Nepal avalanche: Insurance company won't pay for airlift

The head of a Quebec adventure-travel company says his insurance company won't pay for the rescue operation after a deadly avalanche in Nepal because none of the members of his group were injured or killed, and now he’s on the hook for thousands of dollars.

Tour operator Richard Rémy says RSA Canada refuses to pay for helicopter airlift because no one was injured

Richard Rémy, tour operator for Karavaniers was caught in October's deadly avalanche in Nepal. He says his insurance company won't pay for a helicopter airlift because no one in his group was injured. (Alison Northcott/CBC)

The head of a Quebec adventure-travel company says he’s on the hook for thousands of dollars for the cost of a rescue operation following a deadly avalanche in Nepal.

Richard Rémy of the Karavaniers travel company was guiding eight Quebecers and two-dozen Nepalese in the Himalayas in October when a massive avalanche came sliding down the side of a mountain in the Annapurna range.

The storm killed dozens of people, including three Quebecers from another group.

If they had broken their arm just before they get in the helicopter, they would have paid.- Richard Rémy, Karavaniers tour operator

However, Rémy said his insurance company won’t pay for the rescue operation that saw his group airlifted to safety because no members of his group were injured.

“The insurance company says they will pay if somebody is wounded. Since they’re not wounded, they don’t pay,” Rémy said. “They would have died [if not airlifted to safety].”

The insurance company, RSA Canada, refused requests for comment from CBC News.

However, in a letter to Rémy the company said the rescue is not covered because it was due to a storm, and because no one needed medical care.

Richard Rémy's group of travellers were airlifted from this site after an avalanche in Nepal. (Richard Rémy)

“If they had broken their arm just before they get in the helicopter, they would have paid. I did my job too well,” Rémy said.

Insurance lawyer Maurice Lasry​ said the dispute could come down to a war of words in court.

“It’s possible that in the insurance policy there’s a definition as to what an emergency would be, and if that’s the case, the courts may go beyond that and say this particular event is of an emergency nature and it’s very exceptional,” Lasry​said.

Rémy said he hopes to settle with the insurance company before the matter is taken before the court.

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