When one mentions insurance policies, premiums, terms and conditions… sometimes it can all be a bit head scratching and mind boggling! It’s hard enough understanding the small print included in your travel insurance policy, yet alone the small print that comes with your winter travel insurance policy. Don’t panic- we have it covered. By the end of this nifty Insider’s Guide you’ll understand the importance of winter travel insurance and how it can benefit you.
What is winter sports travel insurance?
If you want to head to the mountains for a spot of skiing/snowboarding, sledging or anything else that involves snow then you will need to get specialist insurance and covers winter sports and activities, as opposed to regular activities you might do on holiday.
Why do I need winter sports travel insurance?
Normal travel insurance will not usually allow you to claim if you have an accident when you are taking part in winter sports like skiing and snowboarding. Anyone taking part in sports like this must understand the risk of personal injury and/or injury to others that is associated. When travelling abroad, a broken ankle or wrist can often mean that you are slapped with a very large, hefty cheque on your departure from hospital and yes, it could easily land you in a spot of financial trouble.
But it’s not all doom and gloom!
Making sure that you are adequately covered before you jet off could help you in more ways than one. I’m sure everyone cringes at the idea of riding a snowboard into a tree, but your winter sports travel insurance policy will not only protect you if you have an injury, but also in the situation where your skis and snowboards are lost or stolen, or your flight is unexpectedly cancelled, or, if you have booked your skiing holiday for your family and, lo and behold, you arrive at the destination only to find out that it hasn’t snowed enough and all the lifts are still closed! In some cases, your insurance policy should also help you out on that front too, by covering costs to transport you to and from the snow every day.
According to data gathered by the ABTA, a shocking 31% of skiers who head out to the mountains to get their snow fix hadn’t got the correct insurance policy in place before they leave! It’s an enormous gamble- many skiers might argue that they’ve never had an accident or incident before wherein they had to make a claim, but having confidence in your own ability cannot spare you from an accident caused by a third party, theft or unforeseeable weather circumstances.
There are more reasons than one to make sure that you have the right kind of insurance before you travel out for your skiing holiday but we think that the most important is actually the simplest: it could save your life.
What's the difference between regular travel insurance and winter sports travel insurance?
Regular travel insurance will cover certain things regarding travel- such as the loss, or damage to your baggage, theft of your belongings, delayed or cancelled flights etc.
Winter sports travel insurance already covers all of these basics but it takes into account that the purpose of your holiday isn’t to sunbathe quite harmlessly on a beach and read a book, it’s to enjoy a sport that can be quite unpredictable. While the fundamental parts of winter sports travel insurance and regular travel insurance policies are very similar, winter sports travel insurance takes into account the potential high-cost bills that might be incurred in the event of an accident.
It comes as a relief knowing that we’re covered in the case where we should have a tumble, but winter sports insurance also goes the extra mile. Ski holidays have the tendency to be quite expensive with lift passes and equipment rental racking up the prices, so you’ll be pleased to know that you can be reimbursed on these additional costs if the snow coverage in your chosen resort isn’t adequate, or your rental skis and boards were accidentally stolen or damaged.
As a result, the premiums might be a little bit higher but it is worth every penny. You might need to check the terms and conditions of your policy before you indulge in an activity like off-piste skiing/snowboarding because some policies only allow this activity providing you take a certified guide with you.
What does winter sports travel insurance cover?
It is common for your insurer to include cover for a variety of winter activities such as tobogganing, off-piste skiing, ice skating and heli-skiing, damage to or loss of your equipment (this can include hired equipment) and reimbursement of ski school fees, hire costs and lift passes should you suffer an accident and your holiday is cut short (for a full summary of our partner Winter Sports Insurance covers, click here).
Be cautious however: while many policies seem to allow a fair number of activities, quite often there are some firm restrictions on the activity (and read the small print to check that more adventurous activities are actually covered). For example- off-piste skiing and snowboarding is permitted but only with a certified guide provided by a licensed operator. Some more hazardous activities like heli skiing are permitted but ONLY if they are booked through Inghams. Booking your excursion locally may not be covered. A GoCompare research poll found that out of 454 policies, 81% would insure off-piste skiing but 71% placed restrictions on the activity, such as requiring a guide.
A general level of safety and precaution is advised to be exercised too, and here are a few snippets of advice:
Follow good piste etiquette: Rule of the thumb is always give way to those in front of you and below you. Read more about good piste etiquette in our handy guide here.
Take safety precautions: In a nutshell- wear a helmet. In some cases, you won’t be able to claim insurance on a head injury if the policy holder finds out that you weren’t wearing a helmet when you sustained your injury. Helmets are easy to rent along with your skis, boots and poles and it is highly advisable that you take this opportunity. It is even becoming the law in various places that children must have a helmet! Further advice is to get yourself a pair of goggles and take extra effort to protect your eyes from the bright snow. Goggles will also protect your eyes on a snowy day, meaning you can enjoy your skiing even when it’s overcast!
Dress sensibly: Proper ski clothing is available at a very good price these days, and you can always rent your waterproof outer layers. You should aim to wear several layers of warm clothing underneath your waterproof layer to keep the heat in. Socks are also crucial, so aim for something that has sweat-wicking properties to keep your feet toasty all day long. You can read more about what to wear for your ski trip in our handy guide here.
Look after your skin: You wouldn’t think it, but getting sun burnt while up in the mountains is actually surprisingly common! The bright sun is reflected off the snow under your feet, hence why many keen skiers and snowboards have a distinctive ‘goggle tan’!
Don’t go alone: Even if you’re the best skier on the mountain, make sure you never venture off piste on your own. You never know when you might run into a spot of trouble and you need a pal to help you out!