What insurance to expect from your storm chasing tour company

Aug 27, 2009
As you may know I run a website in which I compare the storm chasing tour companies in the industry. I want to help (especially first comers) to find a suitable tour company for their storm chasing tour. There are numerous different variables to consider in choosing a tour: price, reputation, chase dates, tour guides, chase vehicle to mention a few important ones.

One thing I know many tour guests have no clue about but that want to bring to their attention is the question about insurance. So far, I don't think there has ever been an accident on a storm chasing tour that had led to hospital stays (hospital bills!) related to those injuries but it is likely a question of when, in my opinion. Not that the tour companies are irresponsible but more so that there are inherent risks.

As far as I have understood there are two important things to consider here: the protection of the tour company and the protection of the tour guest. Let's consider an event where a tour van crashes during a chase, while driving at normal speed in heavy rain. All five tour guest suffer severe injuries which require hospital stays with a hospital bill of $200.000 each - to a sum of 1 MUSD. The tour van is totalled ($50.000) and the tour guide (who is not the owner) is injured as well.

Now, there are different ways each tour company seem to be insured. Some have a commercial insurance with at least 1.5 MUSD policy and some only seem to have the van itself insured.

Here is what I am trying to figure out, and there are a lot of questions related to this. When this van crashes, who will pay the $200.000 hospital bill for Mr Tourguest? Will the tour company rely on their liability waiver and let the tour guest pay for himself through his own insurance (considering the tour company was not negligent)? If the tour company have a commercial insurance, will that insurance pay for Mr Tourguest hospital bills?

Will Mr Tourguest likely have to have a special "adventure insurance" in order to cover this kind of injury?

What if the tour company does not have a commercial insurance? Who will have to pay for what?

What kind of constellations of insurance policies do you believe the tour companies have, you think? I mean, if you don't have a commercial insurance, then what do you have?

I will send out email asking each one about it but I need to know what I should ask.