Traveller Assist Hits Back at Nepali Reporting on Fake Helicopter Rescue Scams

Yesterday I posted another story surrounding the “fake helicopter rescue scams” that have been a subject of much discussion on this blog and elsewhere dating back to last summer. I won’t recount the entire story another time, suffice as to say that the situation as become a black eye for Nepali tourism, while insurance companies spar with the government there about how to get control of the problem. The two sides are at odds for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that so far, no one within the country has actually been charged with a crime nor does it seem the scams have been completely halted either.

The gist of yesterday’s story was an article in the Kathmandu Post that accused travel insurance company Traveller Assist of making up lies in an attempt to extort the Nepali government. Since that story went live last week, Traveller Assist has fired back with an article of its own posted to Medium (which strangely is a thing following Jeff Bezos’ use of the platform) that calls into question the credibility and experience of the journalist who wrote the article for the Post. In its rebuttal to the story, TA responds directly to the allegations and offers its own side of this story.

As mentioned in the article yesterday, the Nepali government says that the investigation is still ongoing, but according to yet another article from the Post, that investigation will be coming to an end soon. It should be noted that Nepali officials admitted last summer that they knew about the scam and who was involved, while also announcing plans to take over operation of rescue flights for trekkers and climbers. According to a recent report in the New York Times however, that hasn’t brought an end to the problem.

There has been a lot of back and forth between the various sides involved in this story, but at this point we’re ultimately waiting for the Nepali government to close its investigation and take some legal action against those involved. The list of helicopter companies, trekking operators, and hospitals that have been a part of this multimillion dollar scam is long and distinguished. In fact, Traveller Assist named them in a post to its own website. The real question is whether or not government officials will actually take action against them and if not, how it will impact our insurance coverage when visiting the country.

As noted before, be sure to check that your policy offers protection while in Nepal as we get ready to embark on the spring trekking and climbing seasons.

Kraig Becker