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What is ski insurance?

Find out how ski and winter sports insurance works and what types of cover a good policy should include.

In this article
What is ski insurance? What does ski insurance cover? How can I find cheap ski insurance?
Does regular travel insurance cover skiing? Does ski insurance have an age limit? Can I get ski insurance if I have a pre-existing medical condition?

What is ski insurance?

Ski insurance, also known as winter sports insurance, is a specific kind of travel insurance policy tailored to cover anything that might go wrong on a skiing or snowboarding holiday.

This includes ski and snowboard equipment, medical treatment, and the costs that come with ski-related injuries. 

Standard travel insurance policies will not always cover these things, so it’s important to take ski insurance if you want to be protected when doing any kind of winter sports abroad.

Also bear in mind that European Health Insurance Card (Ehic) and new Global Health Insurance Card (Ghic) don't cover the cost of rescue from the slopes - relying on them alone could prove extremely costly.

A degree of winter sports insurance is now mandatory for skiers in Italy, after a new law came into force in January 2022.

 

What does ski insurance cover?

Most ski trip insurance policies will cover the following:

Medical expenses

Getting injured on the slopes can be expensive. There's the cost of the treatment itself, which may be covered by the new Ehic replacement, the Ghic. But there's also the price of air ambulance rescue from the mountains and of repatriation if you need to be sent home. 

It's also worth noting that while the Ehic covered cardholders for treatment in some non-EU countries, including ski hotspot Switzerland, the Ghic is only valid in the EU.

Most ski insurance policies will cover these up to a certain amount, usually in the millions of pounds. When we looked at more than 250 policies in September and October 2019, the median coverage was £10m, and some had no upper limit. Due to the pandemic, we didn't examine ski trip insurance policies in 2020.

Lost, stolen or damaged equipment

If your skis, sticks or snowboards are damaged, stolen, or go missing, most policies will cover you for several hundred pounds, though some go into the thousands. You can claim back the cost of your own equipment, or for hiring replacement equipment. 

Cancellation or curtailment

If you have to cancel or cut short your trip due to an injury, you can claim back the cost of what you missed. £15,000 was the most coverage we found in October 2019 - again, this was prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Avalanche delay

Very specific to winter sports breaks, ski insurance will cover you if an avalanche delays your skiing. 

Piste closure

You can claim for this if you can't ski because the piste is closed. It will normally have to be closed for a certain amount of time first. 

Other eventualities

Ski insurance can also cover events like death, overseas funerals, and legal costs for causing injury to others or damaging someone else's property. (The latter are what's now legally required in Italy.)

Check each policy carefully to see what it will and won't cover before you decide on an insurer. 

How can I find cheap ski insurance?

As with any kind of insurance, our first tip for finding cheap ski insurance is to shop around, rather than buying from the holiday provider.

You can do this by using a price comparison site (just tick the 'winter sports' box when entering your details and requirements). Don't forget to check insurers who aren't on comparison sites just in case they have better offers. 

It's also important not to prioritise cost at the expense of quality. Read our travel insurance reviews to find out who the best providers are. And make sure you have adequate levels of cover for each policy element. We generally recommend the following:

  • Medical expenses: £5m
  • Cancellation cover: £2,000 (or the value of your holiday if you paid more)
  • Personal belongings: £1,500 (or the value of your possessions if higher)
  • Personal liability cover: £1m
  • Covid cover: look for a 'superior' or 'complete' Which? rating

Find out more: how to find cheap travel insurance

Does regular travel insurance cover skiing?

Many aspects of a ski trip are not covered by standard insurance policies. This is because winter sports holidays have a number of risks that other trips do not. 

If your insurance policy doesn't cover winter sports, you won't be covered for a huge number of unfortunate mishaps that could happen while you're away. 

Regular travellers with annual insurance policies might be an exception here. It's worth checking your policy to see if it already covers winter sports. Some annual policies may include a certain number of days' ski insurance cover. Ask your insurer if you're not sure. 

You could also already have winter sports cover as part of a packaged bank account travel policy. Again, it's worth checking to find out. 

Does ski insurance have an age limit?

Age limits tend to vary from insurer to insurer - while some won't cover people over the age of 65, others have no upper age limit.

If you find yourself offered very high premiums it could be worth finding a specialist insurer or broker (see below). But it's worth getting quotes from comparison sites first as there's no requirement to get 'senior'-branded cover.

Can I get ski insurance if I have a pre-existing medical condition?

As with standard travel insurance, you may be able to get ski insurance if you have a pre-existing medical condition, but it could cost you more. This is because insurers may perceive you to be more likely to claim for medical assistance. 

Alternately, insurers may exclude claims connected with your condition.

Both the government's MoneyHelper service and the British Insurance Brokers Association (Biba) offer directories of specialist insurance firms that may be able to offer you comprehensive cover with a lower premium - though these quotes should be compared with those from standard insurers.

Find out more about how to get the best cover when you have a pre-existing condition with our guide to medical conditions travel insurance.

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