For those who love to ski, snowboard or simply roll around in soft, powdery snow, a holiday in a ski resort is the ultimate way to chill out, literally. Given the unpredictability of winter’s whitest arrivals anywhere in the world, especially with global warming showing its effects in both hemispheres, there’s always a risk that snow could be thin on the ground at the resort you booked. Thankfully, with the right travel insurance, skiing trips that don’t provide the opportunity to ski don’t have to cost you big bucks. Even when you venture overseas to the likes of Whistler, Vermont or Klosters, you’re absolutely mad if you don’t invest in skiing travel insurance.
Take, for instance, the case of the December 2015 European ski season. A lack of snow resulted in many resorts failing to open on time to receive guests, leaving those that were open (at higher altitudes) to deal with a higher than usual number of accidents due to overcrowding.
Many insurers provide cover for weather-related delays and cancellations, but be sure to read the terms and conditions carefully and make sure you choose the cover that you really feel best suits your requirements.
And then there are the more physically painful situations.
Assume you’ll be insured on a ski trip
(And be grateful if you get off scot-free!)
The American College of Sports Medicine put together a report outlining skiing injuries that typically occur.
- Falls account for around 75 to 85 percent of skiing injuries.
- Collisions with objects – including other skiers – make up around 11 to 20 percent.
- Injuries involving ski lifts account for the remaining 2 to 9 percent.
- The injuries are usually sprains, fractures, lacerations and dislocations, all of which sound incredibly unpleasant!
Remember, it doesn’t matter if you’re an old hand on the slopes or a fresh-faced beginner, injuries happen and they can be extremely expensive, depending on the severity and your location. Your skiing travel insurance can at least help ease the pain of the medical bills.
Did you know that if you injure your thumb badly on a ski trip, you could suffer long term? How’s that skiing travel insurance sounding now? The report states that the thumb is the most vulnerable joint in the upper body. When a skier falls on his or her outstretched arm while still gripping the pole, their thumb can be abruptly pulled outward, resulting in a profound injury to the joint.
Famous people who have suffered serious or fatal injuries while skiing
It’s unpleasant, for sure. But the fact is, people do suffer critical, life-changing – and life-ending injuries on ski trips.
- Former U.S. Congressman and ex-husband of singer Cher, Sonny Bono died at a Nevada ski resort in 1998 at age 63 when he accidentally hit a tree.
- Michel Trudeau, the youngest son of former Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau died aged 23 in 1998 when he was buried under an avalanche in Kokoanee Glacier Provincial Park.
- Four-time Winter X Games gold medallist, Canadian freestyle skier, Sarah Burke died while training on a superpipe in Park City, Utah, USA.
- German Formula One legend Michael Schumacher fell and his head hit some rocks while he was skiing in an off-piste area of the Meribel resort in the French alps. He is now rehabilitating at his home but is confined to a wheelchair and is unable to speak.
- Even The Terminator himself, Arnold Schwarzenegger had a pretty decent fall on the slopes and tripped over one of the ski poles he was using. Just before Christmas 2006, while serving as Governor of California, he broke his right leg on a ski trip in Idaho and had to undergo surgery.
Whether or not the abovementioned people had skiing travel insurance is irrelevant. The fact is, accidents happen to the rich and famous as much as they happen to John Smith and Mary Jones. No one is immune. The only guarantee you have is that if you don’t purchase travel insurance, skiing could be your financial undoing as well as your bone-breaker!
Snow Pack insurance
If you own your own snow sport equipment and take it with you on your travels, then look for an insurer that offers a ‘Snow Pack’. You’ll be covered for theft, loss or damage of your equipment if you purchase this option. Typically, a Snow Pack offers extra cover for an array of losses such as (but not necessarily all):
- Closure of resort due to bad weather or avalanche
- Delayed ski equipment
- Emergency evacuation from the ski fields
- Unused ski lessons or lift passes
- Additional cover for winter sports that are usually not included in travel insurance plans
- Snow sport overseas emergency medical assistance and hospital expenses
If you require skiing travel insurance for cross country skiing, you’ll need to research a little further as fewer insurers offer this.
What is not covered?
When you purchase travel insurance for ski trips, you should check what is not covered as closely as what is covered, as various insurers offer different policies. That’s why some seem cheap and cheerful while others seem extra costly. Some policies won’t offer cover if the travel doesn’t occur in the designated recreational ski season. That is, of course, unless early (or late) snow arrives and the resorts are open for skiing.
As with all policies, none will cover you for losses that arise from behaviour while intoxicated or under the influence of drugs. You may also not be covered if you ski out of bounds, off groomed slopes, off piste or back country.
The benefits of regular travel insurance may or may not be included
You can still be covered for such problems as lost luggage, cancelled flights, theft of cash, rental car excess waiver, replacement of passport and other documents, personal liability and the other usual inclusions in a travel insurance policy. This is where your due diligence comes into play. Some insurers require you to take out two separate policies – regular travel insurance and skiing travel insurance – and for some people, the ability to choose is welcome. Others may require you to purchase an add-on snow or ski pack in order to get cover for snow sport related issues. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to call and speak with an operator.
Whatever you do, stay safe and warm out there!