How to stay safe when skiing and snowboarding
Whether you are skiing or snowboarding, they are sports that come with some risks, but there are several ways that you can prepare for potential dangers before stepping onto the snow. It can be quite a physically demanding activity, and it is important that you are prepared for the challenges of the slopes. Doing stretches and warming up your body before you head to the slopes is essential to ensure you don’t injure yourself early into the day.
The FIS (International Ski Federation) has rules of conduct that you should follow when you are out on the snow. The guidance includes having respect for others and the signs and markings that help instruct you on where to go and what to do.
Skiers and boarders should also ensure they leave enough space when overtaking on the slopes, while choosing the best route is also important. The FIS also advises against stopping on a slope in a narrow place or somewhere that has restricted visibility, unless it is absolutely necessary.
When it comes to accidents not involving you, all skiers and snowboarders are still duty bound to assist. When you are involved in an accident, you should exchange names and addresses with the other people involved.
If you are skiing or snowboarding for the first time, then you should get suitable training and use beginner pistes that suit your ability level. Pistes are labelled with different colours to indicate the difficulty of the route with green representing the easiest. It is then followed by blue and red, with black highlighting the most challenging routes. While you are at the resort you should also keep an eye on the weather forecast and check for reports of potential avalanche risks.
When it comes to protecting yourself on holiday, the EHIC currently entitles you to receive the same level of medical treatment as locals when travelling in Europe, which can mean free or reduced-cost healthcare. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office advises that you should get travel insurance to protect them from other potential costs, particularly when skiing, snowboarding or taking part in other winter sports. The Columbus Direct winter sports cover means that you can be protected for medical treatment while on the slopes, including helicopter rescue and treatment following an accident.
It is also useful to carry a rucksack with essential items like water and sun cream, as the higher altitude means that the sun is stronger, and you are more likely to be affected. It is also beneficial to wear goggles or sunglasses with UV protection so that your eyes are protected from the sunlight.
Be careful if planning to drink alcohol before stepping onto the snow as the higher altitude means that you can be affected quicker than you normally would. It could affect your reaction times and your co-ordination, which could lead to you injuring yourself and other people. Accidents caused by being under the influence of alcohol could mean that your travel insurance doesn’t cover costs if you injure yourself, or someone else on the slopes.
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*The cheapest policy including our winter sports cover is £3.74 (this is based on a per-day price for 1 adult aged 30 with no existing medical conditions, travelling within Europe for two days). Prices correct on the 20/02/2020.
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Ski Insurance FAQ
If you’re wondering what travel insurance you need for your ski trip and what our winter sports policy includes, then here is everything that you need to know.
What is ski insurance?
Ski insurance is part of the optional Winter Sports add-on that you can include in your travel insurance policy. It is suitable for travellers who plan to go skiing or snowboarding during their trip.
It ensures that you are covered for various aspects of your holiday beyond the usual cover that is included in our standard policies. This can include injuries and health problems while out in the snow, as well as protection for your equipment and piste closures.
The Winter Sports add-on also includes cover for other snow activities, including sledging, air boarding, snow tubing and mono-skiing.
Why do I need travel insurance for winter sports?
Standard travel insurance policies don’t provide cover for many winter activities, which means that skiing and snowboarding aren’t included. You are unlikely to have protection if you plan to hit the slopes during your trip, unless you add winter sports cover to your policy.
If you are planning to go skiing or do any of the other included activities, then it is better for you to add it to your travel insurance to ensure that you are protected. You should check before buying your policy that your preferred sports are included in your cover.
Columbus Direct also has 150 sports and activities that are covered for free in all standard policies, including horse riding, zip lining and sleigh riding (passenger only).
Does ski insurance cover helicopter rescue?
If a helicopter ambulance is needed, this is included as part of the Winter Sports insurance add-on and ensures that you have cover for costs if you need to be taken off the side of a mountain if you get injured while skiing or snowboarding.
Does ski insurance cover mountain rescue?
Search and Rescue is another optional extra that can be added to your policy if you are getting the Winter Sports add-on. It provides £10,000 cover for the costs that might be charged by the government, a regulated authority or a private organisation if you get lost and require their service to locate and rescue you.
Is off-piste cover included?
Cover for off-piste skiing is included in the winter sports add-on, but your claims are only valid if you are travelling within resort boundaries or with a qualified guide.
The risks of being off-piste are usually greater, and the thicker snow can take some time to get used to. You should make sure that you take suitable equipment with you when you are planning to ski off-piste, including a first aid kit, piste map, compass, collapsible shovel and ideally a mobile phone to ensure that you can reach out to others if you are exploring alone. It is also important that you check the weather conditions for the day before you set out and stay aware of potential avalanche threats.
Is ski equipment protected?
If you get the Winter Sports add-on then your own equipment or hired equipment will be protected if it is lost, stolen or damaged during your holiday. The amount that you can claim depends on the value of the cover provided and the age of your ski or snowboarding equipment.
The policy can also help with costs of hiring replacement equipment for the rest of your trip or until your previous equipment is returned if it is delayed for more than 12 hours after you arrive.
Can I get ski cover with pre-existing medical conditions?
If you have a pre-existing medical condition, then you would need to declare it when getting travel insurance. This is also the case when you are including winter sports in your policy. Cover may be subject to an additional premium being paid.
A pre-existing medical condition is any illness or medical condition that has required medication tablets, treatment, surgery, reviews, check-ups, or other investigations in the 12 months prior to getting your policy.
You can still get ski insurance if you have medical conditions, unless our medical screening determines that we are unable to provide you with cover.
Is ski cover available for over 65’s and over 70’s?
Single trip travel insurance policies are available to travellers up to the age of 85, while annual multi-trip cover can be bought up to the age of 74.
This includes the option of adding ski insurance to your policy, which means that you can travel with family and friends, safe in the knowledge that you are protected if something unexpected happens during your trip.
What is included in our winter sports insurance?
The winter sports add-on provides cover for various aspects of your skiing holiday. This includes medical assistance if you are injured while you are out in the snow, including the cost of being airlifted from the mountain. Further cover can be added to provide protection for search and rescue.
Travellers also have cover for their equipment if it is lost, stolen or damaged during their trip. This also includes hiring replacement equipment for the rest of your trip or until your original equipment is returned.
Avalanche cover is also included in the policy, which covers reasonable additional travel and accommodation expenses if your transfer from your result is delayed because of an avalanche.
Your ski lift pass is also protected if it is lost or stolen, or if you are certified by a medical practitioner as being unable to use the facilities at your resort because of an illness or injury. This also includes unused portion of your ski school and equipment hire costs if you are no longer able to use them.
Protection for piste closures means that you can get compensation if pistes in your resort are closed because of a lack of snow or adverse weather conditions.
You will also be able to receive some cover for physiotherapy costs in your country of residence if you suffer an accidental injury during your trip that is the result of an insured accident.
Does EHIC cover skiing?
The EHIC (European Health Insurance Card) does not provide cover for private medical healthcare or costs, while it also doesn’t include mountain rescue in ski resorts or costs if you need assistance in getting back to the UK.
It usually covers medically necessary state-provided healthcare which you can get for a reduced cost or for free, but it isn’t a suitable alternative for ski insurance.
The EHIC is valid for UK citizens until the 31st December 2020 when travelling within the EU, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland.
Do you need winter sports insurance for holidays to Lapland?
You only need to add winter sports to your policy if you intend to take part in activities that aren’t included in standard travel insurance.
Having it in place means that you can enjoy things like snow tubing, ski touring and snow shoeing while you are visiting the region.
Do Columbus Direct policies include ski pack cover?
Ski pack cover is included when adding winter sports cover to the policy. This means that you have protection for the costs of unused portions of your ski school, lift pass and winter sports equipment hire, if you are certified by a medical practitioner at your resort as being unable to use the facilities because of a serious injury or illness that occurs during your trip.
Is anything excluded?
Travel insurance isn’t designed to cover everything so not all circumstances will be covered and there could be some restrictions that may prevent you from making a claim on your travel insurance. This could be because of the circumstances of the claim or the general exclusions that are included in our policies.
For winter sports insurance, these exclusions include being unable to claim for theft of your ski equipment if it isn’t report to the police within 48 hours and you don’t get a written police report. You also can’t claim for piste closures if you have not obtained confirmation of the resort closure or if not all the facilities are totally closed.
You can check the full restrictions and exclusions for making claims by looking through our travel insurance policy documentation.
Have more questions about our travel insurance policies? You can refer to our Travel Insurance FAQs to find more answers to your queries.
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