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    3 Jul 2023
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    Hiking and trekking not only help in relaxing the mind and improving physical fitness, but it also allows people to rediscover the beauty of their own country. As more people engage in hiking activities, the number of hiking accidents has also increased. According to the Hong Kong Fire Services Department's 2021 work report, there were 951 mountain rescue incidents, an increase of 58% compared to 602 in 2020, with 598 people injured and 14 fatalities1.

    What are some common hiking accidents?

    Hiking and trekking not only help in relaxing the mind and improving physical fitness, but it also allows people to rediscover the beauty of their own country. As more people engage in hiking activities, the number of hiking accidents has also increased.

    Unforeseen circumstances can take place as we hike no matter how prepared you may be. For those who want to have peace of mind as they hike, one may consider getting some additional financial protection. However, should you purchase medical insurance or personal accident insurance? This article will talk about the common types of hiking accidents,and compare medical insurance and accident insurance to help you decide how to choose the most suitable protection.

    There are three common types of hiking accidents:

    1. Twisted and sprained ankles

    One of the most common hiking accidents among novice hikers is twisted and sprained ankles2. Accidentally stepping on loose rocks or meeting with uneven mountain roads can cause ankle sprains. One way to prevent ankle injuries is to have the proper hiking equipment such as high-top hiking boots as it can provide sufficient grip and foot support3

    If you happen to sprain your ankle while hiking, stop hiking immediately and find another way to descend the mountain. You can also use hiking poles when descending. After descending, rest and seek the appropriate first aid treatment. If your ankle’s condition does not improve after first aid, it may be necessary to see a doctor or even be hospitalized. People who have previously sprained their ankles may have a chance of spraining their ankle again as their ligaments are injured, making the ankle unstable for a long period of time. Thus, it is important to have ample rest and engage in rehabilitation after each injury to reduce the chance of a repeated injury.

    2. Abrasions on hands and feet

    On top of sprains, suffering from scrapes and abrasions on your hands and feet are common injuries in hiking accidents. This is especially so when attempting more challenging hiking routes where hikers may need to use their hands and feet to climb and grab trees or rocks. They may sometimes even have to cut through the forest. Without the proper equipment and clothing, it is easy to scrape and bleed on your hand and feet. These scrapes could also leave scars. It is best for novice hikers to avoid challenging hiking routes for their safety.

    3. Heat stroke and dehydration

    When hiking in a hot and humid climate, heat stroke and dehydration are common in hiking accidents4. Hikers should prepare enough water and electrolytes to prevent dehydration and take precautions to avoid their body from overheating. This could include wearing light-coloured breathable clothing and avoid hiking during the hottest time of the day.

    What else can you do to protect yourself during hiking besides preparing suitable equipment? One way would be to protect yourself financially. Before deciding which insurance to purchase, you should first understand the nature of two common types of insurance: personal accident insurance and medical insurance5,6.

    Personal accident insurance Medical insurance

    Coverage

    • Accidental death
    • Permanent disability
    • Medical expenses for treatment
    • Hospitalisation and other medical expenses
    • Cash compensation for each day you are hospitalised

    Compensation basis

    • Accidental injury caused by sudden external incidents
    • Medical expenses within the scope of coverage

    Compensation method

    Generally divided into two types:

    • One-time compensation: Given for accidental death or amputation; permanent disability
    • Compensation for related medical expenses caused by accidents, such as hospitalisation expenses or outpatient expenses such as traumatic injuries, can be claimed on the basis of actual reimbursement
    • Based on medical expenses incurred, when the insured person suffers from a disease or injury within the scope of coverage of the policy, they can claim the corresponding medical expenses.

    Common exclusions

    • Routine health check-up
    • Suicide
    • Participating in risky activities
    • Routine health check-up
    • Plastic surgery
    • Participating in risky activities

    Should you choose accident or medical insurance for financial protection when hiking?

    Medical and personal accident insurance are different in nature. Most medical insurance policies only provide coverage for surgical expenses and hospitalisation. If the insured suffers from an injury which does not require any hospitalisation, but only requires outpatient treatment, most medical insurance policies will not provide compensation. Furthermore, medical insurance can only protect the insured person's relevant medical expenses by the actual cost method.

    In the unfortunate event that the insured person passes away or becomes permanently disabled, the medical insurance is not able to help financially in terms of the long-term living needs of the insured and their loved ones. On the other hand, personal accident insurance can provide a lump-sum cash payout to help the insured person and their family members alleviate the sudden economic difficulties. One should carefully evaluate their insurance needs before deciding which insurance to purchase. They should also check if they are able to purchase both medical and personal accident insurance at the same time to help themselves get better coverage.

    FWD Editor
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