someone who really jacked up an ankle scouting Horn on the right...
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Old 08-29-2017   #10
Bayfield, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1980
Join Date: Sep 2010
Posts: 282
Insurance companies as a whole really piss me off. You pay them lots of money for years and when you really need them to come through for you, (isn't that what we pay premiums for) they say "well you didn't cross every t and dot every i so we wont pay. Why should you have to hire (at your initial expense) a professional to help you get something you rightfully have coming to you. It's total bullshit. As a whole insurance companies business model goes like this. 1 Take their money. 2 Deny the claim. Repeat. It is a business that is based on the FACT that most people when confronted with the BS that it takes to get a major claim paid will usually just go away. Ever tried to get a major claim paid without hiring a lawyer. Fugitaboutit. They will not take you seriously. So you hire a lawyer (who customarily takes 35% of any settlement) to get what is rightfully yours. As I said, its total bullshit.
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