If you’re a ski bunny looking to hit the slopes this season, then it’s vital to take as many precautions as possible. No matter how experienced you are on the slopes, it’s important to ensure that you have the right insurance cover in place before you head off to your mountain timeshare resort for some sun, ski and apres-ski…
Accidents including the tragic death of actress Natasha Richardson in Canada in 2009, and Michael Schumacher’s fall on French slopes just over a year ago serve as a timely reminder to stay safe.
Are helmets compulsory?
There’s currently no legal requirement to wear a helmet, but some insurers will only pay out if you’re wearing one.
Direct Line and other insurers don’t enforce donning helmets, but “strongly recommend” it, while Columbus Insurance Services takes a similar approach.
Spokesman Greg Lawson says: “As with most insurers, to be covered under one of our policies you do not have to be wearing a helmet.
“That said, we would encourage all skiers to take appropriate safety precautions on the slopes, including using a helmet, as the benefit of this has been highlighted by high-profile accidents in recent years.
“We would also recommend wearing protective gear, such as wrist guards.”
Winter sports policies
If you want to take out insurance for an upcoming skiing trip, you should check if your existing travel policy includes any cover. While winter sports are usually included as standard with some higher-priced cover, most traditional policies only offer it as an “optional extra”.
Check level of medical cover
Accidents and injuries are extremely common in ski sports, so one thing you need to be mindful of is medical cover. This is essential when you bear in mind that a helicopter piste rescue and flight to a local hospital can set you back around £2,000.
Tom Bishop, head of Direct Line Travel Insurance, says: “Winter sports injuries can be very costly and a skier could face thousands of pounds in charges for mountain rescue, ambulances, new flights and additional accommodation. This is why it is crucial to take out travel cover.”
Other useful extras
It’s also worth checking to see if your winter sports policy offers cover for loss, damage and theft of sports equipment. Other benefits could include compensation for unused, lost or stolen ski passes, and also cover for piste closure.
What if there is no snow?
With snow never guaranteed, piste closure cover can be a handy weapon to have. Most travel insurance policies with winter sports cover do include some protection for bare slopes.
Use a comparison site to compare the ins and outs of travel insurance policies, to make sure you’d be covered in any event.
Other things to bear in mind
It’s worth double checking that your policy covers off-piste skiing and if there are any conditions, such as needing to be accompanied by an instructor. We also recommend finding out whether your insurance covers all the activities you want to try, as some policies will exclude the likes of ski jumping or competitions.
Follow piste guidelines carefully as many policies will not cover you if you’ve been careless and taken risks, or if the claimant was under the influence of alcohol.
Always carry your Ehic card
Finally, always carry a European Health Insurance Card (Ehic), which gives you access to free state-provided healthcare in European Union member countries. However, an Ehic does not cover all medical expenses or the cost of getting you back to the UK.
If you haven’t got one, get one before you travel.
To apply for an Ehic free of charge, visit Nhs.uk.