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Esther Shaw

The common myths of ski cover


Skiers and snowboarders will be heading to the slopes this winter but make sure you have the right cover in place so you don't fall foul of policy exclusions.

Ski resort in winter

While many will think they have adequate travel insurance in place for their trip, there are a few widely-held misconceptions when it comes to winter sports policies.

We look at some of the most common myths surrounding ski insurance and how they could cost you dear.

What exactly is covered by the EHIC?

Many people mistakenly believe that if they hold a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) this entitles them to an NHS-style service abroad but this is not the case.

While one of these cards gives you access to state-provided healthcare in European Union member states, it should not be considered an adequate substitute for comprehensive travel insurance.

The EHIC will not pay for transportation costs to hospital or for repatriation back home and it does not cover long-term treatment either.

It will also not cover medical expenses if you are admitted to a private health facility.

So while it makes sense to take one, it is also essential to buy comprehensive winter sports cover aswell.

Am I covered as part of my bank account?

Many fee-charging packaged current accounts offer a range of benefits which often include travel insurance.

But a standard annual policy won’t necessarily cover skiing and snowboarding so don't assume you'll be covered for winter sports, you need to check.

If winter sports cover is not included most insurers will allow you to add this on for a fee. Make sure this includes cover for sports equipment and ski passes.

Also, check it covers your chosen holiday destination as people often buy insurance thinking they'll be covered wherever they go skiing but a Europe-only policy will not cover you in the US or Canada.

What about heli-skiing or ice-climbing?

Ski insurance often comes with a range of exclusions, especially if you’re planning on doing any so-called “adventurous activities.”

So don't assume you’re covered if you want to try heli-skiing, ice-climbing or tobogganing - you need to check.

You may also be surprised to learn that “recreational racing” may not be covered even if it is organised by your ski school.

“Most policies will detail the list of insured activities that are automatically covered within their policy wordings,” says Mike Powell from financial analyst firm Defaqto.

“If you’re considering taking part in an unusual activity you must speak to your insurer to check if you are covered.”

Many policies offer an upgrade for an additional premium to cover activities with a higher exposure to accident or injury.

The key is to check the small print for all winter sports you intend to take part in.

Am I covered for going off-piste?

Don’t assume you’re covered for skiing or boarding off-piste, as not all policies include this.

Equally, even if this cover is offered check if it applies during all hours of the day, not just daylight hours.

Also note that some policies will only cover you for going off-piste if you are with a registered guide. 

Am I covered for piste closure?

Check if your policy pays out for piste closure as not all do.

Find out if your policy will compensate you in part if the snowfall isn’t enough to keep the piste open or if strong winds mean the piste needs to be closed.

Also scour the small print as some policies specify that all pistes have to be shut for at least 12 hours, sometimes 24, before you can make a claim.

Can I have a drink while I’m on the slopes?

Tempting as it may be to enjoy a glass or two of vin chaud over lunch, if you have consumed alcohol this could affect the validity of any claim made.

“Policies often have exclusions for being under the influence of alcohol or drugs unless medically prescribed,” says Powell.

“If you are unsure about any restrictions in cover speak to your provider for clarification.”

Don’t cut corners on cover

With budgets stretched to their limits you may consider going without insurance when you head to the slopes this winter.

But cutting back on cover for your ski trip is a false economy as you could end up thousands of pounds out of pocket should you need to pay for medical treatment or repatriation.

Before setting off, ensure you have adequate cover in place for you and your friends and family as this will give you peace of mind, ensuring you can all enjoy your time away.


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