You should first find an insurance company that will cover and find out what their requirements will be. Many insurers will require you to be ‘certified’ through a trade organization like the ACCT. They will want to know that your experience and knowledge are sufficient to run a safe operation. Only a few insurance companies will insure a stand-alone zipline operation. if you are already operating other adventure programs, i.e rafting, rock climbing, horseback; you may be able to just add this activity to your policy. Your rates can vary from $5,000 per year to $30,000 + a per person charge (usually $0.50 – $1). Rates vary depending on your experience, the size and scope of your operation, and annual inspection results. Claims from injuries will also quickly raise your rates or even cancel your policy.
Unlike other adventure activities, ziplines require an extraordinary amount of training to operate safely. Your staff will need to document at least 40 hours before they can be considered competent. Some operations may require up to 160 hours of training and testing before the staff can facilitate a course. Remember 99% of all accident result from human (staff) error. If your operation is seasonal and staff are new each year, it is important to design and build a course that does not heavily relay on staff judgement and action. Remember, it is not the normal operation that is staff intensive, it is the abnormal situations. Rescues, medical emergencies, extreme fear, panic, unusual weather conditions, and gear malfunctions must all be able to be dealt with easily and confidently by each member of your staff team.
PROCEDURES AND DOCUMENTATION
This is what gets many new operations in trouble. A thorough and complete manual must reflect the actual procedures in use. Most zipline operations adapt or modify their procedure during the first year to improve safety or throughput. These changes must be written into the manual as they occur. Documentation of trainings, maintenance, near misses, and incidents must be kept to insure the course is compliant with industry standards. If a daily inspection reveals that a repair is needed, then that repair must be completed in a reasonable time frame.
PERMITS AND REGULATIONS
Many states now have regulations and state inspectors that oversee commercial ziplines. see http://www.ziplineinspection.com/inspection-services/state-regulations.html for the latest information on states regulating ziplines. Many other states are considering regulating zip lines and you should be ready to comply if your state or country decides to impose regulations and permit process on your operation.