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Planning to go skiing? Check your insurance policy

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Heavy snowfall in Europe has led to a piste closures and avalanche warnings – but many skiers are hitting the slopes without adequate travel cover.

According to financial research company Defaqto, of the 1,073 single trip travel insurance policies available on the market, less than 7% cover winter sports as standard.

What’s more 17% of 1,090 annual travel insurance policies include winter sports as standard. With this in mind, the firm is urging holidaymakers not to presume they are covered for winter sports holidays.

The timing of Defaqto’s warning coincides with heavy snowfall in the Alps, which has caused some European resorts to experience ‘high’ avalanche danger levels, resulting in piste closures.

In the event of piste closures, Defaqto points out that three out of five policies will only pay between £10 and £25 for each day lost. Meanwhile, only 29% will pay £30 or more for each day lost.

Off-piste risks

If pistes are closed, it may be tempting to venture off-piste instead. However, this comes with a host of risks – not least the risk of being hit by an avalanche. Of the 987 single trip insurance policies which offer winter sports cover on some basis, Defaqto found that 11% do not allow off-piste skiing at all.

However, the majority (86%) allow ‘restricted’ off-piste skiing, often requiring a professional guide to accompany the policyholder. Only 3% of annual and single trip policies offer a no restriction off-piste policy.

In addition, over a quarter of policies do not cover tobogganing or sledging. Even ice skating is excluded by some insurers, with one fifth of all policies not covering this activity.

Brian Brown, head of insight at Defaqto, commented: “If you are planning a winter sports break, it’s vital you check your insurance covers you for injuries, damage to expensive ski equipment and adverse weather conditions just in case the worst happens.”

Here’s a summary of typical winter sports insurance cover:

Single trip products Annual Multi Trip Products
No cover 8% 6%
Optional cover 85% 77%
Standard cover 7% 17%

Source: Defaqto