Hi, I'm going to Chamonix in January and I've just noticed that winter sports insurance is more expensive than a standard policy. I'm not a great skier and don't plan on trying any back flips. Why do I need special winter sports insurance, will a standard policy be sufficient for someone like me? Dorothy Wayne, Kent
Thank you for this good question. I'm going to be very cut and dry about answering this. Insurance can be a sticky topic, so I don't want to mince any facts. Let's start with the extra cost for winter sports cover, because it leads nicely into the other points.
Why Does It Cost More?
Your chances of injury during an average ski holiday are much higher than a standard trip to Paris. According to research, over 60% of skiers and snowboarders have gotten hurt on the slopes. Even if you're not going to be doing any back flips, there are still thousands of people on the slopes across Europe. We're as worried about you skiing into a tree as we are about a skier skiing into you.
In general, from an insurance point of view, it's risky to offer medical coverage to people who are going to ride down mountains (at speeds of up to 25 miles an hour) with a pair of sword-shaped sleds attached to their feet. But we do it because we know how much fun it is. While the increase in policy price might seem a bit harsh, it's quite reasonable when you consider the risks involved. A single-trip winter sports policy will only cost you (on average) £20, so it's by no means that much when you think of the benefits.
Fine print to watch out for: It's because of the high danger factor that we (and every other insurance provider with a conscience) insist our policy holders wear a helmet when skiing or snowboarding.
Take a look at this video of the Best of the Worst Ski Crashes 2012 that shows that even the pros come unstuck on the slopes.
Comprehensive Cover Across The Board
Winter sports insurance is about more than just medical cover in the event of an accident. That's certainly a large part of it, but another reason winter sports policies are more expensive than a standard policy is because it insures several, highly important aspects of your trip. We can break these down into three basic groups:
1. Your Medical Needs
Taking into account danger and the high cost of medical care, we insure you for up to £5 million in emergency medical expenses - so long as you are on-piste and wearing a helmet at the time of injury.
*If you're wanting to ski off-piste, you need to select this as an optional extra when getting your policy. For more information about off-piste cover, take a look at this article.
One of the biggest risks is crashing into something. Hitting a tree, falling into or collidng with another skier. Personal medical cover is one thing, but we also offer personal liability cover, should you be involved in an accident where you're liable for someone else getting hurt.
The slopes aren't only fun for skiing and snowboarding and we understand that, so the policy also covers you while ice-skating, tobogganing, sledding, big-foot skiing and more. For a full list of the different winter sports that you'll be covered for, have a look at our winter sports page.
2. Equipment Cover
Snowboarding gear is expensive to rent, very expensive to buy and positively crippling to break. That's why our winter sports policy covers you for the following:
- Ski equipment cover
This covers your boots, bindings, boards and more in the event of loss, theft or damage.
- Ski hire cover
As a result of accidental loss, theft of or damage to your own ski equipment you are covered for the reasonable cost of hiring replacement ski equipment.
- Piste closure
Sometimes the weather just doesn't cooperate. This covers the cost for you to be transported to another resort where the piste is open.
- Ski pack cover
Covers the unused portion of your ski pack if you get injured halfway through your trip.
These features aren't included in a standard policy, so it's another extra that makes the slightly increased cost worthwhile.
3. Travel Cover
As well as covering your health and equipment, the winter sports policy also takes care of unexpected delays, which snowy weather has been known to cause.
Travel Delay Cover is a standard feature with the winter sports policy, should any of the following cause your scheduled public transport to be delayed at your final departure point to or from the United Kingdom:
- A strike
- Industrial action
- Adverse weather conditions - out of the ordinary for the area
- Mechanical breakdown or a technical fault
In a nutshell, it's a policy with a big job. I hope you've found this informative. Please feel free to drop us a line any time or comment below for more answers!