Our website uses cookies throughout our system and to help us provide a better service. Continue to use the site as normal if you're happy with this, or click here to change your settings

Forthcoming increase in insurance costs: what you may wish to know

Having read your email from Mountaineering Scotland's Chairman Brian Shackleton and Chief Executive Officer Stuart Younie, you may still have some questions you would like the answers to.

We have included questions and answers below which should satisfy any queries but, if there are still questions you would like to ask, you can email CEO Stuart Younie at info@mountaineering.scot

Why is it such a big increase in cost?

Historically our insurance has benefited from low claims, so we have been able to maintain annual premiums at a fairly low level. This situation has now changed following a claim which is expected to be for over £5million resulting from an accident in a mountaineering club affiliated to the BMC. The size of the increase is set by the insurance underwriters based on their assessment of the risk to them. Their assessment of risk changes when claims are made, and this increase is as a direct result of the claim made following a climbing wall accident in England.

If the increase is as a result of a claim against the BMC, why should it impact on us? Why is it not just the BMC premium which is increasing?

Although the BMC and Mountaineering Scotland policies are separate, they are very similar and cover the same range of activities. We also share the same primary underwriter Hiscox who have a long-term association with both organisations and understand the nature of the activities involved. As a result of the substantial claim against the BMC policy, premiums have increased across the board for this type of insurance. The BMC were faced with an increase in their premium last year 2019 which required them to increase their membership fees. Mountaineering Scotland is now facing a similar level of increase as our current three-year agreement ended in December 2019.

This happened because of a climbing wall accident. Why does it affect walkers as well?

Our insurance cover is a specialist package deal which was designed to cover all our collective activities and includes mountaineering, climbing, scrambling, bouldering, hillwalking, ski mountaineering and ski touring, canyoning, coasteering, fell and mountain running, representation on any management committee or acting as a trustee with respect to the operation of mountaineering huts. Members are also covered for secondary activities including cycling and mountain biking where these activities are used for access to allow participants to take part in the primary activites. This has advantages for members providing cover for a range of activities and segmenting our insurance cover is likely to result in dearer premiums for individual activities. 

Is there not an option just to stop covering indoor climbing in our insurance? It seems such a completely separate sport.

As mentioned above, our insurance cover is a package which includes all mountaineering activities, including indoor climbing. To separate these out would result in less flexibility for members and an overall insurance bill that would be greater than the current package of cover we have in place.

Why do we even need insurance? Especially if we are just walkers.

Liability insurance has been a central part of the Mountaineering Scotland  membership package for many years providing assurance to clubs and individuals that cover is in place in the event of major accidents or claims against members and clubs. Many clubs see this insurance cover as essential for them to continue operating as a club

Even as walkers, accidents can happen where others are injured as a result of our actions – if we cause a stonefall which injures another person, for instance – so having Civil and Public Liability insurance  in place is a prudent precaution to take.

Can we not just move to another insurance provider?

Our insurance brokers, who are experienced in this field, consulted with a number of potential underwriters. The nature of the current cover is specialist and of those prepared to quote for our custom, this was the most competitive price to retain our existing level of cover.

How much are our subs likely to increase by because of this?

We are currently reviewing the three-year financial plan for consideration by the board in May at this point we are unable to confirm exactly how much fees will increase by and when, however we are working to minimising the impact on members in the short term given the commitments made at the 2019 AGM. Any increase would require to be approved by members at  an AGM.

How much do we pay per person for this insurance?

The annual cost of our Civil and Public Liability cover in 2019 is detailed below along with the annual increase over the period of our 3-year agreement.










This works out at an increase in average cost per member from £2.25 in 2019 to £5.45 in 2022

We’ve just had an increase in subscriptions. Can’t Mountaineering Scotland cover the rise in insurance premium out of funds?

The increase of 8% agreed by members at the 2019 AGM was to cover the cost of increasing our level of Civil and Public Liability cover from £10 to £15million and also to meet inflationary pressures relating to the operating costs of the organisation over the next three years. Based on the information we had at the time we had not anticipated any additional increase in insurance premiums and this increase has placed a significant financial pressure on the organisations budget.  The Board of Mountaineering Scotland are working to minimise the impact on members in the short term and whilst we do keep an appropriate level of reserves this is not a sustainable option in the medium to long term.