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National Law Firm Irwin Mitchell on Skiing Holiday Insurance

Skiing holiday insurance


25% of travellers still leave home without any travel insurance.

Most people take between one and three holidays per year and one in ten will take four to five holidays per year*, with so much spent on holidays it is now more important than ever to have travel insurance that provides you with adequate cover for the whole of your trip, warns national law firm Irwin Mitchell.

Skiing and snowboarding are among the most popular holiday choices of the British public, although they are still generally perceived as quite dangerous, with over two million people heading for the mountains again this year - particularly in winter time. There is also the risk of avalanches. Although major Avalanches are comparatively rare, they can have catastrophic consequences for those caught by them. Great care should be taken to heed avalanche warnings in resort and to avoid taking actions which may cause avalanches and endanger others. Recent research revealed that 90%** of all avalanches are caused by skiers or other people on the slopes, and many of these could have been avoided by following local resort guidance and using common sense while skiing.

Demetrius Danas, travel litigation specialist at national law firm Irwin Mitchell warns, "These winter holidays have the potential to be extremely dangerous and there is an increasing need to ensure that you have adequate insurance cover. For example, receiving treatment in Switzerland for a broken leg and being brought home can cost as much as £25,000. If the accident occurs in the United States and you are again brought home, the cost could be up to £70,000. As a law firm we deal with claims like these all the time - so it is important that holiday goers are adequately prepared."

An astonishing 25% of travellers still leave home without any travel insurance according to the British Insurance Brokers Association.

Skiing holiday insurance policies

General travel insurance policies often offer winter sports cover as an optional extra. However, winter sports cover is also offered as a separate product and this can be ideal for skiing and snowboarding enthusiasts.

Demetrius Danas adds, "What is important is that the insurance covers all of the activities you are likely to engage in. For example, for the more adventurous, many insurance companies also offer cover that incorporates activities such as bobsleigh, ice hockey and tobogganing."

"Most importantly, you should ensure that you have good cover for any medical expenses that will be incurred if you are involved in an accident and injure yourself."

It will also be important to consider whether skiers would like to have insurance cover for the costs of Search and Rescue, especially if they are planning to go off piste.

Demetrius Danas added, "'Dangerous' activity or 'hazardous' activity is generally defined in the definitions section of the travel insurance policy. If the activity that you are planning (eg, canyoning, or white water rafting, outdoor rock climbing etc) is excluded from cover, it will be important for you to buy a specifically tailor made insurance policy that will provide cover for you."

If you find yourself on holiday with only a general insurance policy and decide on the spur of the moment to partake in any such activity, eg bungee jumping, it is unlikely that your travel insurance policy will cover you. In those circumstances, it may be possible for you to contact your travel insurers using the telephone number given in your policy and obtain top up cover over the telephone.

The safety record of suppliers of such activities abroad varies greatly. Wherever possible, it is best to purchase your excursion/activity from the tour operator that you are on holiday with. Better still, if you are able to book your activities as part of your package holiday arrangements with your tour operator when you book your holiday, this will give you greater protection.

You should also be aware that in some countries, prior to undertaking any such dangerous activity, you may be asked to sign a disclaimer. The legality or otherwise of the disclaimer will depend upon the country that you are in. However, it is perfectly possible in some countries for providers of excursions/activities to exclude any liability to you if something goes wrong, purely as a result of you signing the disclaimer.

* Survey by Moneynews.co.uk, 9th October
**'Safety is Freedom' skiing research, October 2006.