While some insurers do offer winter sports cover as part of their policies, most do not, says MoneySavingExpert’s Jo Gornitzki. Without it, you won’t be covered for lost or stolen equipment, or accidents. If you do already have a multi-trip policy, you may well be able to add a winter sports package on, but it is worth comparing the cost with a single-trip policy for winter activities (see chart). Ensure that the policy both gives you enough cover to replace all your gear, advises GoCompare.com – and that you’re happy with the excess.
Along with getting the right policy, make sure that everybody who is going is covered appropriately. If you’re using the Christmas break as a chance to spend time with children who don’t live with you full-time, you may need to cover them separately. Speak to your insurer directly on this – most are more than happy to provide it, assures Lawson. If you’re taking older kids, those aged 18 to 22 and in full-time education can be included in family policies, Lawson says. This means they’ll be able to travel with you and also independently. GOING OFF-PISTE
Once you’ve got a policy, it’s then important that you’re clear on what it allows. Check carefully which sports are covered, Gornitzki says. Even activities like husky sleigh riding and sledging are usually fine, but the more vigorous – like ski jumping or snowmobiling – may not be. It’s a similar story for going off-piste. According to GoCompare.com, over 80 per cent of insurers will cover off-piste skiing, but most place restrictions on it, and only 10 per cent of policies cover it unrestricted. You may find that your policy stipulates that you need to be supervised by a qualified guide, or that you’re covered only within the resort boundaries. “If you are venturing off-piste, consider equipment such as a transceiver, which helps locate you in the event you get lost or caught up in an avalanche,” advises Lawson. MEDICAL IMPERATIVE
Even if you’re sticking to the more traditional sports, it’s still a risky business. In 2012, the number of reported accidents on French slopes included seven deaths. That is particularly high, but it goes without saying that medical cover is vital. The European Health Insurance Card (Ehic) means you can be treated in state-run hospitals in EU countries, Norway, Switzerland, Liechtenstein and Iceland – but it is not a substitute for travel insurance. This is particularly important if you’re on the slopes, as the cost of privately-run medical teams and helicopter rescue will only be covered by winter sports insurance, explains Lawson.
When you’re not streaking down the slopes, no-one’s going to argue that a hot toddy isn’t more than tempting. But most travel insurance policies have exclusion clauses if you are under the influence. That needn’t mean a dry holiday, but “moderation is likely to keep you safe and covered,” says Lawson. The same can apply to skiing in bad weather or without a helmet. According to government figures, 70 per cent of people don’t wear a helmet when skiing or snowboarding. That said, most policies do not obligate it, says Lawson. It’s just a case of checking your policy, says Gornitzki – if you know what it says, it’s less likely that you’ll invalidate it. Harriet Green is business features writer at City A.M.