Nepal: Fraudsters hit insurers with costly helicopter evacuations
Source: Asia Insurance Review | Aug 2018
Dodgy operators are scamming tens of thousands of dollars from insurance companies by making multiple claims for a single chopper ride or pushing climbers to accept airlifts for minor illnesses, an investigation by the news agency AFP has revealed.
In other cases, trekking guides, who are promised commission if they get tourists to return by chopper, are offering helicopter rides to tired hikers as a quick way home but billing them as rescues to insurance companies.
“It is a racket that is tantamount to fraud, and it is happening on a large scale,” said UK-based Traveller Assist’s Jonathan Bancroft.
Trekking outfits stand to make more in kickbacks from evacuating a hiker by helicopter than the cost of the trek itself, contributing to an alarming rise in rescues from the Himalayas.
Traveller Assist said 2017 was the most expensive year on record for travel insurance companies covering tourists in Nepal due to a startling number of helicopter rescues – though this year is on track to beat it.
Multiple insurance companies linked to one major UK-based underwriter are considering no longer offering travel insurance for Nepal, an industry source said.
Meanwhile, Nepal’s tourism ministry has launched an investigation. A