The Derby is fifty shades of downright dangerous. You hopefully already know that. Insurance is very important. Chaps, this really is a one-of-a-kind adventure and you need to pick up the phone and talk to insurers about what you are doing. Many will balk at the word 'race'; you need to explain that this is not a professional event (important distinction from insurer's perspective). Do not put yourself in a position where you could be stuck in Mongolia with a fat medical bill and an even fatter evacuation bill to get you somewhere with the standard of medical facilities you think you deserve.
Insuring you and your entry fee
Your insurance needs are two-fold;
1. Insuring your ass in Mongolia.
You need very comprehensive and responsive medical insurance for your treatment/travel for further treatment/repatriation. From an insurer who KNOWS what you are doing.
Our best advice is to go with the Mongolian insurer Bodi LLC, who have a policy called On-Site Cover, devised specifically for tourists in Mongolia, and sold jointly in partnership with SOS Medica Mongolia, the clinic which would likely be your first port of call, and co-ordinator of your ongoing treatment, in the case of an accident on the Derby in which you were injured. The On-Site policy is $450 for 30 days cover for you riders, which has gone up sharply since 2014, when they provided two helicopter evacs in 2 days and probably made a honking loss on the policy. Given that they know what the Derby is all about, and will definitely come and get you if the shit hits the fan, you may still consider this policy to be good value. You are covered from the minute you leave your house on the way to the airport - so standard travel insurance clauses like flight cancellations,delays, lost luggage, lost personal belongings in Mongolia.
To get this policy, email Bodi LLC Chief Underwriter - Bayaraa - Bayarkhuu.firstname.lastname@example.org and tell her you are a Derby rider. She will email you the policy documents. You can pay for the policy in USD directly into their bank account - use MD16MYSURNAME as the payment reference, or pay in cash, in Mongolia, during day 1 of Pre-race Training August 1st.
Bank details as follows:
Account name: Bodi Insurance LLC
Bank: Trade and Development Bank of Mongolia
Account number 499171654
TDBN has a number of correspondent banks - see this link - but below is one for US transactions
Correspondent bank information
Bank: Citibank N.A., New York, USA
SWIFT code: CITIUS33
Account number 36202093
Other policies Derby riders have tried and tested include Sports Cover Direct.
They will insure competitive horse riding in Mongolia, and cite the Mongol Derby by name as the insured trip, with a generous evac policy, for around £200 per person. Call them on 01494 484800
2. Insuring your participation - cancellation etc.
If you get injured before getting on the plane and have to withdraw from the Derby, we won't be in a position to refund your entry fee - it's already spent. So, if you want to insure yourself against losing the entry fee, you'd need to insure this risk separately. Many standard travel insurances have this clause but I spoke to our insurers Campbell Irvine about this point and was advised that most holiday cover would only pay out to the value of most 'holidays' - say £3k. If you wanted to insure the entire value of the trip - flights, entry fee, all the kit etc, they would be able to provide a policy for that, but it would cost much more than your average travel insurance policy, as they have to load so much more value into the premium. Anthony Kaye at Campbell Irvine advised me that a policy to cover a £10k loss due to medical cancellation would cost around £350 to buy. But they can definitely find insurers to take that risk. Not everyone would bother insuring this but if you are interested in covering off that kind of risk then this is very useful information.
If your ordinary travel insurer works with SOS as their emergency assistance partner, and is happy to insure both the risks explained above, then bite their arm off. But Anthony was sceptical of finding that level of cover away from a specialist insurer.
One policy which 2015 rider and insurance specialist Catherine Coward found last year was through St Benedicts Ltd, underwritten by VELA. For £480 they will insure JUST your cancellation, up to £10k. What this means is that, as long as you GET TO MONGOLIA, you're on your own. You would need a separate policy to cover your event period. But you would get everything back that you had sunk getting to Mongolia in the toe curling scenario where you break your arm in a charity rugby game a week before you fly (true story).
NB if you get broken half way round the Derby, or even at the start camp, there's no policy on earth that will pay out for curtailment or cancellation; you entered the world's toughest horse race. It looks rather like you got one.
Contacts for you:
Campbell Irvine - 020 7938 1734. Don't start with "I am doing the Mongol Derby" because they no longer cover our riders (too many claims!!) - ask to speak to Anthony Kaye and explain to him that you want to insure the value of your entry fee, if indeed you do.
Bodi LLC Chief Underwriter - Bayaraa - Bayarkhuu.email@example.com
Sports Cover Direct - 01494 484800, firstname.lastname@example.org
St Benedicts Ltd - Underwriter Leah Bawden - email@example.com
Insuring your horses
The £400 deposit
Yes, you'll be buggered after 1000kms of Mongol Derby. Possibly after much less than 1000kms, or even before getting on the plane.
It's a lot less risky for your horses, happily; they are some of the most fit-for-purpose partners you could ever wish to encounter, and it is your enormous privilege to ride them.
We vet every horse and select the healthiest and most suitable we can find. All horses get several weeks training and all have remarkable base fitness. The ones that work regularly as herding horses work very strenuously, the ones that race are some of the fittest athletes our vets have ever encountered. Be assured that all are well capable of 35-40kms at a fair pace, ridden well. We give you a LOT of advice on what "ridden well" means before the race, both in this here handbook and in the rider mailouts from the Guru Maggie Pattinson. Most recover very easily from their Derby dash, and we won't release a horse back to its owner until we are happy that is is ship-shape.
However, accidents happen out there. Some horses might have pre-existing asymptomatic weaknesses that no vet could have picked up on. In respect of the possibility that a horse is permanently damaged, lost, or dies, as a result of its Derby participation, we will reimburse the herder to the tune of T1.2million - £400 in sterling.
We require that every rider bring £400 in cash, in an envelope marked with their name, to Pre Race Training in Ulaanbaatar on August 1st. You cannot leave us a credit card. If you cannot get sterling then you can give us USD 600. In the event that your horse dies we will exchange this and give it directly to the affected herder. Otherwise your deposit will be returned to you intact at the finish line. It makes an excellent gin float we find.
Other possible deductions
1. If you lose our SPOT trackers. It happens every year, 75 identical little gadgets flying around on the steppe, you have much more exciting things to concentrate on than where it is (duct taped to your helmet or your shoulder strap, hopefully). They are expensive to replace because we have to import them as well as purchase them - so you'll lose £100 for a lost tracker
2. If you lose our saddles. Sometimes, you fall off, the horse runs off, and gets picked up some hours/days later, no saddle, no saddle bag. Crap for you, we concede. Crap for us, also. The saddles are built to last multiple events and on a depreciation schedule to reflect that. They are an expensive asset, again made more so by the face-to-palm agony of getting them into the country - so you'll lose £200 for a lost saddle
3. If you need a non-medical evacuation off the course. You might drop out of the Derby not because your femur is sticking out of the sole of your foot. You might just hate it. Hopefully we have picked people who will love it, but you just might want to get back to "civilisation", cold beer, market economy, pure bred Thoroughbreds, etc. Fair enough. We design the whole event based on the assumption that you riders RIDE the course, and therefore there is no spare vehicle capacity. The crews have their own jobs to do and cannot taxi you home. So - if you retire and want to return to UB to fly to the Bahamas, The Chief will dispatch a vehicle from UB, or another city if that is more convenient, to collect you in a private transfer. You will have to pay for this and she will cash in your horse deposit for this purpose. It costs whatever it costs. You will always have the chance to say "no thanks" if you don't want to shell out that money.
What happens if you kill or lose your horse AND lose loads of kit?
Alright, smart ass. Let's say you fall off and pass out and when you come round there is no horse, and no saddle. Neither is EVER recovered. The herder gets your full deposit, and we lose money on your saddle. I never said it was a perfect system. I think you'll agree that the herders' claim is the more important - this event relies very, very heavily on goodwill. Regardless, we will keep searching for that horse for many weeks post-Derby (it has happened, once) and if there is any way of getting your money back to you, we will. That is why the horses are tagged and catalogued exhaustively pre-race. Do not consider this deposit a higher entry fee by stealth. Virtually everyone gets back their full deposit, just by virtue of not being careless with other people's property.