How To Choose The Right Ski Policy
If you're about to choose a ski insurance policy, then at least you've made a good initial choice. Too many people ski and board on travel insurance which will not cover them for winter sports.
The next challenge is to know which winter insurance policy is right for you. Let’s set out some of the key aspects of any policy that you should look at.
Don’t Always Just Select The Cheapest
Comparison websites can be a great way to see an immediate list of insurers that you need to look at. One of the downsides however is that you can look down the price and select accordingly. But the cheapest may not be the best for what you need. Some insurers now for example have cheap policies but high excesses which can make some claims challenging.
For example if you lose your ski gloves ,which are expensive, an excess of say £200 makes the claim virtually useless. Another example is lost luggage. Again with a ski holiday what you are carrying in your luggage can be expensive ski clothing and equipment so a company that puts a low limit of what you can claim may not cover the cost of your £500 snowboard. So whilst we aren’t saying that you need to buy an expensive policy do beware that cost should be viewed as one factor only.
Read The Terms And Conditions Carefully
Most of us are guilty in that we never read the fine print of any policy - let alone a winter sports one. But where skiing or boarding is concerned, it is really really important that you do. This is because it will lay out exactly what your policy will and won’t pay out for.
It will also lay out what you can make a claim for and what you can’t and what you need in order to make a claim.
Check Out Review Websites
If you are planning to use an insurance provider that you haven’t used before it can be useful to check out consumer reviews. Websites like Trust Pilot offer reviews of businesses worldwide. From these you can get a feel for how other consumers feel particularly on things like how easy the claims process is and also how long it took for an insurance company to pay out. One of the big gripes from people is that behind some of the glitzy marketing some insurance providers do then seem to make claims very difficult.
Remember when you look at these review sites that they are also in themselves a little controversial. Some do take money from the companies’ people are reviewing which makes some question their independence. The key here is to do some research but view it as a way of helping you make a decision rather than the only thing you make it on. One thing to look for is a company that has a lot of bad reviews, this should probably be a red flag. Most companies will have a mixture of good and bad reviews.
Specific Ski Questions - Off Piste and Heli
One of the key aspects to check of any ski insurance policy is whether you are covered for any aspect that is different to the normal on piste skiing and boarding. The first key areas to look for here is whether you are skiing off piste. Many skiers assume they will be covered but you must check this. Skiing off piste requires separate mention.
Some insurance policies will also require you to be with an instructor or local guide so again be careful. Secondly, if you are heli skiing again check that out as it is considered an extra in most policies. Thirdly, also check if you are covered for low altitude, poor snow. Poor snow can mean that your ski holiday is completely ruined so check that you are covered. Some insurers will also cover you for avalanches or pistes being shut due to heavy snow as we have experienced recently so again check this out.
Overseas Emergency Medical Assistance
Not all companies offer unlimited cover but some do. Do check out what medical costs will be covered and how much you are covered for. The advice tends to be to look for at least £5 million as a minimum cover. The issue with skiing and boarding is that accidents and injuries can be serious by the nature of the activity so hospital costs can be high.
You may have the chance to reduce your insurance costs by paying an excess but again be careful that you can afford the excess. The advice here is to be pessimistic and work from the presumption that you may need to use your insurance policy.
Many of us chuck our skis and boards down when we use the facilities either in resort or on the mountain and don’t think anything of it. But there is a growing rise of theft of such goods which makes it useful to check out what your insurance company offers. Many will pay for you to rent new goods while you are in resort so at least you can carry on skiing and boarding.
Some insurers do ask that you lock your skis when they are left unattended which many skiers think is unrealistic so a policy that says this may not be very helpful.
Do ensure that you are covered should you have to cancel your holiday. No company will cover you for a frivolous reason for cancelling but do ensure that you are reimbursed should you have to cancel for a serious reason. Ski holidays aren’t cheap, so you need to be in a position to get your money back. Check that the insurance company will pay and what reasons they will pay on. Most insurers will pay out £2,500 on cancellation.
Snow parks are an interesting one as they have become so popular with skiers, boarders and also children. They are now used by many as a fun thing to do on holiday and not just for those who want to really perfect their tricks. But insurers are concerned about this and some exclude them from their policies so don’t get caught out with this, do your homework and if you aren’t covered do not use them.
This is something of a hot potato as ,despite all the evidence, some skiers and boarders really do like to not wear helmets. Check out your policy though as some say you must wear a helmet ‘for your insurance to remain in place’. If your policy says this and you are deemed not to be wearing your helmet then it could invalidate your claim.
Multi Trip/Single Trip
Another consideration is whether you buy a single trip winter sports policy or multi. The key to a multi trip is whether you are planning more than one ski trip over the course of one year. Another consideration is whether it is cheaper to buy single or multiple cover. The latter is normally cheaper ie to put your family all on one policy.
Many insurers have now changed their guidelines on this ie many will now only classify children as under 18. But do shop around for policies that let you put a family, whatever the ages, on the one policy as it can work out better value.