Going skiing? 5 steps to getting the right travel insurance

Hitting the slopes this ski season? Taking out travel insurance that covers you for winter sports is a vital part of your pre-holiday preparations.

Family on ski lift

If you're off on a skiing holiday, it's important to take the right type of travel insurance with you.

Not only do you need cover for all the potential problems you can have on a summer holiday, such as having to cancel your trip due to illness and losing your luggage, you also need to be protected in case you have an accident and need helicoptering off the mountain – something that can cost tens of thousands of pounds.

Here are five steps to getting the right cover so you can enjoy your trip, safe in the knowledge that you’re protected should anything go wrong.

1. Buy early

As Forrest Gump once said, life is “like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get”.

So, just in case the next chocolate you get turns out to be falling over and breaking your ankle, it’s sensible to buy your winter sports travel insurance just after booking your holiday.

That way, you can get your money back by claiming under the “cancellation” part of the policy should anything happen to force you to cancel your trip.

2. Check cover levels

The chances of injuring yourself skiing or snowboarding are a lot higher than the chances of having an accident while lying on the beach.

So when taking out cover for a winter sports holiday, it is vital to check that you will be covered for on-piste rescue, as well as any further medical treatment you may require.

Other things to check include that the policy covers you for loss or damage to ski equipment – whether owned or hired - and whether your policy includes piste closure cover and sufficient personal liability insurance in case you crash into someone on the slopes.

It’s also worth making sure the policy offers enough cover for across-the-board problems such as your airline or accommodation provider going bust.

MoneySuperMarket recommends at least the following levels of cover:

  • £10m for medical expenses (consider a higher level in North America)
  • £2m personal liability (consider a higher level in North America)
  • £5,000 cancellation - or enough to cover the total cost of your holiday
  • £1,500 baggage
  • £250 for cash
  • Excess of £100 per policy, not per person
  • Cover for scheduled airline failure and end supplier failure is desirable
  • Delay cover (e.g. £20/hour for first 12 hours)

3. Look out for exclusions

Looking forward to long, boozy lunches at cosy, slope-side restaurants?

For some people, lunch and après-ski are just as – if not more – important than the skiing or snowboarding in between.

But beware: insurers can refuse to pay medical costs if you were “under the influence of alcohol” at the time of an accident.

So you might want to limit your intake if you’re planning to hit the pistes again afterwards.

Other common exclusions to note include having your ski equipment stolen while unattended, and it’s also worth checking whether you are required to wear a helmet.

Most insurers leave the choice up to you, but there are some who insist on it in their terms.

4. Check for restrictions

Most ski resorts offer a range of off-mountain activities such as sleigh rides, sledging and ice-skating.

So to avoid having to think twice about taking part in an activity, make sure you’ve taken out winter sports cover, rather than a specific ski insurance policy.

Cover of this kind is generally available as an add-on to a standard policy, and includes a variety of “winter sports” including skiing and snowboarding.

When purchasing an annual policy, you should also check if there is a limit on the winter sports cover

Just remember that even the most wide-ranging policy is unlikely to cover high-risk activities such as unaccompanied, off-piste skiing or speed riding – a high-speed mix of paragliding and skiing.

So if you’re an adrenaline junkie, specialist insurance may well prove a good call.

When purchasing an annual policy, you should also check if there is a limit on the winter sports cover. On many policies, you are restricted to about 20 days a year.

5. Apply for an EHIC

An EHIC is NOT a substitute for travel cover if you are taking a ski holiday in a European resort.

It won’t cover the cost of getting you off the mountain after an accident, or in some cases the ongoing transport and medical costs you incur.

And it will, of course, do nothing to protect you should your flight be cancelled or your phone fall out of your pocket while you whizz down the slopes.

It will, however, entitle you to the same level of health care as a resident of the country you are in, and it’s free to apply for so it’s well worth having.

Importantly, having an EHIC can also make the difference between your insurer covering your medical bills and rejecting your claim.

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