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Old 08-17-2019, 07:06 AM   #1
wiiawiwb
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Air/helicopter evacuation insurance

I'm trying to determine whether to get backcountry insurance in case I have an emergency and need to be air lifted to a hospital. Has anyone looked into available insurers?

There is travel insurance which some people get that cover a specific trip such as a trek to the basecamp of Everest. I'm concerned about getting air/helicopter evacuation insurance to cover times while hiking/backpacking in the Adirondacks.

I've heard of this type of insurance but can't find any insurers from which to get a quote. Any help with this would be appreciated.
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Old 08-17-2019, 08:27 AM   #2
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I believe that if you have good medical insurance it could be covered by it. Might want to check with them.
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Old 08-17-2019, 08:34 AM   #3
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Have you heard of someone in NYS getting billed for an evacuation? Even when the accident is caused by the complete idiocy or unpreparedness of the individual being rescued, I believe the ride is still coming out of the pockets of NYS taxpayers.
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Old 08-17-2019, 09:17 AM   #4
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Lucky 13 is correct. Only in Europe are hikers/climbers routinely charged for their rescues, but most hiking/alpine clubs provide insurance with their membership.

New Hampshire has a "Hike Safe" card which will pay for rescue costs; but there are exceptions if the hiker's "gross negligence" is what caused the need for rescue. I think i'm correct in saying the charge is not for the rescue but a fine for endangering the safety of the rescuers. And you can't buy insurance to cover a fine.

If someone from New Hampshire has a different explanation, I'd like to hear it; but I'm pretty sure that, at least before the Hike Safe card, what I said above was correct.
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Old 08-17-2019, 09:53 AM   #5
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I have not heard one way or the other about people getting billed in NYS. That is why I'm trying to find out more. I'd rather determine the potential liability now, if any, and evaluate the cost/benefit of insuring it.

Hikers/hunters in Alaska talk about getting backcountry extraction insurance through LifeMed and people in the Pacific NW, Idaho, and Montana getting it though LifeFlight.

http://www.lifemedalaska.com/

https://www.lifeflight.org/http://
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Old 08-17-2019, 11:56 AM   #6
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I have purchased New Hampshire's "HikeSafe"card for three years and am familiar with the rules of the game.

If you have no coverage, this from the NH Fish and Game site https://www.nhfishandgame.com/HikeSafe.aspx:

"Pursuant to RSA 206:26-bb I, Any person determined by the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department to have acted negligently and requiring a search and rescue response by the Department shall be liable to the Department for the reasonable cost of the Department’s expenses for such search and rescue response."

This is not a fine, you pay the whole expense - for a chopper ride a small mortgage.

New Hampshire draws a considerable line in the sand between "negligent" and "reckless" behaviour.

If you do have coverage through a NH HikeSafe card, fishing/game license, off-trail machine license or boat registration, all provide the same protection namely relieving you from liability for search and rescue expenses even if the S&R cause was deemed to be due to negligence.

However, from the same Fish and Game site, even if you purchased the card or licenses above "It is important to note that people may still be liable for response expenses, if they are deemed to be reckless or to have intentionally created a situation requiring an emergency response."
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Old 08-17-2019, 02:40 PM   #7
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Another example is MedJet. You can choose a plan BUT you must be traveling more than 150 miles from home. So, if this is intended for hiking/backpacking in the Adirondacks , you must live in Boston, NYC, Montreal, Rochester, and beyond. If you live inside the 150 mile line, it won't work for you.

https://medjetassist.com/docs/defaul...rsn=3ad8ce36_6

Global Rescue provides services but you must be traveling at least 100 miles from home. Cost looked to be around $360/year. Also in the Member Services Agreement it says:

"Company shall not be under any obligation to provide Medical Transport Services if, in Company’s sole discretion: (i) the Traveling Member is not reasonably accessible and cannot be transported safely or is located in a region that is not safely accessible.."

In my opinion, a lot of language, such as "reasonably" and "safely", that provides an out on their part.

https://www.globalrescue.com/grmkt_r...r&source=grcom

The reason we want to buy insurance in the first place IS to cover the cost of a transport in an area that may not be easy to get to.

Last edited by wiiawiwb; 08-17-2019 at 03:08 PM..
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Old 08-17-2019, 03:34 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by Lucky13 View Post
Have you heard of someone in NYS getting billed for an evacuation? Even when the accident is caused by the complete idiocy or unpreparedness of the individual being rescued, I believe the ride is still coming out of the pockets of NYS taxpayers.
Look up Carl Skalak.
I remember the freak early November 2003 snowstorm when this happened.

https://www.vftt.org/forums/showthre...-Beacon-rescue

https://www.amazon.com/At-Mercy-Moun.../dp/1599213044

WEBB, N.Y. (AP) -- An instructional technology manager at a community college who became the first person in the contiguous United States rescued by a new satellite locator system has done it again.

Only this time, after his second rescue from the Adirondack wilderness, Carl J. Skalak, 55, of Cleveland was greeted by officers, who charged him with two counts of third-degree falsely reporting an incident. He was arraigned and posted $10,000 bail.

A helicopter from Fort Drum military base lifted Skalak out of the Five Ponds Wilderness Area. the site of his Nov. 14 rescue.

After the first rescue, Skalak, an instructional technology manager at Cuyahoga Community College in Parma, said he planned to return to retrieve his canoe and other gear, the Watertown Daily Times reported. That trip led to his arrest, said Stephen W. Litwhiler, spokesman for the state Department of Environmental Conservation.

The distress signal prompted a search involving 13 forest rangers, who were initially unable to reach Skalak due to lake-effect snows, Litwhiler said. The next day, DEC officers arrested him, he said.

Skalak may still be in New York after posting bail, his father, Carl Skalak Sr., told the paper. Available since July, the electronic beacons are small-scale versions of those used by boaters and pilots. They send distress signals through a satellite run by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.



The idiot went back to retrieve his canoe a couple of weeks after his first rescue and pressed the "help me" button again from the same place. He never did find his canoe. I have been to the exact location where he panicked. It is a fairly easy passage back to the road along the edge of the marsh. There is actually a hunter's trail in the woods on high ground not far from the marsh that the river passes through. With decent navigation skills (which he did not have), if he had explored a bit and used a compass he should have easily found his way out.

I think I heard in the end that he was essentially let off the hook with an in significant fine.
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Old 08-17-2019, 04:14 PM   #9
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Thanks Wldrns.

I just stumbled across this article which is less than two years old:

https://www.newyorkupstate.com/outdo...r_rescues.html

"It is a long-held view that search and rescues are an essential lifesaving service the state and DEC provides, and New York State does not bill individuals for the service. Plus, DEC believes that if the state billed or fined hikers for rescues, people would be more reluctant to call for help, thus creating more potentially dangerous situations," the DEC said.

"Neil Woodworth, executive director of the Adirondack Mountain Club, said his club hasn't discussed the issue of fees for lost hikers because the DEC's reasoning "is deep into the psychology and principal upon which the forest rangers are built. Search and rescue is their most important responsibility, the reason they exist.""

I would hope that because they are on record as having this policy, they would alert the public when, and if, their policy ever changes.
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Old 08-17-2019, 06:04 PM   #10
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Serious injuries and accidents requiring ranger assistance are one thing.
But, From the article above:
"However, there always seems to be those individuals who fail to bring a compass and water, are under-dressed or lack snowshoes or cross country skies (or don't know how to use them) for winter outings."

Being unprepared is another thing, mostly due to inexperience and haste. Injuries may also fall into this category.

“Good decisions come from experience, and experience comes from bad decisions.”
- Rita Mae Brown

“... haste can do nothing with these hills. I knew when I had looked for a long time that I had hardly begun to see.”
― Nan Shepherd, The Living Mountain: A Celebration of the Cairngorm Mountains of Scotland

However, what ever happened to the days when a navigationally confused backcountry woodsman would have a seat on a log, eat a sandwich and figure out in a few minutes his location with his own brain power and map? I don't see much of that happening these days in some of the DEC ranger reports. Of course you don't hear about the ones who are successfully doing that, which is the whole point of the matter. As for myself, I taught myself the finer points of land navigation over the years by making many mistakes, embracing them, and learning from each one.

As a NYSFEDSAR volunteer responding to SAR calls working with DEC rangers, I don't know any other volunteers who don't like to be called out to do a wildlands search. Once in a while I have been in process of either preparing my gear to go, or actually been on the road headed to the site when I received a call to stand down because the subject has already been found. Aww shucks, while that is a good thing, I have been thwarted again and can't go out to do my job. Other than some of the higher cost crew equipment (radios, GPS, etc) general expenses to travel and participate are on me.
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Last edited by Wldrns; 08-18-2019 at 11:32 AM..
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Old 08-18-2019, 07:43 AM   #11
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People are not allowed to carry firearms with the intention of harvesting game in NYS without taking a Hunter Safety Course first. At least for being in these deep woods in the winter, maybe it is time to start requiring training.
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Old 08-18-2019, 09:48 AM   #12
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I’m curious, as mentioned taking a Hunters Safety Course is required for gun hunting, what other training should be required? The North County hunting seasons do extend out to 3/29 for Coyotes, 3/15 for Snowshoe & Cotton Tail, 2/29 for Squirrels & Ruffed Grouse this would include winter going into Spring. Other training a lot of woodsmen have is required safety training for a NYS Pistol Permit & additional training for a non restricted permit in a lot of county’s including mine, a 2 day live fire training at a cost of $200 at the time. Also, a lot of us do have Military training, yikes how much more do we need??
Also, I haven’t seen mentioned in this thread the recent rescue of a distressed 64 year old hiker at Cedar Lake by Helms Aero Service on 8/05/19. Just curious.
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Old 08-18-2019, 10:53 AM   #13
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The point of Hunter Safety is to make the hunter aware of his/her responsibilities to themselves, others, and their quarry. Making an individual prove that they know how to use a map and compass, and understand the " rules of the road" might cut down on the number of SAR calls being received, and the costs that are off-loaded on taxpayers.
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Old 08-19-2019, 08:05 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by Jack View Post
Iím curious, as mentioned taking a Hunters Safety Course is required for gun hunting, what other training should be required? The North County hunting seasons do extend out to 3/29 for Coyotes, 3/15 for Snowshoe & Cotton Tail, 2/29 for Squirrels & Ruffed Grouse this would include winter going into Spring. Other training a lot of woodsmen have is required safety training for a NYS Pistol Permit & additional training for a non restricted permit in a lot of countyís including mine, a 2 day live fire training at a cost of $200 at the time. Also, a lot of us do have Military training, yikes how much more do we need??
Also, I havenít seen mentioned in this thread the recent rescue of a distressed 64 year old hiker at Cedar Lake by Helms Aero Service on 8/05/19. Just curious.
A large part of the Hunter Safety program is gun safety. The problem is that you can teach for weeks but once the person leaves the class it's up to them to act accordingly. If you look at most of the incidents involving guns in the woods you will find that almost every one of them didnt do what they were taught to do.
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Old 08-19-2019, 08:14 AM   #15
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Gun safety is a couple hours of a twelve hour course. The curriculum has been updated greatly, and the precourse covers a LOT more than the course did 40 years ago. I found it to be very valuable, aside from not being able to find an old license!

Hunting accidents have been running at all time lows. SAR incidents are running at all time highs. Maybe better if an occasional sleeper gets through a class than just releasing a whole lot of totally unedumacated "Facebook Fools" into the woods.
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Old 08-19-2019, 09:07 AM   #16
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Insider's view

General contribution but also specific response to wiiawiwb's comment. I work for Global Rescue and have enjoyed the north-east trails all my life - the ADKs as a kid and young adult and now NH's Whites as a not-so-young adult and parent. Yes, Global Rescue (and really every other evacuation service) has "out" language in its terms and conditions. But observationally speaking, looking back at the ~20,000 operations the company has done over its 15 year history, the only times GR hasn't jumped into immediate action is if doing so would seriously endanger the lives of those doing the rescue itself... and that's exceedingly rare. ie - a high-altitude Himilayan rescue during a major snowstorm. In general, other than the excluded areas (US Stat Department-defined war zones and the polar regions), if you can get there, we can get you out. That's not generally the case with other services that only provide medical transport once you're in a doctor's care. Also, a point of clarification that GR is a membership organization rather than an insurance company. The key difference is, if a GR member needs assistance, that member contacts GR and then it's on us to handle the situation. No expense beyond the membership fee that's already been paid and no need to figure out how to find the right help. By contrast, if someone has travel insurance and needs assistance, that person needs to find help, pay for the service out of pocket, and then submit a claim for reimbursement. Big difference when you're in trouble and need help. Finally, the GR perimeter of exclusion is 100 miles from home rather than 150 miles. Not trying to push a product here but just providing clarity.
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Old 08-19-2019, 04:41 PM   #17
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Michael - that was very helpful and thank you for elucidating. One issue I see is that in some parts of the Adirondacks there is no cell service and the person needing help/rescue will not be able to reach GR to set things in motion.

If cell service is available, the call is made to GR and your folks jump into action, can the member rest assured an invoice won't arrive at some point in the future?
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Old 08-19-2019, 04:47 PM   #18
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Lucky13-- I am going to ask that you don't get this thread heading in another direction which is about emergency helicopter rescue services. If you want to start a discussion about hunter safety courses and guns, that's fine, but kindly do so in a separate thread.

Mixing another subject matter with the original topic only serves to create disjointed confusion. Thank you.
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Old 08-20-2019, 09:09 AM   #19
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It's not often these days that a post is deleted that isn't spam, but the last one was. Keep it pleasant folks...
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Old 08-20-2019, 10:12 AM   #20
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NY State does not charge for helicopter evacuations. To some extent, these are written off as "training exercises," as well as the cost of business in simply having a helicopter available. The DEC uses the State Police helicopter, not only for rescues but also for maintaining backcountry infrastructure (i.e., bringing supplies into the backcountry for trail/campsite/lean-to maintenance). The pilots need to fly on a fairly regular basis to maintain their proficiency in doing so- which means that the helicopter is going up somewhat regularly, regardless of whether it is needed or not. Accordingly, the State Police and the DEC have a long-standing good relationship that allows the DEC to somewhat regularly put the helicopter to use for the above-mentioned purposes. (All of this is an over-simplification of how it actually works, but in general terms is accurate enough.)

In the case of Carl Skalak, it's important to note that this was not a bill for being rescued levied by the executive branch of gov't, but rather a fine for breaking the law levied by the judicial branch of gov't. There is an important distinction between the two.

It's also important to note that the above covers only the DEC's involvement in a rescue. Any medical assistance (including transportation) that doesn't come from the DEC could incur costs. I.e., if you get carried out of the woods, there's no cost for being hauled out on a chariot driven by a team of rangers, but if an ambulance needs to meet you at the trailhead, there could be a cost for that. (I've heard anecdotal stories of Canadians driving themselves back across the border with broken appendages to avoid financially supporting America's broken healthcare system- no idea if these stories are true but it wouldn't surprise me if at least a few have done it.)

Remember too that the helicopter is never the first choice for backcountry extraction. It's a high risk method of getting someone out of the woods, and generally speaking, the DEC would rather carry someone out if doing so can be safely undertaken, even if it takes longer and requires more personnel. The helicopter is generally only used in the event of a life-threatening injury, or if a carry out has a high risk of causing additional injury to the rescuers involved. (I'm also aware of at least one rescue where a hiker with a broken leg voluntarily went out of the backcountry under their own power with the aid of a pair of crutches.)

I also understand that the DEC is not entirely adverse to using float planes as a safer alternative for backcountry evacuation if the opportunity to use one exists. Because this would be through a private company, I can't say that there wouldn't be an added cost to the injured party there.

Obviously, none of the above is necessarily set in stone and any of this could be subject to change. And perhaps most importantly, the knowledge that if you ever needed to be flown out of the Adirondack backcountry that there is likely going to be no cost for the ride is in no way a substitution for proper experience, skill, and preparedness.

------------------------------------------------------

Not directly related to any of the above but interesting information nonetheless. The DEC did in fact at one point have their own helicopters, with pilots who were also DEC employees. I once had a conversation with an "old timer" ranger who had started working for the Department in the late 70's, and at the time, many of the DEC's pilots were Vietnam veterans. As a direct result of their service experience, these pilots had psychological blocks that prevented them from ever flying more than a few hundred feet above tree level- anywhere. Said ranger related that the pilots were incredibly proficient fliers, and because the flights were always low and fast, any time he went up in a helicopter for work he was guaranteed to experience a wild, knuckle-gripping ride.
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