By Rob Thomas on 10 March 2012

Sar _infographic _642x 1106

If you suffer an injury on the slopes you may need to be airlifted to the local hospital and, in cases of serious injury, you may need to be repatriated home.

The cost of repatriation will always be at your expense, fortunately travel insurance is there to pick up this bill. Repatriation cover comes as standard with the majority of policies. If injured while skiing on recognised routes, assistance is normally close at hand. The cost of being airlifted to the local hospital can often be charged to you as well, although these would also be paid by insurers.

Search and Rescue (SAR) services are likely to be needed if you are lost or get injured while off-piste. People would be dispatched to search for you and, in some cases, you may need to be rescued. For example, you may be stuck somewhere that requires tools to free you. When it comes to search and rescue, there isn't a clear answer to "Who pays for the operation" and "The cost of this operation". The cost of SAR is highly dependent upon the type and length of operation and its location.

North America

Much of North America, specifically USA, does not charge skiers/snowboarders for search and rescue. However, there are several states in the United States that deviate from this no cost for SAR policy and are allowed to charge the rescued: (please refer to the Search and Rescue infographic).

States allowed to charge for search and rescue operations

  • Oregon
  • Utah
  • Idaho
  • Arizona
  • Colorado
  • Maine
  • Vermont
  • New Hampshire


In much of Europe, most countries require the person being rescued to pay for the Search and Rescue operation.

General costs associated with Search and Rescue*

Europe General Costs North America
£2,100 per hour Helicopter (to operate) £1,100 to £3,200 per hour (dependent upon the size of helicopter)
£2,500 Airlift to hospital £10,000 to £12,000 (dependent upon the distance)
£6,000 Repatriation £30,000
£9,000 Helicopter evacuation £2,600
£50,000 (on occasions) Air Ambulance Repatriation £49,500 (on average)

* Please note that these Search and Rescue costs are just an average approximation. The SAR costs can be highly dependent upon the type and length of the operation.

Travel Insurance Cover

With the potential cost of being airlifted to hospital or being repatriated to the UK being in the thousands it's understandable that many skiers/snowboarders travel with insurance to offset this risk. At Columbus Direct, we also believe it is important to protect yourself againt the risk of incurring Search and Rescue costs. Therefore to provide you with extra reassurance we offer Search and Rescue cover on our Winter Sports Travel Insurance for just £5 per policy for single trips or £8 for annual policies.

← Top Ski Destinations

Take care of yourself on the slopes with the Safe Skiing Code →