Do you know what activities are covered by your winter sports insurance?

winter sports insuranceIt’s often said that with age comes wisdom, but it isn’t always the case. A recent report has highlighted which age groups are most and least likely to check that their winter sports insurance is up to the job; and it makes for interesting reading.

Contrary to popular wisdom the oldest group of winter sports enthusiasts were least likely to check they were covered for their planned activities with 38% of those aged over 55 years failing to check their policy details. In complete contrast the youngest travellers were the most conscientious with just 14% of those aged under 25 years failing to check exactly which activities were covered.

The findings are important because winter sports are becoming increasingly popular and the Association of British Travel Agents estimates that 1.75 million Brits will jet-off to the slopes this winter. The number of ‘silver skiers’ doubled last year (to 250,000) and with the Winter Olympics in February the increased demand looks set to continue.

Winter sports insurance policies vary between providers and while most cover skiing and snowboarding, there’s little agreement over which additional activities are automatically included. Calculating insurance premiums is all about calculating risk, and because underwriters gauge risk differently; it’s essential to read the small print. Remember that just because you feel safe sledging or snowshoeing; it doesn’t mean you’ll be automatically insured.

Ten Tips for Staying Safe on the Slopes

Stay on track With the promise of fresh powder it’s easy to see why seasoned skiers and snowboarders are lured off-piste, but with increased adrenaline comes increased risk. It’s worth noting that most winter sports policies won’t automatically cover off-piste activities (although it’s easily added) so check the small print before leaving the main slopes.

Check the forecast The weather in the mountains can be unpredictable and the consequences of being caught-out can be fatal. Slopes shrouded in cloud mean reduced visibility; increasing the chances of a collision or much worse. Heavy snowfall may be every winter sports enthusiasts dream, but it comes with a warning and it’s essential to read the local ‘avalanche bulletin’ before hitting the slopes.

Get completely covered Winter sports insurance won’t stop accidents from happening, but it will provide a financial safety net. Remember that most policies cover commonplace activities, but you may need additional cover if you are planning anything out of the ordinary, so take a few minutes to read the small print before jetting-off.

Pack your paperwork If you are heading to the continent it’s essential to make sure that your EHIC is up-to-date. The European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) allows cardholders to access emergency state healthcare across Europe for free or at a reduced cost. It’s designed to complement rather than replace travel insurance and most providers insist policyholders carry an EHIC as a condition of cover. The EHIC is free (so there’s really no excuse) and valid for five years.

Taking a tumble Spend time on the slopes and the chances are that you’ll spend some of it on your backside. While there isn’t necessarily a right way to fall over there’s certainly a wrong way. If things are getting out of control the trick is to relax and give-in to the inevitable while using your body to spread the impact. Tensing-up and trying to stay upright can cause more problems and never use your arms to break your fall as that’s how limbs get broken (and collarbones).

Keep your head Helmets are becoming increasingly common on the slopes and some insurance providers insist you wear one. Make sure you choose a helmet that meets the recognised European safety standard (CE EN 1077) and for added protection look for a helmet with Multi-Directional Impact Protection.  

Keep sessions short You’re on holiday so be kind to yourself and take plenty of breaks. Mountain air and adrenaline can mask the fact that your muscles are getting fatigued and that’s when accidents happen.

Fitness and flexibility Getting physically fit before your winter break will be well rewarded on the slopes. Not only will you have more staying power, but you’re less likely to suffer an injury. Start every day with a gentle warm-up and don’t forget to stretch at the end of the day.

Know your limits Skiing and snowboarding are all about raising your heartrate and testing your boundaries, so challenge yourself but make sure you are always in control.

Easy après ski Alcohol, altitude and snow don’t mix and going overboard on the slopes can be disastrous. The day after the night before means impaired judgement and sluggish reactions and insurers are well within their rights to reject claims where alcohol is involved.

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