Broken bones, dislocations and stitches are not really what we want to imagine when we think of our dream vacation on the slopes, but injuries are a reality of any kind of extreme sport, and travel insurance should be one of the most essential things on your holiday shopping list if you are planning a fun-filled holiday in the snow.
Does my travel insurance automatically include ski cover?
The first thing that you should know is that the majority of travel insurance plans don’t include winter sports cover. Most insurers will allow you to add skiing as an optional, but the level of protection and the things you are covered for vary widely depending on the provider. You should pay particular attention if your holiday insurance is provided as part of a “bonus” on your credit cards or through your bank. These are almost guaranteed not to include winter sports as part of their coverage.
Another thing to watch out for is where your coverage is valid. There are many cases of travellers who head to the United States or Canada thinking that they are covered by their worldwide policy only to find themselves deep in debt when their insurer doesn’t cover an accident they have over the pond. Again, most “free” plans from banks only include European travel so watch out for this as well.
Even customers who have paid for an annual or multi-trip insurance policy, which includes winter sports coverage, may be disappointed to find out that ski trips may be severely limited in the number of days.
Virgin Money, for example, says that ski cover is limited to 10 days a year on their annual winter sports policies. Even when covered, policy exclusions suggest that the actual ski activities covered are very restrictive - activities such as downhill skiing and even snowboarding may not be included.
If you are travelling as a family, as a rule insurers allow two adults and a set number of children. The number of children varies from policy to policy but on average two children are allowed for each adult who is insured on the trip.
Ski Insurance is extraordinarily complex, and this is definitely one case when it’s time well spent if you spend some time comparing deals and checking what is and isn’t included in your policy.
The Essential Things That You Should Look for in a Ski Travel Insurance Policy
Emergency mountainside rescue
Loss of use
Loss of passes or equipment
As with any other policy, medical care is a hugely important part of a travel insurance policy. Risk of injury is higher on a winter sports holiday more than different types, so you want to make sure that your policy offers high coverage. The average coverage for medical care is around 10 million for medical care and repatriation.
According to the French Mountain Guide Association, beginner skiers and snowboarders are twice as likely to have an accident resulting in an injury, as more experienced skiers. This is particularly true during the first four days of their first week of skiing or snowboarding. So, you can’t think that just because you are on the “baby slopes” insurance won’t be necessary.
Not just for off-piste skiers and snowboarders, emergency mountainside rescue is the best way that you can protect yourself should something happen to you on the mountainside.
Along with emergency medical expenses, personal liability is a critical part of a winter sports policy - it protects you in the case that you injure somebody else or their property. This is especially important if you will be renting clothes or skis on the slopes.
Make sure that your policy covers any damage you may cause due to your negligence to temporary holiday accommodation or rental gear.
Sometimes you may not be able to use your ski passes due to unforeseen bad weather, illness or injury. Loss of use protects you in these circumstances, usually by giving you a certain amount of money for each unused day of your holiday.
There are some activities which are generally not included in standard ski policies. Off-piste (with or without a guide,) freestyle in snow parks, unattended equipment, ski or snowboard racing, heli-skiing and cross-country skiing are often not included in policies. Use of snowmobiles is almost always not covered. If you plan on doing any of these activities, then you should make sure you read your policy documents. It may be that you need to take out specialist insurance.
Don’t make it easy for thieves to steal your skis from outside restaurants and bars! If you have to leave your skis outside in a rack, then try to avoid leaving both skis together. That just makes them easier to steal! Swapping one ski with your friend will make it much more difficult for criminals who are looking for easy targets that they can steal quickly.
Curtailment means that you will get some money back in the case that you are injured or fall sick during the trip. For the insurance to be triggered, you would need to return home, with medical clearance, and under most policies, the loss is calculated from the date you return home. The “loss” is often counted from when you return home so don’t expect this to cover time spent in the hospital or being treated.
Best Ski Travel Insurance Providers
Who are the best ski travel insurance companies? Nearly all insurers provide ski cover as an added extra or bolt on. However, these companies aren't specialists in ski holidays and so might not cover the full range of activities that might be necessary.
Advanced skiers or those who plan to do more risky activities on the slopes might want to consider a specialist insurer who can give them a wider range of cover.
We compared the prices and cover of some of the specialist and non-specialist ski holiday insurance policies to help you choose the best option for you. Keep in mind that Snowcard, Sports Cover Direct and Travel Insurance Ski Club are designed for skiing holidays and provide a much wider range of cover than standard suppliers such as Aviva. They're definitely worth checking out if you are a real skiing oficionado.