Hitting the Slopes (and Doing it Safely): A Guide to Winter Sports Insurance

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When winter rolls around each year, millions of people from around the world flock to places like St. Moritz in Switzerland, Tremblant in Canada, the French Alps and Aspen in Colorado. What's the single thing these places all have in common? A proliferation of bone-numbing cold, mountains of snow and by far the most important of them all - winter sports.

Whether it be basic skiing or snowboarding, or for the more adventurous, bobsledding, tobogganing or even the luge, winter sports have always captured the hearts of many due to their popularity at the Winter Olympics, held every four years. But what happens in the years in between the Olympics, when winter sports are not accessible from the television screen? The world’s masses bundle up and hit the slopes, trying their own hand at sports that are both thrilling and threatening at the same time. But with such popular, dangerous sports comes the need for protection. With over 200 million skiers and almost 70 million snowboarders in the world today, it is easy to understand the need for top-notch insurance, not just rudimentary insurance, but specific winter sports insurance plans





More than the Average Packing List

When considering or packing for a winter sports-related vacation, most people think to pack the obvious items; a heavy coat, gloves, skis or a snowboard, boots and so on. They do not think to include winter sports insurance as one of the “must have” items in their suitcases. That is the first place where many people go wrong. Winter sports insurance is just as important, if not more important, than the basic necessities to keep out the cold. The potential dangers that any winter sports trip can present are innumerable and varied, from stolen or lost equipment to accidental injuries or an unforeseeable avalanche and more. In fact, in the United States alone, an average of 40 people die out on the slopes each year.

This brings about the need for research into an all-encompassing winter sports insurance plan that completely covers all potential incidents that might occur. This might take even more research than simply searching for a place to go. However, the work put into finding such a plan might end up being well worth it if such an incident were to occur. After all, most winter sports enthusiasts would much rather be carving up the mountains, and not buried beneath suffocating mountains of medical and legal expenses.



Finding the Right Winter Sports Insurance Plan

First, it is important to note that most single-trip, standard insurance policies do not cover winter sports. Therefore it is imperative, prior to a winter sports holiday, that a winter sports insurance policy plan is obtained. This type of plan, called a multi-trip plan or alternatively, ski trip or a snowboard trip plan, will adequately cover any sort of winter sport, from heli-sking to sledding along with the more standard aspects of a basic insurance plan. These include the fundamental areas of coverage like medical expenses, loss of baggage, damage to or loss of equipment, reimbursements and cancellations.

Another important fact to point out is that winter sports insurance can only cover so much, meaning that pre-existing medical conditions must be taken into account before attempting to purchase a winter sports insurance plan. This is to ensure that the plan purchased does not contain any exclusions brought on by any of those pre-existing conditions. In the case that there is such exclusion, a “pre-existing medical conditions policy” should also be purchased in addition to a simple winter sports insurance plan.


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In terms of cost, searching for winter sports insurance should not be thought of as trying to find the cheapest rate available. Cheap plans will not sufficiently cover essential areas and will cause accident costs to run high because claims usually cost more than the insurance itself. Instead, to filter out the best and most cost-effective plan, a simple course of action should be carried out. Determine the type of winter sports insurance plan needed, whether it be for skiing, snowboarding, etc. and then do a side-by-side comparison of up to three prospective policies, each from a different source. Not only does this ensure that any of the plans chosen will properly include all areas of coverage but it also allows for the most competitive price to be determined. Comparison sites are especially helpful in this process because they allow several filters to be applied to each search, including the number of people traveling, their ages, chosen destination and period of travel. This sort of specified search further trims the field of prospective policies, really giving a simplified view of which winter sports insurance plan is the best for the trip planned.



Getting the Most out of Your Trip

Of course, purchasing a winter sports insurance plan does not necessarily negate the potential for accidental injury or loss. There are a few other things to consider, for instance, the use of a helmet while participating in winter sports events. The governing body of skiing, Federation Internationale de Ski (FIS), actually lists wearing a helmet as one of its “Top Ten Tips for Safety on the Slopes”. In fact, some insurance providers dictate that a helmet must be worn or else if injured any claims will be invalidated. Other improved safety features which have been added to lower injury risk rates include quick release mechanisms, smarter ski and snowboard designs and a relatively new phenomenon, ski body armor. However, none of these, including a highly credible winter sports insurance plan, can completely shield you from the dangers of a relatively ambiguous sport that pit daredevil-like athleticism with the raw power of nature. However, in the case of an accident, having a sound winter sports insurance plan will definitely come in handy with the healing process, allowing you to hurry to a faster return to the slopes.