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Is your travel cover up to scratch or taking the piste?

12 January 2017

Gocompare.com Travel Insurance urges winter sports enthusiasts to check their policy details before they hit the slopes

  • Just 15% of annual and 4% of single trip travel insurance policies offer winter sports cover as standard.
  • Off-piste skiing comes with special restrictions on almost three quarters (70%) of annual policies and 12% offer no cover at all.
  • Almost a fifth of both annual and single trip travel insurance policies offer equipment cover to the value of £1,000 or more.

With the ski season well underway, research from Gocompare.com Travel Insurance has revealed many could be left without cover if they slope off without checking their policy.

The comparison site found that the vast majority of policies do not cover skiing or snowboarding as standard.  Most (83%) single trip travel insurance policies only offer winter sports cover as an optional extra, for which an additional fee is payable, with 13% excluding this cover entirely.

It’s particularly important for those with annual multi-trip policies to review their policy documents as just 15% of these policies offer ski cover as standard, with nearly one in 10 (9%) offering no cover whatsoever. Annual multi-trip cover can be purchased separately, but is also often included as part of a packaged current account.

Equipment cover

Ski equipment can be expensive, so if you’ve recently splashed out on some new kit you may want to check whether it’s adequately covered. Just 19% of single trip, and 20% of annual policies offer cover levels of £1,000 or more.

When it comes to rented equipment, the level of cover tends to me significantly less. Just over half (55%) of travel insurance policies offer less than £500 of cover for rented ski equipment. Whether you own or hire your equipment, insurers will expect you to take reasonable care of it and report any losses to the police.

Off-piste

While most winter sports policies (87%) will allow you to ski off-piste, the majority – 70% of annual and 42% of single trip policies - come with certain conditions such as being accompanied by a qualified guide and skiing only on recognised paths.

More adventurous activities, such as dog-sledding or snowmobiling are also unlikely to be covered as standard on your policy, so be sure to check you’re covered before taking part in these sorts of activities.

Piste closure

The weather can be unpredictable, as many of us are far too aware. High winds, a lack of or even an excess of snow can result in piste closures. Luckily, most winter sports policies do offer compensation if you are unable to ski.

Cover levels vary but over a third of both single trip (37%) and annual (42%) policies offer upwards of £300. However, you need to check the policy wording against your date of travel.  Some policies only provide cover between specific dates e.g. 15 November to 15 April or 1 December to 30 April.

Alcohol exclusion

While many people enjoy a mid-afternoon tipple when on holiday, it’s worth keeping in mind that alcohol and winter sports don’t mix. Should you have an accident – and a doctor determine that alcohol was a factor -  it’s likely that your claim will be declined.

Most insurers will refuse a medical claim if they deem that you were under the influence of drugs or alcohol, so play it safe and save the drinking for the après-ski.

Alex Edwards, travel insurance spokesperson at Gocompare.com, said: “When it comes to travel insurance for winter sports, the devil is in the details. And while cover levels vary wildly, so to can the terms and conditions.

“To avoid invalidating your insurance take some time to check such details as what sporting activities you can and can’t do, whether you need to wear a helmet when skiing, and whether participation in professional or competitive events is allowed.

“Seasoned skiers and snow boarders may wish to take their own equipment rather than use rental gear. With the cost of winter sporting goods running into the hundreds or even thousands of pounds, make sure that your policy will cover the cost of your clobber should it be lost or stolen.

“With so many variables to consider it’s even more important that you look at the level of protection provided by your policy, so don’t just buy the cheapest one.  Look carefully at the small print and make sure the policy you buy adequately covers the holiday you’ve booked and the activities you want to do.”

For more information on ski and winter sport insurance see Gocompare.com's dedicated guide.

- ENDS -

Notes to editors:

* Defaqto Matrix of 866 single trip travel insurance policies, of which 753 provide cover for winter sports (37 as standard, 716 as an optional extra) (29 December 2016), and 883 Annual travel insurance policies, of which 800 provide cover for winter sports (134 as standard, 666 as an optional extra) (29 December 2016), - instant and unbiased market and competitor intelligence, from independent financial researcher Defaqto. Percentages are rounded up to the nearest whole number.