I was prompted to write this article when a friend of my daughter’s knackered his knee playing rugby just a few weeks before his university ski trip. Not only was he gutted that he wouldn’t be able to join his mates on the slopes, but he was also devastated that he was going to lose the hundreds of pounds he’d spent on the trip because he hadn’t taken out ski insurance.
Actually, it looks like his story will have a happy(ish) ending because as it happens, it seems that ski insurance was automatically included in the cost of the trip, so he might be able to get a refund after all, assuming he can get the relevant paperwork from his GP to show that he absolutely cannot ski.
However, this shows how important is it to buy ski insurance as soon as you book your ski trip. In fact, you should always buy travel insurance as soon as you book any holiday in case you’re forced to cancel, due to a medical crisis or other emergency, but it’s even more important with ski insurance because if you sustain an injury before your trip, that’s your entire holiday down the pan.
You might as well buy ski insurance as soon as you book because you’re going to need it anyway, after all, only an idiot would risk going on a winter sports holiday uninsured, wouldn’t they? I mean, it’s a really risky sport and if you do sustain an injury, you might be able to get free medical treatment (in the EU anyway, at least until March 29) but it could cost a fortune to get a flight back home if you break an arm or a leg and require special seating, or need to be flown back for emergency medical treatment. If you’re skiing in the U.S, travel insurance is vital because medial bills in the States are huge.
If you’ve bought ski insurance before, you probably already know that your bog standard travel insurance policy probably won’t give you enough cover, you need a specialist ski or winter sports insurance policy because the risks – and costs – are so much greater.
In addition to cancellation cover, here are some of the things that ought to be included in your ski insurance:
Make sure you’ve got at least £3 million and that mountain rescue and repatriation to the UK are included. You might need a higher level of cover if you’re skiing in the States.
This will protect you against legal action if you accidentally injure someone else or damage their property. It’s easily done on the ski slopes, so look for at least £1 million cover, possibly more if travelling to the U.S.
Make sure your policy provides cover for any equipment you plan to hire, such as skis and snowboards, as well as any equipment you own. Look at how much the policy will pay if your equipment is damaged, stolen or lost in transit – some of the cheaper policies don’t provide nearly enough cover.
Some policies pay daily compensation if you can’t ski because the pistes are closed, either due to bad weather or lack of snow. Note, however, that they usually only pay out if no lifts are operating in your resort for the entire day, so it might not be worth a significantly higher premium.
Lift pass protection
This will cover you if you lose your pass, or you can’t use it because the lifts aren’t turning.
24/7 Emergency helpline
This is a great safety net and, assuming your policy provides one, it should be the first call you make if you have an accident or medical crisis overseas. Insurance companies are experienced in this field, so, if the worst happens, you should be able to put yourself in their hands.
Check to see if your policy includes off-piste skiing as many winter sports policies don’t and even those that do often specify that it must be with a qualified guide and within specified areas. If you’re planning to stray from marked runs or ski beyond a resort’s boundaries, you’ll need a specialist ‘back country’ policy that provides search and rescue cover, including helicopter rescue where necessary. Remember, your policy might be invalid if you ski in an area that’s been closed for safety reasons.
Many ski insurance policies exclude activities such as snowmobiling, heli-skiing and even tobogganing so make sure you read the small print before you travel to ensure you’re covered for everything you plan to do.
Remember that your ski insurance might be invalid if you have an accident while drunk or because you were taking unnecessary risks, so go easy on the après!
How to save money on ski insurance:
- Annual policies that include winter sports cover can work out much cheaper than buying individual policies if you take two or more overseas holidays a year.
- Family policies are the best value and, if you’ve got older children at university, some will cover offspring while they’re still in full-time education, even when they’re travelling alone. Check the small print.
- Check to see if you have cover via your bank, which might be the case if you have a “packaged account”, although these tend not to offer the best value for money overall, and you must check the small print to make sure that winter sports are covered.
- Shop around using price comparison sites or an insurance broker.
- Some resorts try to sell insurance with the lift pass, but if you have comprehensive winter sports insurance you don’t need to buy this, which could save you quite a bit over a week.