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, in 2020 over 6 million Brits enjoyed 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, when you might need it and how to compare ski insurance quotes.
'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.
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 may be 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.
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:
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.
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:
As a further golden rule, if there's something you need to be covered for, but you can't find it when you search the policy features and documentation, always ask the insurer to make sure. If it is covered, ask them to send over the documentation that specifies this and keep it safe for your records.
If you have a valid European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) you can use this to gain access to the same level of healthcare as the country's locals receive in an EU country. Bear in mind, not every European country has a service like our NHS with many reliant on private clinics, so the treatment you receive won't always be free.
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.
Can I use my EHIC now the UK has left the EU?
Following the UK's departure from the European Union, the EHIC is being phased out and replaced by a new UK Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC).
Your current EHIC remains valid for travel in the EU until it expires. You can find the expiry date on the front of your card. Once your EHIC expiry date has passed, you'll be able to replace it with the new GHIC.
Just like the EHIC, the new GHIC is free, available via the NHS website , and gives you the right to access state-provided medical care during a temporary stay in the EU. You do not need to apply for a GHIC if you already have a valid EHIC.
The EHIC or GHIC 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. Neither will 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 EHIC or GHIC and a suitable winter sports travel insurance policy.
It's also important to know that unlike the old EHIC, which provided cover for some non-EU countries such as Norway, Iceland, Switzerland and Lichtenstein, from the 1st January 2021, both the EHIC and GHIC are only valid in EU member countries.
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.
The best way to find a ski insurance policy 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.
On the 1st January 2021, the UK completed its formal separation from the European Union. There are now some changes you should consider before you travel to the EU.
Before the UK's departure from the EU, British citizens could use their European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) to gain access to state-provided healthcare in EU member countries. This EHIC remains valid for travel in the EU until it expires. You can find the expiry date on the front of your card.
Once your EHIC expiry date has passed, you'll be able to replace it with a new Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC).
Just like the EHIC, the new GHIC is free and gives you the right to access state-provided medical care during a temporary stay in the EU. You do not need to apply for a GHIC if you already have a valid EHIC.
Remember a GHIC or EHIC is not an alternative to travel insurance.
It will not cover any private medical costs or help towards costs for emergencies such as mountain rescue in ski resorts, being flown back to the UK, or lost or stolen property. The EHIC or GHIC is also not valid for travel on cruise ships.
It's also important to note that unlike the old EHIC which was valid for travel in the EU, extending to non-EU counties Norway, Iceland, Lichtenstein and Switzerland, from the 1st January 2021, both the EHIC and GHIC are only valid for travel to EU member countries.
To find out more about visiting Europe from this date, the government has published a range of guidance and notes