Travellers warned on importance of ski insuranceSkiers without insurance could face big bills

20 November 2010

Up to a million Britons will be playing ‘financial Russian Roulette’ on the ski slopes this winter, according to Axa Insurance, because they will take to the piste without having adequate travel insurance in place.

The firm’s data suggests that around 17% of the UK’s adult population will enjoy a ski or snowboarding holiday, yet 10% of these holidaymakers will not take out travel insurance. A further 25% will rely on an annual travel insurance policy they already have in place, without checking whether this covers them for winter sports.

The insurer points out that this could leave people exposed to potential costs of tens, or even hundreds, of thousands of pounds should they be injured while skiing or snowboarding. Evacuation from a ski slope in Austria, plus an operation and repatriation to the UK, could cost up to £25,000, Axa claims – with the cost of treatment for an injury suffered while on holiday in the USA or Canada likely to be even higher.

Travel insurance misunderstood by skiers

Around 30% of skiers and snowboarders are likely to make insurance claims at some point, according to Axa, and 25% of them have suffered some sort of injury while on holiday in the past.

However, it seems there is a worrying lack of understanding about what travel insurance will, and will not cover, among winter sports enthusiasts. 19% of the people questioned by Axa did not believe injuries would be covered by a travel insurance policy, while around 30% thought that transport home would not be covered if they had to be brought back to the UK.

Why skiers need travel cover

A good travel insurance policy will cover up to £2m worth of medical expenses, will meet the cost of repatriating you to the UK if necessary and will also cover you for a variety of other needs that might arise in an emergency. For example, you’d be covered for personal liability in the event you caused an injury to another person, or damage to their property – which might prove particularly important to anyone taking part in winter sports on a crowded slope.

Travel insurance should also provide you with protection in the event your baggage is lost or stolen, and if you have to cancel or curtail your holiday due to illness or bereavement.

Insurance that covers skiing specifically may also provide you with financial protection should the pistes be closed, and offer cover for damage you may cause to expensive equipment. However, you may need additional cover if you intend to rake part in unusual winter sports such as skidooing or heliskiing – so be sure to check the terms and conditions of your policy.

Top travel insurance tips for skiers

Axa has put together a selection of travel insurance tips for skiers, which are well worth considering before you buy a policy or set off for the slopes.

  • If you already have a travel insurance policy, check to ensure it covers winter sports. If so, check whether there is a limit on how many days’ skiing are covered; some policies have limits that you don’t want to fall foul of.
  • Check that your policy limits are suitable for your needs. If you have especially expensive skis or equipment, make sure the full value of these would be covered.
  • Always pay due care and attention to your equipment. If you leave it unattended in a vehicle, for example, your insurer may refuse to pay out should it be stolen.
  • Don’t take part in unusual winter sports (such as skidooing or heliskiing) without checking you will be covered for this. Likewise, if you intend to ski off-piste ensure that this is covered.
  • Be sure you understand the excess levels you have agreed to, and make sure you can afford them. Otherwise, you could be left in financial difficulty should you need to make an insurance claim.
  • If you’ve arranged your own holiday rather than booked through a tour operator, make sure you have travel insurance that will cover you for problems such as delayed departure, or additional accommodation should you be unable to get home as planned.

Amanda Edwards, of Axa Insurance, says: 'Obviously money is tight for many people at the moment and holidays are expensive. But to cut insurance out is a false economy. Dealing with an injury is stressful enough but having no insurance could mean the damage lasts until long after the plaster cast has been removed.' 

The Which? travel insurance review compares travel insurance policies based on the quality of cover they offer, as well as how much they cost. All of our Best Buy travel insurance policies meet stringent criteria, so you can be sure you're buying a good level of cover for a competitive price.

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