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16 Nov 2019

Millions have never had ski insurance: is it worth avoiding?

A third of adults who have been on ski holidays say they skipped insurance

The equivalent of 3.5 million British adults have been on ski holidays without taking out travel insurance, a new survey reveals. But should you take the risk?

Winter sports trips where you will hit the slopes to ski or snowboard carry an increased risk of injury so it's important to take out specialist policies to make sure you're covered.

Here, we look at when you might need to claim on a winter sports holiday and reveal how to find the best ski insurance using our new star ratings of policies from more than 250 providers.

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How risky are ski trips?

A recent survey from ABTA - the travel trade association - found that a third of adults in the UK who have been on winter sports holidays admit they have never had travel insurance.

The age group most likely to have taken out insurance is 45-54 year-olds. More than half of the people who have been skiing in this group have been insured. In contrast, only three in 10 younger travellers aged 18-24 are taking out cover.

But it's younger people who are most likely to experience or witness a major accident on a ski holiday. One in eight 25-34 year-olds have travelled with someone who had a major accident requiring hospitalisation, and 6% have been hospitalised themselves.

Treatment for ski-related injuries can be hugely expensive for those without insurance. And since insurers see it as a higher risk, you'll need to take out special ski insurance to be covered for injuries on the slopes. If you're not, a claim on your regular travel insurance may not be upheld.

At the moment, an Ehic might help with the costs of medical treatment. But the future of the Ehic after Brexit is up in the air since most countries have not confirmed they will keep supporting the scheme.

What does winter sports insurance cover?

As well as injuries on the slopes, ski insurance will cover associated costs such as air ambulance rescue and getting you back home. If a very serious accident results in a fatality, it can cover funeral costs. It can also cover the legal costs of injuring other skiers.

It's not just accidents that could ruin your ski holiday. Winter sports insurance will also cover:

  • Lost, damaged or stolen equipment: much of which could be worth hundreds or thousands of pounds
  • Cancellation or curtailment: if you need to cut your holiday short due to injury
  • Avalanche delay: avalanche delays could ruin a ski trip
  • Piste closure: in case the ski run you're visiting has to shut down for a certain period

It's important to read ski insurance policies carefully to make sure they cover you for all you need. Some insurers may not cover skiing off-piste without a guide, for example, while others might not cover rental equipment.

How to find the best ski insurance

In September and October 2019, Which? experts carried out analysis of winter sports insurance policies from more than 250 providers.

We've given each element of every policy a star rating, so you can choose an insurer based on what's important to you.

We've also compiled details of the coverage limits and excesses of each policy so you can make sure you're getting the level of cover you need.

You can find the results in our new guide to the best ski insurance policies.

Other top tips for finding travel insurance include:

  • Start early: this will give you more time to find a good policy, and could mean you're covered if your holiday provider goes bust before you're due to leave
  • Use price comparison websites: but make sure you find a policy that is good value, not just cheap
  • Read terms and conditions: it might seem like a bunch of jargon, but your policy's small print could be hiding important details

Claiming on your travel insurance

If you end up needing to make a claim, our detailed guide to how to claim on your travel insurance will tell you all you need to know. If you're having trouble with the process, we have another guide to the problems you might have claiming on travel insurance.