Winter might not be the most popular season but it does have one redeeming feature – winter sports! There is something about skiing and snowboarding which can turn even the most docile person into a speed demon which might explain why one in seven skiers need medical care*. Yet a quarter of Britons still travel without insurance on their winter sports holiday*.
Winter Sports travel insurance covers many things that standard travel insurance and the EHIC (European Health Insurance Card) do not.
That said, the EHIC should still be an essential item in your packing**. It entitles you to reduced-cost, sometimes free, medical treatment that becomes necessary while you are in a European Economic Area (EEA) country or Switzerland. But the EHIC only gives you access to state-provided medical treatment only. This might not cover all the things you would expect to get free of charge from the NHS in the UK. You may have to make a contribution to the cost of your care and it will not cover personal repatriation. The EHIC is definitely no substitute for comprehensive travel insurance.
If you hurt yourself on the slopes, being rescued is an expensive business especially if you need to be airlifted off the mountain. In the USA and Canada for example, travellers without insurance are expected to settle their costs directly. An uninsured Briton repatriated back to London from Vancouver can expect a bill of £6,000*, and that doesn’t include the costs of your rescue from the slopes and initial medical treatment.
Do make sure that your ski travel insurance policy covers you for all types of mountain rescue – without wishing to sound alarmist, when you are in agony after a fall you will be very glad that, if needed, you are covered for a helicopter hospital transfer rather than having to be dragged down the mountain. Keep your ski insurance details and your EHIC on your person while on the slopes to avoid any potential delays with treatment.
Going off-piste is thrilling and enables you to access top-quality snow. Be sure to check that you are covered for this – many travel insurance policies exclude it altogether, or insist on taking a guide.
Snow conditions can make or break a ski holiday. Some ski areas have reported a lack of snow in recent years and have had to close lifts and pistes. Equally, too much snow can lead to avalanche warnings and resort closures. A good winter sports travel insurance policy should cover you for transportation costs to take you to an alternative skiing area in the event that ALL skiing facilities in your pre-booked resort are closed due to lack of snow or avalanche.
Nowadays you can do so much more than just ordinary skiing and snowboarding on your holiday. Many resorts offer snowmobiling, dog sledding, ice diving, parapenting and many more adventurous activities. The winter sports industry is very ingenious and often you will find a new activity available every year. It is very important to check with your insurer before you go that you are covered for your daring exploits.
Another very important reason to take out ski insurance is to cover you for third-party liability. Check your policy for the terms of cover. Winter sports have a high potential for causing injury to others and there have been a number of high-profile and distressing court cases as a result of skiers colliding.
Travel Insurance with Winter Sports top-up cover can be purchased from under £10*** at http://www.247travelinsurance.co.uk/ – a small price to pay to be able to relax and really enjoy your winter sports holiday.
*Source: Telegraph.co.uk, dated 2nd November 2007
**You may apply for an EHIC online at www.dh.gov.uk/travellers or by calling 0845 606 2030. Application forms are also available from the Post Office.
*** Premium £9.53 includes Insurance Premium Tax; based on a Standard Single Trip Policy for an adult aged under 55 travelling to Europe for 3 days.