Are you on a slippery slope on your Winter Sports holiday?

skiingRecent ABTA research has highlighted the fact that winter sports holidays are experiencing a boom in popularity – 15% of those jetting off for a Winter break are planning to enjoy Winter sports, which has increased 5% since 2012. Early snow in resorts in Europe and North America has allowed the slopes to be opened earlier than usual. The forthcoming Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia may also prove an inspiration for many keen amateur or novice skiers.

Worryingly though, a high proportion of skiers and snowboarders are travelling without adequate winter sports travel insurance. Research on behalf of ABTA has uncovered a worrying picture of the amount of people taking part in these potentially hazardous sports, without covering themselves for the possibility of needing emergency medical care. Over a third (36%) of Brits on a Winter Sports holiday go away without buying specialist Winter Sports insurance, a figure which has increased from 30% in 2012. This figure is highest (47%) amongst the under 35’s age group (who are the sector most likely to go on this sort of holiday.

Victoria Bacon (Abta Head of Communications) has stated that:

“It’s great to see winter sports holidays continuing to grow in popularity and we would urge anyone planning a winter sports holiday to make sure that they have specific insurance. Unfortunately, accidents can happen and can lead to costly medical bills, but having the right kind of cover means people can make the most of their time on the slopes without having to worry”

The extreme nature of Winter sports means that there is always an element of risk involved, no matter how experienced you are. There is always the potential for an accident on the slopes, which could result in you having to be helicoptered off a mountain, with the ensuing medical costs possibly running into thousands of pounds. Sainsbury’s Bank Travel Insurance warn that the cost of medical treatment for Winter sports related injuries has escalated in 4 out of 6 of Britain’s favourite foreign ski resorts. The study looked at average Winter sports injury claims (including emergency transportation) from the 2011/2012 ad 2009/10 ski seasons. They found:

– Average treatment costs in Canada and the USA were the most expensive, at £3, 483
– Winter sports claims were a lot lower in Europe, but they are rising e.g. Bulgarian treatment costs rose an amazing 97.5 % higher in 2011/12 compared to 2009/10.
– Other destinations were there has been a marked increase over a two year-period, are Austria (52%), Switzerland (28%) and France (18%).

It is important to remember as well, that the £3, 483 figure quoted is an average claim, if you are unlucky enough to need airlifting or specialist medical treatment, or repatriation to the UK, that figure could escalate many times over.

The message then, is to make sure that you have either taken out specialist Winter Sports or Ski travel insurance or added an additional option to a standard travel insurance policy, where available.

Many travellers to Europe, where many areas offer great Winter sports terrain, assume that an EHIC (a European Health Insurance) card will suffice in lieu of comprehensive travel insurance. This is potentially inadequate, as an EHIC only offers the same medical state-provided healthcare as a resident of the country you’re visiting. This means that you could still be facing further medical and ambulance bills, and an EHIC would certainly not cover repatriation back to the UK.

In relation to our travel insurance policies, it is possible to purchase additional Activity Packs to cover Winter sports activities – the cost is added to the cost of our standard policies. If you opt for an Economy 500 or First Class policy – you should choose Activity Pack 3 when buying the policy (if you are skiing) and if you’re buying the Longstay or Backpacker policy, then it would be Activity Pack 2. Certain activities such as off piste skking are covered under higher activity packs.  We list a variety of Winter sports (and the Activity packs that they are listed under) here. It is worth noting that all of the other activities listed in your chosen pack (as well as the preceding ones) are then covered after you buy one of them. Also, even if you’re only going to be partaking in Winter sports for part of your holiday, not every day, you still need to take the cover out.

So, if you’re jetting off for a Winter Sports holiday, ensure peace of mind by arranging suitable cover before you depart and contact us if you have any queries regarding this.

And it’s all downhill from there!

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