A beginner’s guide to ski insurance – how to buy the right policy to make sure you’re covered

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If you’re going skiing, your ski insurance should cover you for medical bills, piste closure, off-piste skiing and should include generous ski equipment cover. Make sure your policy is up to scratch.

A beginner’s guide to ski insurance

The main reason for taking out ski insurance is to get medical cover if you have an accident. As a minimum you should have £2 million cover if you’re travelling in the European Union. You’ll need more medical cover if you’re buying a family policy. You will need at least £10 million of medical cover if you’re travelling outside the EU.

You should also look out for the following features:

  • Piste closure: Not all ski insurance policies offer this cover or if they do, they may charge an extra premium. But it’s useful if the pistes are closed because of high winds, the risk of avalanche etc. Some ski insurance policies only pay out when the resort it closed, not when the pistes are closed. Some policies have quite a low limit, others are more generous. Check whether a payout is triggered if the piste is closed for any reason or only due to avalanche risk.

SAVVY TIP: Look out for transport cover. If the pistes nearest to you are closed but another resort several miles away is open, find out whether or not your ski insurance policy will reimburse taxi costs. Some will, up to a limit of £30 or so a day.

  • Repatriation costs. Ski insurance policies that cover winter sports should automatically include cover for the cost of transport to a hospital. You should also check whether the ski insurance policy would pay for you to be flown back to the UK if you needed further treatment. This is vital. Don’t opt for a ski insurance policy that doesn’t include a generous amount of cover.
  • Off-piste skiing. Some ski insurance policies cover off-piste skiing as long as you’re in areas considered safe by the resort management, but others don’t cover off-piste skiing at all. Check whether the ski insurance policy specifies that you have a guide with you as this may cause a problem if you’re skiing with friends but without a professional guide.
  • Levels of equipment cover. Check levels of ski cover if you have top of the range equipment and find out what the limits are for hired skis. Some ski insurance will only cover £250 worth of equipment, while other policies cover as much as £1,500.
  • Personal liability. It’s not just your own safety you have to worry about. There have been an increasing number of claims from people who’ve been injured by other skiers. Check how much you’d be covered for if you caused an accident.
  • The excess levels. Most ski insurance policies will not pay out the first part of a claim (the excess), but excess levels can vary from £35 to as much as £150. That’s because many policies have different excess levels depending on the part Most will cap the excess to a maximum, but it’s worth checking the individual excess levels as well. If you only claim on one part of your policy, you may pay a smaller excess.

SAVVY TIP: If you’re skiing with your family and have taken out one joint policy, find out if there’s an upper limit on how many excesses you have to pay should you all need to make a claim.

  • Claims and alcohol. Ski insurance policies don’t generally pay out for claims that result from you drinking. That means if you have a fall and a doctor reckons that alcohol was a contributing factor, your policy may be invalid. Be aware that some policies stipulate how much alcohol you are able to drink and still make a valid claim, while others only state that they won’t pay out if you drank so much alcohol that it was a factor in your claim.
  • Family policies. Family ski insurance policies cover children, but it’s worth checking the upper age limit. While many have an age limit of 18, some cover ‘children’ aged up to 23 as long as they are in full time education.

SAVVY TIP: Check what the rules are around partners. Some policies will only cover partners that you’ve lived with for six months or more (although I’m not entirely sure what proof they’d want…).

Will your claim be paid?

What you really want to know when you take out insurance is how quick the company is when it comes to settling claims and whether your claim would be paid. It may not be that easy to find out this information, but a few well-chosen questions should give you a clue.

  • Ask the insurer what documents they would want you to submit, whether you have to contact them before you spend any money and how they calculate the excess. The cost of documents such as doctor’s certificates can add up; especially if your claim is relatively small.

SAVVY TIP: Some companies insist you contact them if your claim will cost more than a few hundred pounds (often £500), which may be the last thing on your mind if you have a painful injury.

Related articles:

Using your EHIC; free emergency medical treatment in the EU

Five things you need to know about your rights if you’re affected by snow

Saving money on a hire car

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