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What's more fun than hitting the slopes for a winter sports holiday? Whether you're a seasoned veteran on the mountains or just finding your snow legs, over 6 million Brits are now thought to enjoy the thrill of hurtling down a European hill on two planks.

But for those that take a skiing holiday, the importance of travel insurance is 'snow joke.' Without the proper cover in place, you could risk racking up a bill that'll make you feel chillier than the mountain air. Don't be 'sled' into thinking a standard travel insurance policy or packaged bank account policy will provide you with the right cover for your trip, or you may find it all goes downhill pretty quickly.

Read on to find out more about winter sports travel insurance, including what's covered and when you might need it.

What is Winter Sports Travel Insurance?

'Frost thing's frost,' a winter Sports travel insurance policy provides additional cover specific to the risks associated with skiing, snowboarding and other winter sports activities while you're on your ski or snowboarding holiday. This isn't limited to the medical side of things; winter sports insurance can also cover you for things you probably wouldn't consider for other holidays, such as loss of ski passes, travel delays due to an avalanche or an unforeseen yeti rampage (note - you may struggle to find cover for that last one).

Winter sports holiday insurance is usually presented as an alternative, specialist option by travel insurance providers, with cover levels, limits, exceptions and excesses that may differ from standard policies. But it's those extra features that make it more suitable for your winter sports holiday than a standard policy.

Do I Need Ski Holiday Insurance?

Typical standard travel insurance policies are highly unlikely to provide cover for skiing, snowboarding or other winter sports. If you already have an annual multi-trip travel insurance policy, you'll need to check with your insurer to see if winter sports cover is included. If not, you can either ask the insurer if there's an upgrade available or you can take out a single trip policy, making sure you specify that you need winter sports cover.

The additional risks that come with skiing mean that potential medical bills resulting from a skiing injury can leave you feeling pretty frosty. So, insurers may not cover winter sports related injuries as standard.

With a number of banks providing free travel insurance as part of their packaged account, customers may be inclined to believe that they're already covered for whatever trips abroad they wish to take, including winter sports breaks. However, this is unlikely to be the case as the cover provided is often basic, limited or restricted. If you have a packaged bank account and believe travel insurance is included, it's crucial that you check your policy carefully or contact the bank to ask whether or not winter sports cover is included. If not, you'll probably want to compare ski insurance quotes and purchase a winter sports policy.

What is Ski Travel Insurance?
Do I need Winter Sports travel insurance?

What Does Winter Sports Travel Insurance Cover?

If you're going for a week's golfing and relaxation in the Algarve, the chances of you picking up an injury are scarcer than if you were planning to go 35mph down a mountain in Chamonix. You wouldn't go down the slopes without the proper protective equipment such as a helmet, so you shouldn't ski without the right travel insurance policy either.

Winter sports travel insurance provides all of the usual benefits of a normal travel insurance policy, such as baggage cover, cancellation cover and medical expenses. However, a winter sports policy is designed to include higher cover levels for medical situations and damage to or loss of equipment.

In addition to standard travel insurance, ski insurance could also cover the following:

  • Ski equipment:
    If your skis or equipment are stolen, lost or damaged, or the same is true of hired equipment, a ski travel policy could help you cover the costs or repair or replacement. You could also be covered for equipment hire in the event that your own ski equipment goes missing or meets a delay on the outbound trip.
  • Piste closure:
    Conditions for skiing need to be just right. Too much or too little snow can lead to a piste closure, as can strong weather conditions or the threat of an avalanche, leaving you stuck in a cabin. If you're unlucky enough to miss out on the downhill thrills due to a piste closure of 24 hours or more, this could be covered by your winter sports travel insurance policy.
  • Ski passes:
    Some resorts are more forgiving than others when it comes to a lost ski pass. Many will offer a new one free of charge, others might provide a replacement with a discount, then refund what you pay if the original is handed in or shows up in your possession. However, a good ski insurance policy should cover ski pass loss, meaning you shouldn't need to chance it.
  • Personal liability:
    Skiing can be dangerous - so it goes without saying that you will need to look after yourself out there. But sometimes even the most careful and skilled of downhill daredevils have an accident involving another person that results in them becoming injured. Winter sports travel insurance can provide a level of personal liability cover if you cause someone to wipe out.
  • Skiing off-piste:
    You could even find an insurance policy that covers you for skiing off-piste. But be aware of restrictions, for instance, you might need to be with a qualified ski instructor or guide. You may even need to declare your intention to ski off-piste to the insurer before you travel.
  • Delays due to an avalanche:
    Whether it's due to an angry yeti or even angrier weather, avalanches don't just keep skiers off the slopes, sometimes they stop or delay you reaching your destination. Winter sports travel insurance can provide a level of cover for this too.

Of course, you'll need to check the policy features when you get a quote in order to determine which of the above are covered, their excess, and whether there are any limits or exclusions to be aware of. You're unlikely to find two winter sports policies the same so it's crucial to find one that suits your requirements and your budget.

What's not covered by ski insurance?

Winter sports insurance provides a whole host of additional travel insurance benefits, but only if you and your group do all you can to stay safe, in control and on the right side of your policy wording. Here's a few things to consider that could give your policy the freeze:

  • Being under the influence of alcohol:
    If you're hitting the slopes, it's a good idea to stay conservative on the Glühwein. Not only could excessive alcohol consumption make you a danger to yourself and others in an already dangerous pastime, your insurers could actually refuse a claim if they determine that you were under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
  • Failing to keep your possessions safe:
    If you leave your skis, equipment, baggage or passes unattended or fail to take due care with your belongings in a public place, a claim you make for lost or stolen items could be rejected. It's therefore crucial to ensure your belongings are never left unattended, especially in a public space.
  • Failing to use the correct safety equipment:
    Your helmet, gloves and goggles will protect you from more than just the elements. They'll also protect you from the threat of a rejected medical claim if you pick up an injury. Travel insurance providers will make it clear that for your medical cover to be valid, you'll be expected to make every reasonable effort to stay safe.
  • Specific types of skiing:
    This is one you'll need to be aware of, especially if you're planning on entering a competition, performing stunts, visiting a ski fun park or going cross-country skiing. Providers will specify in their policy wording which types of skiing are covered and any that aren't. You may be expected to purchase a bolt-on to your policy or ask the insurer if you're struggling to find cover for your type of skiing.

As a further golden rule, if there's something you need to be covered for, but you can't find it when you search policy features and documentation, always ask the insurer to make sure. If it is, ask them to send over the documentation that specifies this and keep it safe for your records.

What's not covered by Ski Travel Insurance?
Should I buy Winter Sports travel insurance?

Does the EHIC cover skiing?

The European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) is designed to provide the same level of access to public medical care as the country's locals receive if you're skiing in Europe. Not every European country has a service like our NHS with many reliant on private clinics. When you're up on the mountainside, the potential need for a rescue helicopter trip to the hospital or repatriation following care are much higher than on a summer trip to the Canary Islands and the EHIC won't cover this.

The EHIC is a wonderful addition to your passport wallet, but it's not a suitable replacement for travel insurance under any circumstances, especially for a skiing holiday. The EHIC will not provide any cover for ski equipment, private emergency medical treatment or piste closures so the best thing you can do is to arm yourself with a free European Health Insurance Card (available from the NHS) and a suitable winter sports travel insurance policy.

When should I buy winter sports travel insurance?

It's a good idea to purchase your winter sports travel cover as early as you can after booking your break - that way you can enjoy peace of mind knowing that you have the full benefit of cancellation cover right the way up to your travel dates.

If you're planning on multiple ski trips throughout the year, you might want to consider an annual multi-trip policy. It may be that this is a cheaper option for you, but it may not - just remember to specify that you require winter sports cover when you complete your quote form.

Also, don't forget that if you're travelling as part of a family or a group, it might also be more cost-effective to cover your whole travelling party under one policy, as some insurers will offer discounts for families or groups of individuals.

How can I find the best ski insurance deals?

The best way to find a ski insurance deal that suits your requirements and budget is to shop around and read the policy information carefully. At Compare Cover we make it easy for you to compare winter sports insurance quotes. When you complete our online quote form, simply choose the option to include winter sports and we'll only return quotes that provide specific cover for your skiing holiday.

Your results can then be filtered based on level of cover, Defaqto star rating and voluntary excess. You can then click on any quote to look through the policy features, then once you've found the best ski insurance policy for you, it's a case of clicking through to the insurer to buy online.

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