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Don’t have a winter sports wipeout – be insured!

Don’t have a winter sports wipeout – be insured!

Category: Travel insurance

Updated: 02/12/2016
First Published: 02/12/2016

This article was correct at the time of publication. It is now over 6 months old so the content may be out of date.

Ski season is ramping up, and powder-hungry Brits across the nation are gearing up for a winter sports holiday in the weeks and months ahead. But are you prepared? You may have the gear, the skills and the longing for snow, but if you're not properly insured, you could be leaving yourself open to a true winter wipeout.

Unfortunately, specialist travel insurance doesn't seem to be at the top of many peoples' priorities, with research from ABTA and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) showing that 33% of snow lovers never check whether they've taken out appropriate insurance for their chosen activities, including skiing and snowboarding.

Perhaps surprisingly, those most likely to travel without the appropriate cover were in the over-55 age bracket, with 46% admitting that they never check if they're covered for winter sports, well above the overall average.

Think you won't need it? It could be an expensive risk: there have been 58 British deaths and 118 hospitalisations from skiing and snowboarding holidays reported to the FCO in European resorts in the last four years, with thousands more suffering injuries both on and off-piste. It's never nice to think about, but accidents can happen, which can lead to costly medical bills without the right insurance.

The FCO is hoping to raise the importance of being prepared, and so has teamed up with ABTA as well as former British Winter Olympian Graham Bell to help those looking to hit the slopes this winter.

"As the ski season gets under way, we want to ensure that everyone is adequately prepared for their winter sports holiday," said Michael Vibert, head of Consular Communications at the FCO. "The research from ABTA suggests that not enough British Nationals are checking they have taken out appropriate insurance … We want to emphasise the importance of taking responsibility and preparing for your trip so you can #SkiSafe this winter and enjoy your time on the slopes."

Stay safe

To help everyone stay safe and enjoy their time on the slopes this winter, Graham Bell has shared his top tips for a safe ski trip:

· Make sure your insurance policy covers all the winter sports activities you're planning to do, and remember to take your EHIC for any treatment at public hospitals in Europe.

· Get fit for the slopes by doing ski-specific exercises, as well as improving your balance and co-ordination.

· If you're a first-time skier, pick a resort that's suitable and will help you to progress (look for blue runs and a beginners' area).

· Use the right equipment, including a properly fitting helmet.

· When you're on the slopes, make sure you are using appropriate safety equipment, and familiarise yourself with the International Ski Federation guidelines.

· Don't forget the sunscreen! You can burn in the mountains even in winter because of the reflection from the snow.

· Make sure you've got appropriate footwear for use off the slopes, or get a pair of rubber snow grips to put over your shoes.

· Alcohol and winter sports don't mix. The effects of alcohol are multiplied at altitude, so save it for the après-ski.

· If you're heading out in the evening, make sure to stick together with friends and family. Temperatures can drop dramatically at night, so you don't want to get lost.

Above all, make sure to pack specialist insurance – and compare the options to make sure you're getting the right cover at the right price. "Winter sports holidays often include activities that may not be covered by the usual insurance policies, so we would advise holidaymakers to check that they are covered for everything they plan to do," said Mark Tanzer, ABTA chief executive. "Having appropriate insurance means people can rest assured that they are adequately covered and can make the most of their time on the slopes."

Disclaimer: Information is correct as of the date of publication (shown at the top of this article). Any products featured may be withdrawn by their provider or changed at any time.