Do you purchase winter sports travel insurance for your ski and snowboarding holidays? If you don't then slap yourself and promise me that you'll always purchase travel insurance in future. If you do, then you rock. But do you make sure your travel insurance covers you specifically for skiing or snowboarding? This is super important as not all travel insurance policies are equal. Let me explain why it's so important and how to choose the best travel insurance for your next ski holiday.
I'm calling myself a bit of a travel insurance expert and qualified to write this post for a couple of reasons.
- I used to work for one of the largest travel insurance companies in the world. I worked with all departments including the claims team, the underwriters, the lawyers, the doctors (yes they have those), the nurses and the call centre.
- I have had to make several claims, including one where we were in the USA and Mick had to undergo major surgery on his shoulder after a collision whilst snowboarding.
It is for these two reasons that I'll never go on a snowboarding holiday overseas without ski travel insurance. Most of the time you won't need it, and that is a definitely a good thing. But when you do, you'll be so glad you have it, as long as you have the right coverage. For example, that shoulder injury would have cost us at least $25,000. That's a lot more than the few hundred dollars we paid for travel insurance.
The three biggest things that I have learnt through my expert experience is:
- Reading a PDS (Product Disclosure Statement) is one of the most boring things that I have done.
- Being paid to read a PDS did not make it any less boring.
- It is essential that you read the PDS before you purchase your travel insurance.
For those of you who aren't familiar, the PDS is essentially the terms and conditions of your travel insurance. It outlines what your travel insurance will and will not pay for. It also informs you of what you can and can't make a claim for.
I do recommend that you read the entire PDS but I also appreciate that most of us would rather watch paint dry. At the very least, look for the section that covers winter sports. Most PDS's are in PDF format so on your computer just click CTRL + F (Windows) or CMD + F (Mac) and search for the keywords snow or ski and it will bring you to the relevant section.
What to look for
The biggest thing you need to consider and look for is whether you need off piste, heli ski and/or low altitude coverage. A lot of travel insurance companies will not cover you for this, so if you get injured whilst skiing or snowboarding off piste, whilst you are on a heli trip or at a resort which is at low altitude, then you're on your own.
The second thing to look out for is overseas emergency medical assistance. Most travel insurance companies provide unlimited cover but not all. It would be awful to be in a situation where you needed to have emergency surgery, only to find out that you weren't completely covered. Check for this, along with how much your excess would be. Most insurance companies will provide an option to reduce the excess by paying a little extra. Whether you do this is entirely up to you but at least you'll be aware as to what you'll be up for. I do however recommend reducing your excess as much as you can for a long holiday. Multiple claims can be costly.
Other things to look out for are:
- Coverage for bad weather conditions - some ski insurance policies will reimburse you for expenses if the mountain is shut due to bad weather or an avalanche. This may include transport, accommodation, rentals and pre-purchased lift tickets.
- Stolen goods - in the event that some douche steals your gear or if it gets damaged, your travel insurance company might cover the cost of hiring equipment so that you can continue skiing on your holiday.
- Cancellation - this refers to having to cancel your trip or part of your trip due to unexpected circumstances. The reason has to be unexpected and it has to be kind of a big deal, not just because a better offer came up. Your travel insurance company may reimburse you for all or some of the travel related expenses that you have paid for in advance.
There are a whole bunch of other things within an insurance policy that you should be aware of. I suggest skimming through the headlines at the very least. Find what is relevant to you and make sure you understand what is and isn't covered before purchasing.
I also suggest reading reviews of the travel insurance company you are thinking of purchasing through. You will always get good and bad reviews for each company, but it will at least give you an idea of what the claims process is like. If one company seems to have nothing but negative comments about making claims and customer service then don't choose it. The money you saved on that insurance policy will be the least of your concerns if you are battling out a claim whilst injured.
not sure where to start?
We've done a lot of research before each of our snowboarding holidays. A LOT of research. There are a few travel insurance companies that we book through time and time again so start by checking these out. And make sure you read the PDS!!! Did I say that already?
World Nomads is by far the most popular choice in the travel world. It has competitive pricing, is very flexible and is available to people from over 150 countries. It’s designed for adventurous travellers with cover for overseas medical, evacuation, baggage and a range of adventure sports and activities. It can be tailored to your trip based on the specific activities you will be doing and you can extend it whilst you are still travelling. You can even purchase it after your trip has already started and if you need to, you can make claims online.
Skiing and snowboarding sits under the adventure sports category and you'll have to upgrade your cover to what they call a level 3. Their ski insurance policy covers off piste skiing within resort boundaries, cat skiing and heli skiing.
Worldcare is a really good basic insurance policy. It is essentially the 'home brand' version from Allianz providing the same cover and service at very competitive prices. We, and friends of ours have had to make claims through this policy before and have had good experiences. This policy will not cover you for off-piste, heli skiing or any freestyle action though. It also requires that the resort is above 1000m and that your trip is taken within a certain date period. If you're looking for basic coverage, this is a good option.
Ski Insurance (australia)
We used Ski Insurance on our most recent holiday as it was by far the best value for us. We needed to have coverage for 9 months, and it had to include off-piste, heli skiing and all the other important things which I mentioned above. The quote for the 9 months came in at about half of other equivalent policies. We're talking about saving $2,000! What we also liked about their ski travel insurance policy is that you can add in the heli option later as long as it is within 24 hours prior to going heli skiing. This worked out really well for us because we thought for sure we were going to go heli skiing over in the US and then we didn't. So it saved us a bit on the policy too. Ski Insurance also has a professionals policy. They are the only insurance company that provides protection for competitive skiing/snowboarding in Australia. And there is also basic cover available if you think you'll be staying on piste.
1COVER (NEW ZEALAND)
We've found the 1Cover policy to be the best value insurance for skiing and snowboarding for New Zealanders. The winter pack includes heli-ski and off piste as standard. They do charge double excess though if you make a claim as a result of skiing or snowboarding so something to keep an eye on. Friends of ours had to make a claim through this policy (involving broken ribs) and had a very positive experience.
I hope that this helps you choose the best ski insurance for your next ski holiday. Read more about how our travel insurance saved us at least $25,000 and stay tuned for my next post on what to do if you have to make a travel insurance claim.
Do you have any tips on choosing ski travel insurance or experiences that you would like to share?
Let me know in the comments below! (Make sure you click on 'subscribe via e-mail' to be notified when we write back).
Some of the links in this post are affiliate links which means that we may receive a small commission if you purchase travel insurance through them. We will only ever recommend products that we personally use and like!
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Jen spends most of her time following Mick around the mountain, often unintentionally off jumps and cliff drops. Currently on a mission to prove that you’re never too old to try freestyle. Aside from snowboarding, a little obsessed about tattoos, CrossFit, saving animals, learning to play the guitar and clean eating. Web designer and digital marketing nerd.