Japan’s Hiking Insurance Providers Compared

Hiking and Adventure Sports Insurance

Also consider signing up with COCOHELI a membership-based helicopter search service that covers most mountainous areas of Japan. It collaborates with police and fire service agencies in 34 prefectures. Members receive a small lightweight (20 g) radio transmitter ‘HITOCOCO’ with a unique ID number that can transmit radio signals up to 16 km using the 925MHz band.

One of the most common inquiries I get from my readers is about hiking insurance. Do I need it? Quite possibly. Is it necessary over travel insurance already purchased at home? Maybe as some travel insurance policies stipulate hiking under 2000 metres altitude. Are there local companies that you’d recommend for people coming from abroad? There are a couple, but you need at least a rudimentary grasp of Japanese plus the help of Google Translate as their websites are only in Japanese. What is the cost of a helicopter rescue in Japan? Deploying a helicopter for example in Saitama Prefecture (it varies according to the prefecture) costs ¥60,000 per hour. To mention but a few.

If there is any doubt as to the need to take out hiking insurance I suggest first reading this post “Hiking in Japan: Why Insurance Matters” which cites an average rescue cost of ¥398,000 ($3,500 USD). Also, according to this Japan Times article there were 2,495 mountaineering accidents across Japan in 2016, including 319 people who died or were never found, while 1,133 were injured.

For long term stayers there are quite a few hiking insurance providers which offer everything from search and rescue right through to hospitalisation expenses, indemnity liability, death and disablement and trekking and outdoor activities while abroad. Five of the major players in the industry are showcased below. For short term visitors to Japan embarking on a hiking adventure I highly recommend taking out an insurance policy which covers at least search and rescue. The two local outfits who offer short term insurance coverage are Yamakifu with affordable short-term plans ranging from 1 to 4 days. The other is YAMAP with monthly plans varying from 500 to 1,850 yen depending on the coverage required.

Hiking insurance providers in Japan at a glance

Insurance ProviderAnnual feeInsurance periodHow to applyActivities coveredOther details
MontbellFrom ¥8270 for a basic "climbing" and ¥2930 for a basic “outdoors”1 / 3 / 5 yearsOnlineVaries according to the planSearch and rescue up to ¥5 million / hospitalisation / death and disablement / indemnity liability
Nihon Hiyo Hosho¥40001 yearOnlineVaries according to the planSearch and rescue up to ¥5 million / indemnity liability
jRO (Japan Rescue Organization)¥2160 plus a one-time joining fee of the same amount1 yearOnlineOnline,Hiking / mountaineering and various outdoor sportsSearch and rescue up to ¥5.5 million
YAMAP¥250 to ¥650Daily and 30 day plan (renewable)OnlineOnline,Hiking / mountaineering and various outdoor sportsSearch and rescue up to ¥3 million

1.   Montbell hiking insurance

Clothing and equipment behemoth Montbell provides comprehensive insurance coverage underwritten by AIU Insurance. They offer two plans, an “outdoors” and “climbing”. The outdoor plan (general injury insurance) covers activities such as trekking, hiking, camping, cycling and skiing while the climbing plan (comprehensive insurance) covers full-fledged mountaineering. On top of this Montbell proffers a bewildering 90 different coverage types ranging from one to five years with the more expensive plans covering hospitalisation expenses, indemnity liability, death and disablement. The annual premium for a basic plan “climbing” is 8,270 yen which can be purchased on the internet and is valid from the afternoon of the next day.

Pros: Some plans cover trekking and outdoor activities while abroad. A wide variety of plans to select from.
Cons: Expensive when compared with other insurance providers.


2.   Nihon Hiyo Hosho hiking insurance

Nihon Hiyo Hosho or Nihiho offers affordable “rescue cost insurance” for hiking and various outdoor sports including rock climbing, trail running, backcountry skiing, snowboarding, canoeing and mountain biking. The 4,000 yen annual fee covers expenses required for search and rescue including helicopter callouts up to 3 million yen. Policy starts from midnight on the day following payment.

Pros: Relatively inexpensive at 4,000 yen or only 333 yen per month.
Cons: Death and disablement, hospitalisation and indemnity liability are not covered.

  Nihon Hiyo Hosho

3.   Yamakifu hiking insurance

Yamakifu based out of Chiba is one of the few outfits that also offer short term hiking insurance. The basic annual fee is 4,000 yen and covers search and rescue expenses up to 5 million yen. There is also a plus members category for 7,500 yen which includes indemnity liability, limited hospitalisation expenses and outpatient care. The expert members fee costs 10,000 yen and covers mountaineering and ice axe use. The “one time” short term insurance ranges from day trips (660 yen) up to 4 days (1,600 yen) and provides coverage similar to the plus members category.

Pros: The plus and expert plans cover mountain climbing or hiking while abroad. Competitive rates and good coverage combined with short-term plans. Some plans cover injuries caused by natural disasters.
Cons: Need to submit a hiking plan to guarantee you are fully covered.


4.   jRO hiking insurance

With over 63,000 paid up members jRO (Japan Rescue Organization LLC) is one of largest search and rescue insurance providers in Japan. Along with hiking and mountain climbing it also provides coverage for trail running, rock climbing, sports climbing, bouldering, skiing, snowboarding, mountaineering, canyoning, caving and mountain biking. Members are required to pay a one-time joining fee 2,160 yen, plus an annual fee of the same amount. Search and rescue expenses are covered up to 3.3 million yen using part of the funds put up by the members against accidents.

Pros: Low annual fee. Membership benefits include discounts at some mountains huts.
Cons: Doesn’t cover death and disablement, injury, hospitalisation and indemnity liability.

  jRO (Japan Rescue Organization)

5.   YAMAP hiking insurance

YAMAP the SNS service for climbers in Japan now also offers hiking insurance. They offer three levels of insurance including daily rates or 30-day plans (renewable). The basic plan costs 250 yen daily or 450 yen / 30-day plan for equipment coverage in the case of failure, damage or theft to smartphones, cameras and hiking gear such as tents and trekking poles up to 100,000 yen a year. The second-tier plan covers search and rescue expenses up to 3 million yen (280 yen daily or 480 yen / 30-day plan). The third-tier plan includes both equipment coverage and search and rescue (370 yen daily or 650 yen / 30-day plan). The insurance provides coverage for hiking, mountain climbing, trail running, skiing, snowboarding and cross-country skiing.

Pros: Daily and 30-day plans available. Equipment coverage also covers domestic travel, damage to smartphones sustained in daily life and accidents caused by natural disasters.
Cons: Doesn’t cover death and disablement, injury, hospitalisation and indemnity liability.


  • Is Yamakifu and YAMAP still available for tourists?
    I can stumble my way through websites in Japanese and signup for many things, but its hard to search and check all the conditions.

    • Agree it’s hard to keep up to date with these insurance providers. YAMAP still have their rescue plan 480 yen per month (renews automatically every 30 days) or 650 yen per month with equipment coverage for smartphones, skies, snowboards etc. They also now offer affordable daily rates at 280 yen per day. Yamakifu’s plans remain unchanged at 660 yen per day; 990 yen for 1 night 2 days; and 1600 yen for 3 nights 4 days. And yes, these hiking insurance policies are available for purchase by international visitors.

  • If you live in Japan and already have shakai hoken, do you need to take out specific insurance for hospitalization or injuries caused up in the mountains? If not, then just search and rescue seems enough right?

  • Hi David! It’s such a helpful article about mountain insurance!
    By the way my friend, a reader of this article, gave me an idea that it will be even more comprehensive article if you add information about CocoHeli! Cocoheli is a membership-based helicopter search service for mountain distress such as getting lost and slip / drop accidents. You will get a small radio transmitter which can be detected up to 16km. In case you are missing, your family or friend calls the cocoheli center and a helicopter will be sent to search for your beacon. Note you can’t request the helicopter by yourself (unless you have cell phone signal to call the cocoheli center) Also it’s a collaborated service with jRO, for example if you have jRO insurance then you don’t need to pay application fee for Cocoheli.

    I hope this helps to improve your article and give more information for your readers!


    • Hi Shihori san,

      Thank you for your comment and suggestion about including the Cocoheli helicopter search and rescue service. What I might do is write a separate blog post about Cocoheli and how it operates as I’m sure it’s of interest to my readers. Including for example, its range as you mention 16km, areas of Japan it covers (currently 34 prefectures and most mountainous areas as at Sep 2020), cost ~3,650 yen and tie-ups with other mountain insurance providers.

  • In reading the terms of use, I noticed that jRO seems to require annual ex-post contributions in addition to the annual fees (on a pro-rata total reimbursements/total members basis). While I understand this obviously varies year to year, can you shed some light on how much this tends to run annually? (I’ve been using a different provider until this year, but am considering a switch to jRO because you and some hiking friends of mine all seem to like it.) Thanks in advance!

    • Hi Susan and thanks for your comment. Yes, you are correct the annual member contribution fees fluctuate each year according to ex-post contributions which is usually between 300-800 yen. Having said that most years include an adjustment which reduces this amount for 2019 and 2020 members had to pay an additional 200 yen. For 2008-2018 jRO outlines it on their website here.

      • Thank you! This answers my question perfectly – and thanks for the website link too. I looked for that information on the jRO website but couldn’t find it (probably more due to my Japanese, which is far from perfect, than to it being difficult to find). Most excellent. I will sign up with them shortly. Thanks for this website too – it’s one of the absolute best resources around.

  • I tried looking at several of the insurance options but they all seem to require you to have a Japanese address which means you need to be a Japan resident. Do you know of any that will allow foreign tourists to buy insurance? I come to Japan to visit family twice a year so I would buy an annual plan. Thanks.

    • To acquire a hiking insurance policy in Japan it needs to be tied to a Japanese mailing address. For short stay foreign tourists taking out a policy say with YAMAP this could include their hotel address. As you have family here and intend to buy an annual plan, your best bet would be to use their Japanese mail address. They could in turn notify/forward to you any correspondence they receive on your behalf such as your jRO insurance card.