If you are planning to bring in the year by hitting the slopes, get the right travel cover in place or you could spend the rest of the year paying off a huge bill.
Anyone is taking a risk if they go abroad without comprehensive travel insurance, but for skiers and snowboarders planning an adrenaline-fuelled holiday, it is a massive financial gamble.
Losing your luggage is one thing, but serious injuries that require mountain rescue cost thousands of pounds, and you will be footing that bill from your own pocket if you don’t have insurance.
Head of travel insurance at Direct Line, says: “A good winter-sports policy will include generous medical cover. This is important because trips to foreign hospitals, piste evacuations and getting patients back home to the UK can be extremely expensive. For example, a piste rescue by helicopter could cost upwards of £2,000, and an air ambulance back from the Alps could exceed £10,000.”
Some insurers offer winter sports as standard on their policies but otherwise you can usually extend the cover.
Comprehensive medical cover should include emergency transport to hospital and back home to the UK. The director of travel insurer Protect Your Bubble, says that one of the highest winter sports claims he has dealt with totalled almost £15,000.
“High costs can ensue if you need to be rescued from the mountainside or repatriated to the UK. If you have a leg injury, your insurer may have to book multiple seats on a plane for your return journey, or with more severe injuries you could require repatriation with a medical practitioner, which could cost thousands of pounds,” he says.
For extra peace of mind, you can pay a local premium at the ski resort, which covers rescue and transport on or off-piste. For example, in France skiers can buy a Carré Neige pass for a few euros per day, which covers rescue and a few basic medical bills. However, you still need a travel-insurance policy to protect you against other costs.
Cover can vary hugely from provider to provider, and simply plumping for the cheapest one is often a mistake. Agreeing to pay a higher excess can reduce your premiums, but this is no saving at all if you can’t actually afford to cover it in the event of a claim.
It is essential to check the small print on these policies to so you know exactly what you are covered for while away. While the cheapest policies will ensure you have more money in your pocket, you may find that you won’t be covered enough, especially for expensive ski equipment.
It’s not much fun but do read the exclusions and caveats before you choose your policy. If you already have insurance through a packaged current account or a credit card, check to ensure it offers adequate protection. The “summary of cover” is a good starting point but you can always phone the insurer if there’s anything you’re not sure of.
If you are planning any other trips, you can save money with an annual policy but be warned that some limit their winter-sports cover to a set number of days per year or a maximum number of ski trips.
Similarly, couples and families can be put under one policy, but the premiums will be based on the oldest traveller, so if you are travelling with someone aged 65 and over, it may be better to get them a separate policy.