Ski & Winter Sports

29/04/2013 -- Admin
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Travel Insurance for Ski holidays and breaks

If you're jetting off for a ski holiday, you'll need adequate ski/winter sports insurance.

Winter sports cover is generally an optional addition to most travel policies. It covers specific risks associated with ski holidays: equipment, sports participation, lessons and piste closure.

Ski Insurance

For most people the ski slopes are extreme fun and pose only a small risk. . . but they can be dangerous, appropriate insurance provides pease of mind, especially for families and the elderly.

Many online insurers allow "winter sports or ski" cover to be added to their travel policies". This extension provides the additional cover for risks specific to ski holidays and associated activities, the equipment, whether owned or hired and liabilities which would otherwise be excluded.

Winter Sports

  • Alpine Skiing:- on and off piste but within the resort boundaries (piste is defined as the marked ski run within the resort boundaries), alpine, mono, big foot, cross country / Nordic, dry slope and glacier skiing
  • Boarding: - Snowboarding on & off piste but within the resort boundaries, air boarding
  • Skating: - Blade skating, ice skating
  • Powered activities: - Sleigh riding as a passenger (horse / reindeer)*, husky dog sledding (organised, non-competitive with local driver), Snow mobiling (skidoo), ice windsurfing, ice go-carting
  • Sledging & tobogganing:- Kick sledging, sledging, tobogganing, snow tubing (rubber rings)
  • Walking: - Glacier, snow shoe walking, winter walking (using crampons and ice picks only)
  • Training:- Training/racing (ski school)

Ski Equipment

  • Definition: - Ski equipment is often defined as skis and snow boards (including bindings), ski boots & ski poles. Regular (non ski) travel insurance often excludes skis etc under the "baggage" clause
  • Values:- Equipment is taken to depreciate on a sliding scale over time (e.g. 5 years). Proof of ownership / cost (receipts) are required for claims.
  • In Transit: - Loss/damage in transit claims usually requires a report from the airline and a claim filed with them. Receipts etc are needed. If in the care of another carrier then you'll need written confirmation from them
  • Unattended Equipment:- If you have been careless with your equipment you could find any claim for loss void. Insurers usually need you to keep your own / hired equipment in a secure baggage area if unattended. Exclusions also often apply if the ski equipment is lost, stolen or damaged while contained in an unattended vehicle unless locked and out of sight in a secure baggage area. Evidence of forcible or violent entry (i.e. Police report) is generally required.

Travel Insurance

Away from the slopes you'll want a travel policy that covers the usual risks too, such as:

  • Cancellation, curtailment and trip interruption
  • Emergency medical repatriation
  • Baggage for accidental loss of, theft of or damage to baggage, articles and valuables
  • Personal money - accidental loss of, theft of, or damage to
  • Personal liability - compensation, legal costs and expenses
  • Delayed departure
  • Missed departure at home or destination
  • Missed connection departure or return
  • Hijack/Kidnap - of plane or ship
  • Legal expenses - legal costs (to a set value) to pursue a civil action
  • Extended kennel / cattery fees - if delayed for medical reasons
  • The non winter sports such as: - cycling and mountain biking, hiking and orienteering, fishing, rowing; and sailing/yachting (if qualified), horse riding

For the Elderly

Age isn't the barrier it may once have been on the piste. If you or a family/group member is aged over 65 then you can usually find insurance cover for skiing, even with existing health problems. For people aged over 70 years a bit more searching is required to find cover.

Do I Need Ski Insurance?

Just in case you're tempted to winter sport or ski without insurance here are a few statistics to consider.

The top 5 ski injuries:

  1. Knee ligament injuries 30%
  2. Fractured tibia
  3. Fractured/sprained wrists
  4. Back injuries
  5. Dislocated shoulders

Each year almost 1.2 million UK holiday makers take a winter sports holiday and 14,000 (approx. 8%) returned home with injuries.

Cost of treatment

  • European airlift to hospital can cost £2,500
  • Repatriation (flying your injured or dead body home) £6,000

The above statistics were taken from a sample of 400 cases and provided by FirstAssist, one of the Foreign & Commonwealth Office partners in the Know Before You Go Campaign.

Best Policy Terms

The best insurance is the one that allows you to do what you want at a good price.

  • Off Piste
    • Who doesn't want to go off piste from time to time? It's almost irresistible. If you want to keep your policy valid then you should inform your insurer
    • You can't wander off track and ski where the resort has advised it's inappropriate or dangerous. Always check with the resort first
  • As always check the levels of cover in the policy schedule are adequate before you buy.
  • Ensure insurance offers cover for all the sports you plan to do
  • Take care over personal liability and legal expenses issues as there are protocols to follow if you hurt /injure someone
  • There will be restrictions on the amount of days you winter cover will last
  • Make sure the levels of cover for loss, damage or if your equipment is stolen in transit, is enough
  • Don't be lulled into thinking you'll still be covered if you leave your skis outside a restaurant
  • Most insurers give you the green light to hire equipment if yours is lost or stolen - but only up to the value shown in your policy
  • Most travel insurance companies will only cover pre-booked tuition or guided tours ie activities you booked your activities before departure
  • Piste closure tends to apply only between 1st December and 30th April.
  • If there's an avalanche and it results in the piste being closed or declared dangerous then you won't be covered, so don't - however experienced you are - ski.

Real-life drama - Example

The Foreign & Commonwealth Office website gives an example of a real-life drama that took place in a ski resort in Switzerland (see link)

'A lady and her husband were on a winter sports holiday in Switzerland. The lady ruptured cruciate ligaments in one knee and injured her back when she fell skiing.

'She had to be taken off the slopes by helicopter, taken to a Swiss hospital, and had to undergo an operation to her knee.

'She and her husband missed her original return flight.

'She was unable to travel seated due to the back injury and had to be repatriated by stretcher with a nurse escort, accompanied by her husband.

An assistance company helped with all these arrangements - the total cost came to over £13,000.'

Single or Multi-Trip

Something to consider if you regularly fly off for winter, Easter and/or summer breaks is how to get the best price for travel insurance. Multi trip policies can be cheaper than buying single trip insurance for each break and it'll save you time and hassle too.