When mountain guide Phil Dowthwaite injured his knee ski touring in the Austrian Alps, he could have waved goodbye to the summer work season. But, thanks to the swift medical treatment he received through BMC Travel & Activity Insurance, he’s back up and literally running only six weeks later.
Phil was skiing with clients near Galtür, Ischgl in the Silvetta region of the Austrian Alps when the accident happened. Fortunately, Phil had taken out insurance with professional extension, so it covered him while working.
Commenting on the incident, Phil said: “It was a freak accident as I was walking in my skis over a ski track when a hole opened up beneath me. As I fell down the chest deep hole, my foot caught on a rock causing my knee to twist and tear.”
As they were on a remote ski tour it wasn’t until the next day that they were able to reach the sports clinic in St Anton. However Phil's injury was still treated within 24hrs of the accident.
Shortly after arriving at the clinic and realising he’d need treatment he phoned the BMC’s personal assistance service ACE Assistance – the first port of call in an medical emergency. “They were first class.” Phil remarked, “They gave the option of transporting me straight back to the UK for treatment, but I explained that as a professional guide it was important for me to get treated as quickly as possible or I would miss the summer season. So they arranged for me to be operated on that day in Austria.”
Phil was amazed at how quickly everything happened. He recounted: “I had an MRI scan at 10am and saw the doctor at 12 o’clock who confirmed I’d torn the meniscus cartilage in my knee. I had the operation at 3pm and walked out of the clinic by 4.30pm.”
Because Phil contacted ACE Assistance quickly, it meant the insurers took care of the medical costs directly instead of him having to pay upfront and then be reimbursed if the claim was approved. It also meant he was treated at the best medical facility in the area.
BMC insurance covers up to £10 million for all medical expenses including repatriation. Phil said: “They even offered to fly me home and ship my van back to the UK. But as they’d been so helpful and I was so pleased with the treatment I decided they’d done enough so I stayed out in the Alps for a while and then got myself back home to New Mills.”
Remarking on his recovery, Phil said: “It’s only been six weeks since the accident and I’m already out running and climbing, all thanks to getting such a prompt service. The help I got from the insurers means that with the busy summer season coming up I’m fit enough to work again. This is thanks to ACE being so helpful and understanding of my work as a guide.”
He added “I owe a big thanks to BMC insurance. As a professional it’s good to know you have the best cover when something goes wrong, I know a lot of people who have taken out cheap insurance via overseas alpine clubs and when it came to the crunch it wasn't worth the card it was printed on.”
Dave Turnbull, BMC CEO, said: “It’s always great to hear about positive experiences using BMC insurance. We’ve run an insurance scheme for climbers and walkers since 1976 and Phil’s story shows just how effective it can be when things go wrong”.
Phil Dowthwaite is a freelance Alpine guide specialising in alpine, rock and ski guiding. He works both in the UK and abroad, including in Scotland with the joint services, through Alpine Guides in Sheffield, and freelancing in the Alps.
Find out more:
Top five reasons why you need BMC insurance
What's covered by BMC insurance?
BMC insurance: emergency guidance
Emergency help: calling for help in the mountain
Watch the Off-Piste Essentials trailer on BMC TV.
Watch action from a ski tour of the Aiguilles Rouge on BMC TV.
Watch a crevasse fall on BMC TV.
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