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Safe Skiers Don’t Need Insurance?

I was reading a article in the ITIJ and it made me think of a particularly trying time in hospital in France, waiting for the results of x-rays in a busy, stressful hospital. I never used to bother with insurance and traveled to the same ski regions every year or so for 20 years and never had a problem with injury, but that time I ended up with a broken ankle and a nice bill sliding through my door on my return. If I was a good, careful skier, took no risks on the slopes and consistently suffered no more than a sunburned nose then why did I need insurance? It turns out even the most cautious of snowbirds sometimes ends up on the wrong end of a misplaced tree.


A recent survey by Sainsbury’s Bank showed how ski injury claims are soaring in certain regions of the world. For example, ski claims for injury by British holidaymakers leapt by 97.5 percent from 2010 to 2011 in Bulgaria. Other European destinations see a similar upward trend in ski injury claims. However, in other parts of the world the reverse is happening. New Zealand’s Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC) wrote a report showing ski injury claims were down dramatically in the same time period. Why the difference, and does it mean that you can get away without buying insurance if you are skiing in the southern hemisphere?

Ski injuries dropped in New Zealand, according to the NZ Snowsports Council, because of the implementation of an injury prevention program. In the last six seasons, according to experts, the injury rate per 1,000 visits dropped by 30 percent. These safety initiatives include improved trail design (no more running into areas of unsuitable snow by mistake), improved signs to help skier stay on the right path, machine-made snow for a smoother ride, dedicated safety personnel, a new Snow Responsibility Code and a National Incidence Database with accident reports, ski binding testings, and a lot of information and awareness campaigns for skiers before they hit the slopes.

If the resort is well-run and you get the benefit of these extra safety initiatives, do you still need insurance? It’s true that there are many ways you can take matters into your own hands by protecting yourself on the slopes. Wear a helmet. This is one of the easiest ways you can be safer on the slopes. In fact, several insurers deem it to be so important that they will not cover skiers who do not wear a helmet, for example Essential Travel insurers in the UK. Learn how to fall correctly – if you end up in the snow without dropping your poles first you can break your thumb. Wear protective gear and make sure all your clothing and equipment is well-maintained and fits you properly. If you are a beginner, make sure you have a few lessons before you hit the slopes so you know how to handle yourself in the snow. Similarly, if you are a beginner don’t take on too much and steer clear of difficult conditions.

You can be safe but you never know when some idiot is going to come barreling down the mountain on a run they are not prepared for, and crash into you. Like me, you could consider yourself an extra-cautious skier but other people are not. Insurance may not save you from accidents but it will save you from the bill. Take, for example, the Atlas Travel Series With Hazardous Sports Rider. You get sports travel insurance with an emergency medical evacuation service, including good coverage for ski injuries – the hazardous sports rider includes snow skiing and snow boarding. You may not consider skiing to be a hazardous sport but it can be expensive if things go wrong – an air ambulance can cost up to £9,000. Plus, once you’ve bought your insurance package you can forget about it and concentrate on being the best skier on the slopes this season.

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