If you’re heading off to the slopes this winter, make sure your travel insurance is up to the job.
It’s crucial that you have the right policy for your skiing holiday as medical treatment could cost tens of thousands of pounds if you have an accident while you’re away, and not all policies cover winter sports as standard.
Richard Jones, from GoCompare Travel Insurance, said: “Coronavirus has hugely impacted foreign travel over the last 18-24 months, so it’s great to see people venturing back onto the slopes and preparing themselves with the right sort of cover. But with an increase in people looking to visit skiing destinations, it’s worth reminding travellers that a standard travel insurance policy may not provide the right level of cover for this type of holiday.
“Anyone planning a winter sporting holiday will need to take out extra cover on their insurance and this is because, in the eyes of an insurer, a ski break is considered as a higher risk for injuries and accidents than a holiday where you’re going to be sunbathing by a pool.”
If you’re looking for travel insurance, we have partnered with Staysure to provide you with first class travel insurance, tailored to suit your needs. There’s no upper age limit and they’ll cover most pre-existing medical conditions. You can also take advantage of their 20%‡ discount, just quote REST03 at checkout.
‡Discount applies to the base premium of the policy only and not to medical screening costs or add-ons where relevant. Terms, conditions, and exclusions apply.
What ski insurance should cover
The main reason for taking out ski insurance is so that you have medical cover if you have an accident, but you should also look out for:
Not all policies offer this cover, or if they do, they may charge an extra premium. But it’s useful if the resort is closed because of high winds, lack of snow or the risk of avalanche. Some policies have quite a low limit, others are more generous. Check whether a payout is triggered if the piste is closed for any reason or only due to avalanche risk. You should get the cost of ski pack hire and lift passes refunded. Look out for transport cover too. If the pistes nearest to you are closed but another resort several miles away is open, find out whether or not your policy will reimburse taxi costs. Some will, usually up to a limit of £30 or so a day.
Policies that cover winter sports should include cover for the cost of transport to a hospital, but check whether the policy would pay for you to be flown back to the UK if you needed treatment or further treatment. If this isn’t included, you could face a bill for tens of thousands of pounds if you have an accident and need to be transported home.
Off piste skiing
Some policies cover off piste skiing as long as you’re in areas considered safe by the resort management, but others don’t. Check whether the policy specifies that you have a guide with you as it may cause a problem if you’re just skiing with friends and don’t have a professional accompanying you.
Levels of equipment cover
Check levels of ski cover if you have top of the range equipment, and check limits for hired skis too if you’re going to be renting any equipment while you’re away.
It’s not just your own safety you have to worry about. There have been an increasing number of claims from people who’ve been injured by other skiers, so it’s vital that you have personal liability cover in place in case you have an accident that results in someone else being hurt.
The excess is the portion of any insurance claim you must pay yourself. Excess levels can vary widely and you can usually choose how big an excess you’re comfortable paying (make sure the amount you choose is affordable). The real sting comes in how many different excesses you have to pay; some companies only charge you one excess for each incident (so if you fall and break a limb, rip your clothing and damage your hired skis, you would still only pay one excess), while others may impose two or three excess charges. If you’re skiing with your family and have taken out one joint policy, find out if there’s an upper limit on how many excesses you have to pay should you all need to make a claim.
Claims and alcohol
If you enjoy apres ski as much or more than the skiing itself, bear in mind that ski travel insurance policies don’t generally pay out for claims that result from you drinking. That means if you have a fall and a doctor reckons that alcohol was a contributing factor, your policy may be invalidated. Find out some of the other reasons a claim might be refused in our guide Five hidden travel insurance rules that could catch you out.
If you’re going skiing as a family then you can buy a winter sports travel policy that covers children, but it’s worth checking the upper age limit. While many have an age limit of 18, some cover ‘children’ aged up to 23 as long as they are in full time education.
Do your research
What you really want to know – as well as what cover you will get – is how quick the company is when it comes to settling claims. It may not be that easy to find out this information, but a few well-chosen questions should give you a clue.
Ask the insurer what documents they would want you to submit, whether you have to contact them before you spend any money and how they calculate the excess. The cost of documents such as doctor’s certificates can add up; especially if your claim is relatively small. Some companies insist you contact them as soon as possible if your claim will cost more than a few hundred pounds (often £500), which may be the last thing on your mind if you have a painful injury.
You can find out more about travel insurance and where to buy it in our guide Travel Insurance for over 50s – Everything you need to know.