A safety net for the adventurous

Black-water rafting? Bungee jumping? You'll need cover

NOW THAT snowboarding has been in the Winter Olympics, it has almost become mainstream. This summer, the latest craze is expected to be desert surfing, with travellers heading off to the deserts, armed only with a surf board to ride the sand dunes. And if you don't fancy that there is always "zorbing", where participants roll down hills in giant plastic balls, cave diving or black-water rafting. Like the more familiar white-water rafting, participants have to negotiate rapids, ravines and waterfalls but black-water routes run through underground caves.

Many people would consider such extreme sports as bordering on the suicidal, but insurance companies are not necessarily so unforgiving. With more people jetting off for adventure holidays and spicing up the nine-to-five routine with a spot of weekend hang-gliding, insurers are increasingly willing to offer cover.

Standard insurance policies sold by travel agents are unlikely to cover these sports. But many other insurers now offer medical cover for adventure sports as standard; others will for an additional premium. However, policies vary enormously and it is worth checking the small print to see exactly which activities are covered.

Insurers have done little research on how risky many of these new "sports" are, so underwriters make subjective judgements about what activities are dangerous. For example, Bupa will cover white-water rafting, but this sport is automatically excluded from Home & Overseas' dangerous sports policy.

Mike McDonald, of General Accident, says: "There seem to be few serious injuries resulting from bungee jumping, especially compared with the number of skiing and rugby injuries we see. But unless we have research to prove otherwise, it seems prudent underwriting to consider a sport where you jump headfirst off a 50m platform with only a piece of elastic round your waist to be hazardous."

Citybond Travel Consultants, an insurance broker, covers a range of activities on its Young Traveller policy. Chris Mansell, marketing director, says: "As long as policyholders inform us of any additional sports they might be doing, we can get in touch with the insurers and arrange this cover, often at no extra cost." These include hot-air ballooning, bungee jumping, high diving, abseiling and white-water rafting.

Bupa TravelCover has also launched an "all-action" holiday plan. This covers activities such as paragliding and jet skiing. But the policy specifies that activities such as hill-trekking and white-water rafting have to be booked and paid for in the UK before departure. Michele da Silva, senior marketing manager, says: "This is to ensure policyholders only participate in sports with qualified instructors and guides."

As well as cover for medical expenses from accidents, it is worth checking that you have public liability cover, particularly if you are jet skiing or water skiing. Most policies, such as Bupa's, do not offer liability for policyholders "when they are behind the wheel of a motorised or moving vehicle". If you crash and injure someone, then you could be sued for their loss of earnings and damages. This omission was highlighted when a British girl was killed in a jet-ski accident in Greece.

As a result, some insurers are now offering this cover. Sue Winston, a spokeswoman for Norwich Union, says liability cover is available on its annual travel policy for water-skiing, but it does require an additional premium levy of around 30 per cent. She adds: "We could negotiate similar liability cover for jet skis." WorldCover Direct also offers full liability cover on travel policies.

But you do not have to go abroad to enjoy dangerous sports. Annual travel policies will often cover hang-gliding or scuba diving in the UK. However, most exclude sports such as bungee jumping and parachuting, which many people take part in for charity or even for fun.

It is not necessary to get insurance if you are bungee jumping in the UK, so long as you go to a club affiliated to the British Elastic Rope Sports Association. David Boston, chairman of the association, says: "We can provide a list of affiliated clubs by post or on the internet." Most accredited parachuting schools will operate a similar policy.

Suggested Topics
people'It can last and it's terrifying'
Danny Welbeck's Manchester United future is in doubt
footballStriker in talks over £17m move from Manchester United
Louis van Gaal, Radamel Falcao, Arturo Vidal, Mats Hummels and Javier Hernandez
footballFalcao, Hernandez, Welbeck and every deal live as it happens
footballFeaturing Bart Simpson
Kelly Brook
peopleA spokesperson said the support group was 'extremely disappointed'
The five geckos were launched into space to find out about the effects of weightlessness on the creatures’ sex lives
Andy Murray celebrates a shot while playing Jo-Wilfried Tsonga
TennisWin sets up blockbuster US Open quarter-final against Djokovic
Life and Style
techIf those brochure kitchens look a little too perfect to be true, well, that’s probably because they are
Arts and Entertainment
Alex Kapranos of Franz Ferdinand performs live
music Pro-independence show to take place four days before vote
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
news Video - hailed as 'most original' since Benedict Cumberbatch's
Life and Style
The longer David Sedaris had his Fitbit, the further afield his walks took him through the West Sussex countryside
lifeDavid Sedaris: What I learnt from my fitness tracker about the world
Arts and Entertainment
Word master: Self holds up a copy of his novel ‘Umbrella’
boksUnlike 'talented mediocrity' George Orwell, you must approach this writer dictionary in hand
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

SQL Implementation Consultant (VB,C#, SQL, Java, Eclipse, integ

£40000 - £50000 per annum + benefits+bonus+package: Harrington Starr: SQL Impl...

Head of IT (Windows, Server, VMware, SAN, Fidessa, Equities)

£85000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Head of IT (Windows, Server, VMware, SAN, ...

Technical Software Consultant (Excel, VBA, SQL, JAVA, Oracle)

£40000 - £50000 per annum: Harrington Starr: You will not be expected to hav...

SQL DBA/Developer

£500 per day: Harrington Starr: SQL DBA/Developer SQL, C#, VBA, Data Warehousi...

Day In a Page

Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

The big names to look for this fashion week

This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York
Will Self: 'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

Will Self takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Toy guns proving a popular diversion in a country flooded with the real thing
Al Pacino wows Venice

Al Pacino wows Venice

Ham among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
Neil Lawson Baker interview: ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.

Neil Lawson Baker interview

‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.
The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

The model for a gadget launch

Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

Get well soon, Joan Rivers

She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

As the collections start, fashion editor Alexander Fury finds video and the internet are proving more attractive
Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy

Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall...

... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy
Weekend at the Asylum: Europe's biggest steampunk convention heads to Lincoln

Europe's biggest steampunk convention

Jake Wallis Simons discovers how Victorian ray guns and the martial art of biscuit dunking are precisely what the 21st century needs
Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Lying is dangerous and unnecessary. A new book explains the strategies needed to avoid it. John Rentoul on the art of 'uncommunication'
Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough? Was the beloved thespian the last of the cross-generation stars?

Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough?

The atomisation of culture means that few of those we regard as stars are universally loved any more, says DJ Taylor