Two months before I go to Nepal, this story blows up and major travel insurers threaten to pull their cover unless Nepal puts a stop to helicopter rescue insurance fraud.
First on twitter:
— Mark Horrell (@markhorrell) August 29, 2018
Insurance companies threaten to stop coverage in Nepal after AFP report and Gov’t investigation found rampant insurance fraud by some Nepali helicopter companies, guides, hospitals https://t.co/wEvqCDKAVV
— Alan Arnette (@alan_arnette) August 29, 2018
Then in the wider press:
- Nepal cracks down on lucrative helicopter rescue scams – The Guardian, 03 September 2018
- Near Everest’s Slopes, a Helicopter Rescue Fraud Preys on Trekkers – The New York Times, 04 September 2018
Here’s the original story, by Annabel Symington, AFP’s Nepal Bureau Chief:
Tourists hiking in Nepal’s Himalayan mountains are being pressured unnecessary helicopter rescues by brokers who are profiting from the insurance payouts.
After months of work, my investigation for @AFP is out. https://t.co/skHrKpHDH8
— Annabel Symington (@A_Symington) June 28, 2018
and some of follow up coverage:
I spent 9 months investigating insurance fraud in Nepal. The govt wraps up its investigation in 6 weeks. But have they done enough to stop global travel insurers from pulling out? My latest on the scam for @AFP https://t.co/bb5YKB68oU
— Annabel Symington (@A_Symington) August 22, 2018
Search and Rescue in Nepal will now have oversight by a committee but still conducted by guides, funded by insurance companies when applicable. Centralized SAR by Nepal Police idea scrapped. https://t.co/igbwtf4vL4
— Alan Arnette (@alan_arnette) September 3, 2018
All of which brings back memories of our enforced helicopter ride from unlovely Lukla to KTM back in 2011 which marred the end of the otherwise wonderful Three High Passes to Everest trek. A different scam, but still a scam involving trekking tourists and helicopters.
In the meantime (and looking ahead!) I’m starting on my kitlist spreadsheet, checking Air India’s baggage allowance (2 x 23kg – should be plenty!!) and gradually getting my USD from Thomas Exchange Global. Turns out they can provide Nepalese Rupees too.
Update – 18 September 2018
Annabel Symington’s blogpost on her investigation into helicopter rescue fraud in Nepal:
— Annabel Symington (@A_Symington) September 18, 2018