Travel insurance tips for winter sports enthusiasts
Winter sports enthusiasts should ensure they have adequate travel insurance before heading off to the slopes.
Many skiers wrongly assume they’re automatically covered if they have annual travel insurance or travel insurance attached to their bank account or credit card.
However, Gocompare.com research reveals standard and packaged travel insurance products are unlikely to cover skiing or snowboarding, with 78 per cent of single trip travel insurance policies only offering winter sports cover as an optional extra, for which an additional fee is payable.
The comparison site has drawn-up a list of 10 winter travel insurance top tips to consider when buying travel insurance:
Snow sports can be dangerous and there is a greater risk of injury than for other types of holidays. Medical insurance can cover mountain rescue, medical treatment abroad and, if needed, repatriation by a staffed air ambulance.
Medical costs can quickly mount up, so look for a policy with a generous amount of cover, particularly if you’re holidaying in the US or Canada where medical bills are higher.
In Europe, an EHIC (European Health Insurance Card) will only entitle you to state-provided healthcare, not care in a private clinic, which may be the only option in some resorts.
Nor does the EHIC cover the costs of rescue or repatriation to the UK. If you’re unlucky enough to have an accident without travel insurance, you could be left thousands of pounds out of pocket.
As soon as possible after you book your holiday, make sure you have travel insurance in place just in case you have to unexpectedly cancel your trip, for example, as a result of illness or redundancy.
Policy limits for cancellation vary significantly (£500 to unlimited cover) so check the policy wording carefully to make sure the cost of your trip is covered. Also familiarise yourself with any applicable exclusions, as some policies may have different interpretations of what constitutes a valid reason for cancelling a trip.
Check limits and restrictions
Winter sports clothing and equipment is expensive to buy or hire, so it’s important to make sure it’s covered against damage or theft. Most policies charge an extra premium for winter sports baggage. Of those policies providing cover, 55 per cent provide cover of £500 to £800 for winter sports equipment, 22 per cent have policy limits of £1,000 or over, while six winter sports policies exclude cover. If you have especially expensive gear, check the small print to make sure you’ve got adequate cover.
Fewer policies provide cover for equipment which is hired as opposed to owned. Of those that do, cover limits are generally lower. For owned equipment policies, 61 per cent provide cover of £300 to £500. For hired equipment only 35 per cent offer this amount of cover, and 53 per cent of policies limit pay-outs to £100 to £275.
Whether you own or hire equipment, insurers will expect you to take reasonable care of it and report any losses to the police and any damage caused while in transit to the transport company.
Check you have adequate cover
The cost of lessons, hiring skis and lift passes can run into hundreds of pounds so it’s sensible to insure against not being able to use them because of illness, injury, loss or theft.
Most winter sports policies provide ski pack cover but cover limits vary significantly (£100 to £10,000).
Check the small print
Most (83 per cent) winter sports policies allow you to ski off-piste subject to certain conditions such as being accompanied by a qualified guide and skiing only on recognised paths. Few (10 per cent) of policies cover off-piste skiing as standard, 7 per cent specifically exclude cover.
If you fancy taking part in other winter sports activities – dog-sledding or glacier walking for example – check these are covered, otherwise you could invalidate your insurance.
Most winter sports policies provide cover if all the pistes at the resort you are booked on are closed due to a lack of snow, excessive snow or high winds. Total cover for piste closures range from £60 – £10,000 but 44 per cent of pay-out limits are £300 – £500.
You also need to check the policy wording against your date of travel. Some policies only provide cover between specific dates e.g. 15 November to 15 April or 1 December to 30 April.
Winter sports policies will often compensate you for the costs of extra travel and accommodation if an avalanche delays your arrival at or departure from you booked resort. Cover limits range from £50 to £1,000, but 62 per cent of policies will pay-out £200 to £500.
If while skiing or snowboarding you accidently injure someone else, or damage someone else’s property, you may be sued. Look for a travel policy with £1m personal liability insurance.
Read the small print
Insurers require you to take reasonable care of yourself and your belongings. Make sure you follow safety instructions, take notice of local official warnings and keep your belongings secure.
Check what sporting activities you can and can’t do, otherwise you risk invalidating your insurance. For example, some insurers may insist on you wearing a helmet when skiing, and participation in professional or competitive sports is generally excluded.
Most insurers will refuse a medical claim if they deem you were under the influence of drugs or alcohol when the accident occurred.
If you need to make a claim, contact your insurer straightaway for advice on what to do. If you’ve been a victim of crime (e.g. theft), get a written report from the police.
Likewise, if your snow sports equipment is damaged in transit, report it to the transport provider. You will need to provide evidence to support your claim so keep receipts to show proof of purchase and/or expenditure.