Bill lives in Ontario, Canada. He is a monitor of risk sports and he remembers the first time he ran the running of the bulls from the Santo Domingo stretch. A runner by his side, with a look of panic, told him just before the bulls were released, “I don’t think my travel insurance policy will cover this.” And it turned out to be that case. At times, Bill has thought about taking part in the running of the bulls since then, but he feels the risk is higher than the profession he performs in his working life as a monitor of risk sports.
Chris after his experiences in the 1995 Sanfermines, expressed his attitude as follows: “Forget about Bungee jumping, forget about the jalopy car racing, forget the rest…This really guarantees an authentic adrenaline boost. There are no security nets; there are no safety belts or airbags. You and a dozen bulls running in among a couple of thousand runners who are just as terrified…as you.”
Chris encourages his American colleagues to take part in the running of the bulls and gives some sound advice, considering that he has been a runner from abroad. His final piece of advice is “Ensure that you have good medical insurance, and it is probably wise to make sure that your will is up to date.”
There are two insurance policies made by Pamplona City Hall and by the organizers of the bull fair – the Casa de Misericordia. These serve to cover compensations in cases of disablement or death. Those injured or wounded and born within the province of Navarra, or from neighboring provinces, receive free medical treatment from The Public Health Service. However, foreigners are charged through their medical insurance. Anyone injure or wounded will obviously be given full treatment with no questions asked, but later The Navarra Health Service will try to have the cost paid by the patients medical insurance.
The hospital is obliged to charge by law
The Navarra Public Health Service is obliged, by law, to charge for its health care, when there always exists a third party to pay, as occurs in the case of traffic accidents. Consequently, in the case of people who are resident in another country, they must try to find someone to take responsibility for the costs. In any case, all patients can leave the hospital without paying the cost – which does not occur in some other countries – and there have been cases where the Embassy of the infirm person has had to affront the costs of their citizens in cases of insolvency. In the case of other European countries, there exists a corresponding compensation system between the different national health systems.
When it comes to paying, the costs in Navarra are quite cheap in comparison with other health systems in the first world. So, consequently, if someone decides to take part in the running of the bulls without any kind of insurance, and should he be admitted to hospital, he can be assured of receiving good attention and the hospital bill will be lower than if it had occurred in any other place.
Difficulties to get insured
Whoever comes to Pamplona from abroad, could find some problems if they need treatment arising from some accident in the running of the bulls. For example, World Nomads is one of the biggest travel agencies in the world for travel insurance. In its publicity on the web page, Nomads announces instant universal insurance all round the world, but when faced with a specific request for travel insurance from an American citizen who wanted to take part in the Pamplona running of the bulls, the answer was. “Regretfully, as part of our policy we cannot cover you as an American citizen or resident to take part in the running of the bulls.”
The Allianz Insurance Company, in its coverage of travel agencies who organize trips from Australia, New Zealand and The United States, has a list of activities which are covered and a list which is excluded from coverage. The traveler can take a ride on an elephant and if there is a fall, there is coverage… but if a Polar Bear attacks off the track of the polar safari, besides dying of fright or even really dying, there is no insurance cover in this case. And watch out…another one of the activities excluded is the Running of the Bulls, whether or not there are any safaris…
Without specifically stating Pamplona, but using the expression “running with the bulls” the text reads: “I assume and accept the risks and dangers and the possibility of suffering personal harm and being hospitalized…” This kind of formula is now common to inform tourists that they have been warned of the risks and the element of chance which lies in the running of the bulls…
For example, another recent warning came from the Sidney Morning Herald, in Australia, when it recently informed its readers that jumping from the Navarreria fountain or taking part in the running of the bulls, is not recommended by the principal insurance companies.
Another example we could consider comes from The Association of American Programs in Spain which specifically recommends that travelers should not take part in risk activities and cites the running of the bulls as a clear example of this. It reminds travelers that both tourists and local runners have both suffered serious and mortal accidents over the years in the running of the bulls.
Another of the formulas being used at present by some agencies is to have a form signed which renounces all rights of suing made by the travelers if they take part in the running of the bulls and something happens to them. These forms free the agency from all responsibility in the matter and oblige the person who signs to assume that “I am conscious of the risks inherent in the running of the bulls and I am conscious of other added risks and dangers coming from other runners (…) that there are runners who are unaware of the dangers inherent in the running of the bulls and who could act irrationally and prejudice me in the participation of the running of the bulls.(…) I am conscious that the enjoyment and the emotion of the running of the bulls comes, in part, from the participation of the bulls and if I choose to take part it is at my own volition and risk, and my responsibility and at my own expense.”
There are also some overstatements such as the agency that states that in Sanfermin, the muggings increase exponentially and it is not safe to go out alone at night. The solution, of course, is to contract insurance…