Winter sports travel insurance

Need to compare ski or snowboarding holiday insurance?

By Kevin Pratt Wednesday 4 April 2018

Winter sports holidays have seen a surge in popularity in the last decade, and if you're reading this page, it's likely that you've booked or are considering a trip yourself.  You're bound to be looking forward to your winter sports trip, but have you considered the potential dangers that come hand in hand with taking to the slopes?

Looking for travel insurance?

If you’re planning a winter holiday, it’s important to get travel insurance that will cover you if you get injured on the slopes, or if your ski or snowboarding equipment is lost or stolen.

A standard single trip policy is unlikely to cover you for winter sports - this includes activities such as tobogganing, off-piste skiing, ice-skating and heli-skiing - as this is a common exclusion on many policies. Instead, you need a policy specifically designed for winter sports holidays.

What are the benefits of winter sports travel insurance?

With this dedicated policy, you'll find that you get all of the standard features you've come to expect from holiday insurance, such as medical cover, loss of baggage cover, cancellation cover and emergency repatriation – but check policy wording as this varies from insurer to insurer.

It's also common for the insurer to include cover for a variety of winter sports activities, including on and off-piste skiing/snowboarding (you may need to be accompanied by an instructor if you plan to go off-piste), damage to, or loss of your equipment (this may include gear you've hired but refer to terms and conditions for confirmation) and reimbursement of ski school fees, equipment hire costs and lift passes should you suffer an injury or fall.

How dangerous are winter sports?

Winter sports can be dangerous, which is why it’s so important to make sure you’re covered before you hit the slopes. With critical injuries a very real possibility, it’s vital that you’re not only protected by your equipment, but you’re insured in the event of injury too. 

Between 2012 and 2016, 118 British skiers and snowboarders were hospitalised in European resorts – and thousands more became injured, according to official government statistics. Some of the most commonly affected areas of the body include the shoulder, spine, pelvis, hands, wrists, knees, ankles, and feet. Skiers tend to experience lower extremity injuries, whereas snowboarders more commonly experience upper extremity injuries. 

EHIC vs. winter sports travel insurance

If you’re skiing or snowboarding in Europe, you may be tempted to to rely on your EHIC for healthcare coverage – but you shouldn’t. There are some real limitations to the EHIC, such as the fact that you’re only covered for the same level of healthcare that citizens of the country are entitled to. Depending on which country you’re travelling to, you can’t expect to receive the same level of care as you would get with the NHS.

In addition, the EHIC doesn’t cover repatriation or rescue, two things which winter sports enthusiasts may need in an emergency. The cost of repatriation depends upon where you need to be repatriated from, but it’s a serious expense that shouldn’t be taken lightly. In most cases, the cost stretches to thousands of pounds.

Ultimately, the EHIC is best used as a back-up or supplement to a specialist winter sports travel insurance policy.

Which sports are covered by winter sports insurance?

Skiiing and snowboarding are two of the most popular winter sport activities - but they're not the only activities covered by winter sports insurance. As well as the various types of skiiing (i.e. heli-skiing, ski stunting, ski touring, and ski acrobatics), you can also get cover for a wide variety of winter sports, including bobsleighing, ice climbing, ice hockey, tobogganing, glacier trekking, lugeing and snowmobiling.

Winter sports covered by winter sports insurance

What doesn't winter sports travel insurance cover?

Most winter sports travel insurance policies will cover skiiing and snowboarding, but you should always check the policy wording to make sure they are included.

It's also important to check the policy and look for exclusions, where insurers won't cover you for certain activities. A typical example is something like off-piste skiing when you're not accompanied by a fully qualified ski instructor. 

Winter sports insurance will not cover you if you fail to declare any pre-existing medical conditions that could later result in a claim.  In these circumstances, you should purchase a pre-existing medical conditions policy to ensure you will be covered.


Winter sports cover popularity by age

MoneySuperMarket data. Collected between January 2015 and October 2017.

Who takes out winter sports travel insurance?

Winter sports travel insurance is most commonly held by people aged between 31 and 55. Only 14% of people with winter sports insurance are aged over 56 – possibly because this type of holiday might be more popular with younger holidaymakers.

But the difference in the rate of people who take out winter sports insurance could also be explained by a study from the FCO and ABTA that found almost half (46%) of over-55s never check to make sure they will be covered for these types of activities.

Single trip or annual multi trip?

The clear majority of people who take out winter sports travel insurance are Single Trip policy holders. In fact, Single Trip policy holders account for more than double the number of Annual Multi Trip policy holders when it comes to winter sports travel insurance.

Winter sports cover popularity by policy of single trip, multi trip & backpacking

MoneySuperMarket data. Collected between January 2015 and October 2017.

What's the average length of a winter trip?

While a long holiday out on the slopes sounds relaxing, our figures show that most people are opting for shorter trips. Almost half (49%) of all winter sports travel insurance policies are for 0-7 nights, indicating that most people go on a winter holiday for up to a week. Longer trips aren’t particularly uncommon, however, with as many as 31% seeking a winter sports insurance cover for annual multi trips (90+ days).


Most common duration for winter travel

MoneySuperMarket data. Collected between January 2015 and October 2017.

Finding cheap winter sports insurance

We all want to save money on our insurance, but it is important to remember not to choose a policy based on price alone.  Cheap travel insurance policies might save you money in the short term, but the excesses you need to pay in the event of a claim may be much higher and you could be missing out on vital cover in key areas.

To make sure you get the right policy for your needs at a competitive price, you should compare winter sports insurance to review the different levels of cover available. Then it's really just a case of choosing the policy which you feel is the best fit.

Read our ski holiday insurance policy guide for more advice on choosing the right policy for a skiing holiday.

What details will I need to arrange my cover?

To begin comparing cheap winter sports travel insurance quotes, you'll simply need to have the dates of travel, destination, and personal details of you and members of your party - such as their date of birth - and you'll soon start receiving competitive quotes.

You can filter the search results by baggage cover, cancellation cover and the excess amount you'd be willing to pay in the event of a claim. This will help to make sure you get a tailored winter sports insurance policy with the features you need without breaking the bank. You can put the money you save towards that all-important holiday spending money.

Looking for travel insurance?

Did you find this helpful? Why not share this article?


View all articles >

Popular travel insurance guides

View all guides >