Winter Sports Insurance Guide
Image source: Matthew Kane
We all hope that a trip to the hospital is something that won't happen to us on a ski holiday but unfortunately accidents do happen. Having the correct insurance makes sure that any medical bills incurred or unforeseen helicopter lifts off the mountain you need are covered.
But working out which insurance policy is the appropriate one for the winter activities you are going to be doing can be a time consuming and laborious task. We've perused the policies, pored through the small print and quizzed customer service teams to come up with what is hopefully a clear, simple and independent guide.
Best Insurance for Ski and Snowboard
- Value for money – Sportscover Direct
- Just piste - Truetraveller
- Backcountry - Snowcard
- Touring - Snowcard
- Heli-skiing - Sportscover Direct
- Freestyle - Snowcard
- Amateur ski or snowboard racing - Sportscover Direct
- Over 70 – Sportscover Direct
Best Insurance for Mountaineering
- Under 5000m – BMC
- Over 5000m - BMC
- Without Guide - BMC
What's brilliant about Sportscover Direct is that they insure you for extreme winter sports including competition at amateur or semi-professional level (earning less than £5,000 per year from your sport). If you already have insurance and it excludes certain sports you can add them to your existing policy through Sportscover Direct.
Offering excellent customer service with sensibly priced skiing and snowboarding policies; Truetraveller is a reputable and reliable insurer.
With flexibility and easily customisable policies, Snowcard's straight-forward platform guides you to the specific cover you want. One of the many useful features is that you can set the specific amount you want to be covered for.
As well as mountaineering BMC provide expert insurance for on and off-piste skiing and snowboarding. Where they excel is their mountaineering cover; providing insurance for expeditions up to Everest height and in remote locations around the world. Please note that you must be a member of the BMC to apply for their insurance.
Providing coverage for a whole range of specialised winter sports, Dogtag are a lot more than a gimmicky way to store your emergency details. Their four-tier system lets you select the activities you are planning on doing before showing you which plan suit your needs.
Bank account travel insurance policies
Lots of bank accounts offer free travel insurance if you deposit a certain amount each month. These policies may be great for a weekend city break, but they are often lacking in medical care for winter sports. You may be able to upgrade your policy to cover skiing etc. although this can be expensive and only cover on-piste activities.
Single trip or annual policy?
Almost all insurers offer single or annual policies with prices varying accordingly. Most annual policies insure you for winter sports over a designated period i.e. 4 weeks out of the year and then offer a more basic coverage for the rest of the year. This type of policy is great if you intend on skiing for a week or two but also plan to go abroad again within the year.
Single trip policies are often expensive and more time consuming to arrange - they offer a high level of cover for a single week. But if you already have travel insurance with a bank account or have not planned your holidays for the next year they can be the best choice.
Age of participant
It is worth noting that polices tend to have age restrictions on them which can vary greatly from one provider to another. Your insurer should notify you of this when booking but if not you can always ring them for further information.
Previously known as the E111 card the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) entitles you to certain health care if you are admitted to a public hospital in an EU country. The level of treatment you will receive for free depends on the UK's specific agreement with that country, so you shouldn't expect everything to be covered.
What it doesn't cover you for is extra costs such as a blood wagon off the mountain, transport to the hospital and any costs to get back to the UK. If a helicopter is required, this can easily run into thousands of pounds.
About the Author:
Pete Fletcher - Outdoor Expert
Pete grew up hiking most of the trails in the Lake District before being introduced to skiing. A decade later and you're most likely to find him snowboarding, skateboarding or making a mean coffee.