Spring skiers warned to check their cover before heading for the slopes

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Spring skiing is hugely popular – but if you’re heading off to the mountains in March and April, the advice is to take time to check safety steps are in place before you put on your ski boots.

Skiers may be keen to snap up last-minute spring offers but Daniel Scognamiglio, who heads the specialist travel team at BL Claims Solicitors, says that taking time to make sure you’re properly covered by insurance is highly important.

“It’s estimated that there are around 300 million skiers and snowboarders globally and whilst serious injury is unusual there are still a significant number of injuries,” says Daniel.

“The impact for the uninsured and for those who end up in dispute with their travel insurers can be disastrous. The price list is scary. Helicopter mountain rescue comes in at around £20 per flying minute.

“Repatriation from Europe with an injury such as a broken leg can rack up fees in excess of £10k and from the States more than double that. And that doesn’t take into account the costs of hospital treatment.”

Daniel, a specialist in multi-jurisdictional disputes, travel insurance litigation and tour operator liability, says travel insurance costs are not extreme in the context of the cost of a holiday, or when you compare that cost with the alternative if you have to make a claim.

The most important thing is to check the cover levels and small print to check the policy is right for you.

It should include cover for any sports you’re planning on - heli-skiing, skidoo and tobogganing can lead to uninsured injury as travellers may not realise they need specific cover for these activities.

Daniel has the following travel insurance tips:

  • Don’t necessarily go for the cheapest option. Shop around but most importantly make sure you compare like-for-like cover and don’t just plump for the cheapest – it could be an expensive saving!
  • Policy minimums should cover you for around  £2m or more for medical expenses and £1m for personal liability to cover injuries you may cause to someone else.
  • Many people fall foul of bank account travel insurance believing it is comprehensive enough for ski holidays. It may be enough for a holiday on the beach but often won’t include winter or extreme sports.
  • Don’t rely on the European Health Insurance Card (Ehic), the old E111. This is not a viable alternative for travel insurance for a ski break.
  • Recent high profile cases such as Michael Schumacher’s ski injuries have resulted in a huge increase in the number of skiers wearing helmets. Although most insurers are only recommending head protection rather making it mandatory, it is likely this is a term which will become much more common and you should check your policy carefully to see where you stand.
  • Check local ski rules. Insurers can withdraw cover if you have an accident when in breach of local rules or authoritative advice.
  • Insurers can refuse to pay out if you are skiing beyond your ability.  Off-piste skiing in particular can have extra caveats – you may need a guide and to have equipment such as a shovel, transceiver and probe.
  • Lastly, stay off the Glühwein when you’re on the piste. Insurers can, and do, refuse to pay out if you are under the influence of alcohol when you have an accident.

Daniel adds: “It’s estimated that Alpine skiing and snowboarding carries a risk of between two and five injuries per 1,000 skiers. That’s not huge – but it’s significant enough to make sure you’re well covered before you get on the ski-lift.”

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If you would like to talk to someone and discuss a potential claim please call us on 0344 620 6600 anytime between 8am and 6pm Monday to Friday, or if you would prefer you can email us at info@blclaims.co.uk