Most of us have seen enough snow to last a lifetime, but there are plenty of skiing enthusiasts about to head off for a session on the slopes as winter season kicks into gear. Worryingly though, the Foreign and Commonwealth office suggests a third of those travellers heading off to enjoy some winter sports do so without sufficient travel insurance – a gamble given the number of accidents that take place all the time on the slopes.
Research by esure last year found that the average cost of being airlifted off the slopes will set you back £1,500. That’s an awful lot of money, before you even consider additional costs like the treatment itself, and getting you home again.
So if you are planning a break on the piste, and need to get your winter sports travel insurance in check, be sure to follow these tips:
1) A valid EHIC
If you’re travelling within the EU, carry a valid European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) with you. Every member of your family should have one and they’re free! If you or a family member falls ill or has an accident in a European Union country, you may be able to get reduced-cost, sometimes free, medical treatment by presenting your EHIC to the hospital or doctor that is treating you.
Remember the EHIC is NOT a substitute for travel insurance. It will not cover any private medical healthcare or the cost of things such as mountain rescue in ski resorts, repatriation to the UK or lost or stolen property. You should take out adequate travel insurance for visits to all countries, regardless of whether you are covered by your EHIC.
2) Be careful with alcohol
Due to the altitude of being up a mountain, alcohol can become far more potent – so you’re likely to get a bit tipsy far quicker. Remember, many travel insurance policies will include an exclusion covering claims made as a result of consuming alcohol.
3) Stick to what you know – and what you’re covered for!
Not only is there a wide variety of different winter sports that you can partake in, there are all sorts of different difficulty levels too. This is hugely important when it comes to arranging your travel insurance for your trip, as you have to be certain that whatever you plan to get up to on the slopes is fully covered.
For example, many general policies will have specific wording explaining where you stand insurance-wise should you go off-piste (some may cover you, so long as you are not alone, for example). If you plan to do something particularly adventurous, then you might need to get specialist insurance, as general policies are unlikely to cover you.
4) Get the right cover, not just the cheapest
While it is always nice to get the cheapest possible travel insurance policy, it also pays to be completely confident in what the policy will cover you for. Put in a bit of time to read the wording of the policy to understand exactly what you are insured for.
5) Protect your ski gear
Your travel insurance policy is also important in terms of protecting your equipment. Theft on the slopes is a growing problem, as many skiers are not taking sufficient precautions when they stop at a bar or restaurant.
One tip is to swap a ski with one of your fellow skiers when you stop off – ie, trade your left one with your friend’s left one – as thieves are unlikely to want to steal an odd pair of skis. You can also get your hands on a specialist lock for about £10 which should help.
Many policies will not pay out if your equipment has been left ‘unattended’ so read your policy and make absolutely sure what they mean by unattended. If your gear is stolen, don’t delay in reporting it to the police, as some insurers will refuse your claim otherwise.
Finally, if your gear is badly damaged while skiing and you want to make a claim, make sure you bring the skis home – insurers are unlikely to pay out if you leave them at the resort – while it’s also a good idea to get a letter from the resort shop or your instructor confirming the damage took place while at the resort, and not before you even got there.
Ski travel insurance
Ski travel insurance can be purchased for just £11.82* at 24/7 travel insurance – a small price to pay to be able to really enjoy your wintersports holiday on the slopes!
* Premium £11.82 includes Insurance Premium Tax, Personal Possessions cover and Wintersports cover. Based on a ‘standard’ single trip 24/7 travel insurance policy for one adult aged under 55 travelling to Europe for 3 days. Policy purchased within 14 days of departure date. Cover details and prices are correct at time of going to press (February 2010) and are subject to change.