Hit the powder, not your wallet this ski season

AA THE snow settles in London and the transport system goes into an adolescent sulk, many of us have started thinking about places where the white stuff is more welcome. With many resorts reporting bumper snowfalls, it is beginning to look like yet another excellent ski season for the Alps. Time to get out the goggles then.

Remember that skiing can be a dangerous activity, however. Though the traditional broken leg is now a rarity, an average of 40 people die skiing in America every year, while countless more suffer broken wrists or twisted knees. If you get injured, you don’t want your bank balance to be a victim too. In Europe, an air ambulance rescue could cost as much as £10,500, and hospital bills up to £1,200 a day. Despite that, according to research by AXA Insurance, as many as one million Brits will go skiing this year without adequate insurance. So what should you know about getting insured for skiing?

In Europe, you should be sure to carry your European Health Insurance Card, since that will cut the upfront costs of any hospital visits. Many ski resorts only have small private clinics, however, so you will also want travel insurance to cover the cost of any smaller injuries. In the USA and Canada, healthcare is typically a lot more expensive than in Europe, so you should also make sure that your cover is extensive enough if venturing further afield.

Check that you are insured for the right thing too. Vanessa Fisher, from the Ski Club of Great Britain, says that “the most important thing is to make sure you check the small print”. While most annual travel policies will include some coverage for winter sports, some skiers will find that their chosen activities aren’t covered.

With off-piste skiing, for example, many policies will require you to be skiing with a guide, or the definition of off-piste might be very limited – excluding ski touring or heli-skiing. Similarly, it is relatively rare for a policy to cover freestyle skiing, or “jibbing”, so if you (or your teenager) likes to hit up the snow-park, you should make sure you are properly insured.

Specialist winter sports insurer Snowcard will cover you off piste and without a guide as standard but it also offers a range of advanced policy options depending on what activities you intend to do. If you want to throw a few 360s in the half pipe, or shred some backcountry powder, there are policy options to cover you. Snowcard also allows you to insure your ski equipment, including avalanche gear, up to a value of £3,000, though you will still have to be careful with your skis.

Another specialist provider is Dogtag, which issues every insured person with a stainless steel dogtag carrying their name, their policy number and the 24-hour emergency number – that’s helpful for the authorities if you are injured and saves you carrying scraps of paper on the slopes.

Dogtag will cover you for activities such as ski touring, ski mountaineering and heliskiing but stops short – perhaps rather understandably – at covering you for stunting, ski jumping and acrobatics.

When the snow is falling, many people will get a little too excited. The most important thing is to remember to be careful. If you ski within your abilities, pack the right gear and don’t do anything stupid, then you shouldn’t injure yourself. But if you do, then if you have the right insurance, at least it won’t cost you too much.