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Sports travel insurance

What is sports travel insurance?

Emma Lunn
Written by  Emma Lunn
Donna McConnell
Reviewed by  Donna McConnell
6 min read
Updated: 06 Mar 2024

Travel insurance covers most low-risk sports played for fun on holiday – but if you’re doing anything with an element of risk or taking part in a competition, you’ll need to check if your policy covers it, if not, pay extra to add on extra specific cover for the sport you plan to take part in. 

Sports travel insurance from a specialist company can cover you for any injuries or accidents sustained while taking part in your chosen sport, and cover your equipment too. Some policies will refund race or competition fees if you cannot take part for a specified reason. 

Whether you’re a golfer, cyclist, or conqueror of mountain summits, you can buy specialist cover to insure you for the specific risks associated with your chosen pastime.  

What sports cover does standard travel insurance include? 

Most standard travel insurance policies include cover for 100 or so sports and activities at no extra cost. 

These typically include things like aerobics, badminton, beach games, tennis, leisure cycling. Check the policy wording for what sports are including. 

With most policies you can add on ‘hazardous activities’ – such as abseiling, kite surfing, paragliding and hiking and trekking – for an extra premium. 

Be aware that every insurer will have its own system for including some sports as standard and charging an extra premium for anything more adventurous. 

When it comes to winter sports, it is typically not included as standard and you will need to purchase it separately. 

The golden rule with insurance is to check your existing travel insurance policy (if you have one) first and see if your chosen activity is covered or can be added for an extra fee. If not, you should look for specialist sports insurance. 

Two people riding a bike through mountains

Check the policy wording 

If your sport or activity is covered, it’s important to check the details. 

For example, policies might have limits on: 

  • Altitude (for hiking, walking and mountaineering)  

  • Supervision (for clay pigeon shooting, high ropes courses etc) 

  • The terrain (road cycling might be covered, but not off-road; mountain biking might only be covered on recognised trails) 

  • Protective equipment (for fencing, skiing, go-karting, horse riding) 

  • Buoyancy equipment (for water sports such as windsurfing) 

  • Engine power (for go-karting, motorcycling) 

  • Grade (white water rafting or kayaking) 

  • Depth (scuba diving) 

Competitions and events 

When you buy a sports insurance add-on, check if competitions are covered. The kind of cover you will need will depend on the sport and the competition.  

For example, marathon insurance which will protect you against medical expenses, liability, and repatriation, as well as travel benefits such as baggage, travel delay, and cancellation. 

If you’re a professional sports person and you make a living or generate an income from your sport, you’ll need travel insurance for professional sports. 

What does sports insurance cover? 

If you’re buying additional sports insurance coverage, ideally it should cover: 

  • Medical expenses for injuries, accidents and illness 

  • Emergency rescue and transport, and repatriation if necessary 

  • Holiday cancellation and curtailment 

  • Lost, stolen or damaged baggage 

  • Personal liability – if you accidentally injure another person or damage their property during you chosen activity 

  • Personal injury – a lump sum in the event of permanent disability or death 

  • Loss or damage to sports equipment (owned or hired) 

  • Loss of pre-paid race entry fees following an accident, injury or illness that prevents you from starting the race, event or competition. 

If you are travelling within Europe make sure you have a GHIC – this covers state-provided healthcare. Some insurers insist you hold a GHIC (or valid EHIC) before they will pay medical claims.  

How do I buy specialist sports travel insurance? 

This page gives information about a financial product that’s not currently available through MoneySuperMarket. We hope you find this information useful, but bear in mind that we’re unable to help you buy this product at the moment. 

If your sport isn’t covered by standard travel insurance, and can’t be added, you should look for specialist sports insurance. 

Many providers will quote for a tailor-made policy for your trip. 

For example, an insurer will either cover your entire trip or provide top-up cover if your activity isn’t covered by your main travel insurance.  

Specialist sports insurance covers adventure sports such as: 

  • Aquathlon 

  • Adventure racing 

  • Cliff diving 

  • Cross channel swimming 

  • Cross country skiing and races 

  • Deep sea fishing 

  • E-biking 

  • Extreme pogo 

  • Medieval combat 

  • Via Ferrata 

Winter sports insurance covers skiing, snowboarding and various other winter activities. It’s not often included as standard on many annual travel insurance policies so can be added as an optional extra. 

You will also need specialist insurance for scuba diving beyond 30m, cycling or rock climbing

What’s not covered by sports insurance? 

Sports insurance policy exclusions will vary but most policies have exclusions similar to standard travel insurance. These include: 

  • Undeclared pre-existing conditions: You need to tell insurers about medical conditions in advance for them to be covered. 

  • Choosing not to travel: You can’t claim simply because you no longer want to go on holiday or take part in the sport. 

  • Negligence: Such as if you hurt yourself while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, or if your belongings are stolen while left unattended. 

  • Recoverable losses: This includes being able to rebook a trip and credit vouchers 

  • Professional sports: The definition of a pro varies between insurers but you’ll need specialist insurance if you generate a certain level of income from your sport  

  • Reckless behaviour: If you didn’t wear safety gear stated in the policy or you recklessly disobeyed an instructor 

What do I need to get a sports insurance quote? 

You’ll normally need to give the following information to get a sports travel insurance quote: 

  • Your age 

  • What sports or activities you will be doing 

  • The country you live 

  • Your destination country 

  • Any pre-existing medical conditions 

Insurers might ask more specific questions depending on the sport. For example, your anticipated altitude on a hiking trip or immersion depth on a scuba diving holiday. 

Sports travel insurance FAQ 

Is there an age restriction with sports travel insurance add ons? 

Age limits will vary between insurers. If you are over 65, you will probably need to pay more. If you have travel insurance with a packaged bank account, check the age limit before going skiing or taking part in any other winter sport. 

Does normal travel insurance cover sporting injuries or equipment? 

This depends on the policy. Sporting injuries will usually be covered under medical expenses. Equipment might be covered against theft (i.e. someone breaks into your hotel room and steals your tennis racket) but not against damage during the activity (i.e. your squash racket breaks because you hit the wall while playing). 

Can I get insurance as a professional sportsperson? 

Sports pros should get insurance that covers them for competitions both in their home country and abroad as well as injuries and premature retirement. This won’t be covered by sports travel insurance. 

Can I get sports travel insurance with a pre-existing condition? 

You will need to declare any pre-existing medical conditions when buying travel insurance for sport. 

A pre-existing condition is a health or medical condition you've been diagnosed with or had treatment for. It also includes ailments you are waiting a diagnosis for. 

When you tell an insurer about a pre-existing condition, it will do one of the following: 

  • Offer standard insurance cover at no extra cost 

  • Offer cover but exclude the pre-existing condition 

  • Charge a higher premium to cover your condition 

  • Refuse to offer insurance