Winter sports holidays are one thing, going off piste in search of your adventures on the slopes may be quite another. The very description of off piste skiing and snowboarding immediately conjures up a quite different picture of the scale and order of risk.
For that reason, off piste experts at Henry’s Avalanche Talk make no bones about the need for ski travel insurance that covers everything from mountain rescue, to medical emergency treatment and eventual repatriation to the UK. It is an essential part not just of having off piste fun and staying safe whilst you are enjoying it.
The website puts the cost of mountainside rescue, medical attention and flights back home as high as £30,000 to £50,000.
The appropriate insurance may be all very well and necessary, but the fact is that some policies restrict the cover you enjoy if you are skiing off piste – specifically, the removal of cover if you are skiing off piste without a guide or the exclusion of loss or damage to rented equipment, warns an advisory note on the government website.
Given these restrictions and exclusions, it is important that you check your ski travel insurance very carefully before venturing off piste and, if necessary, arranging specialist winter sports insurance to cover these particular risks.
Playing your part
It is a basic principle of insurance contracts that the insured takes every reasonable step to mitigate the risk of loss or damage by behaving as though the protection of an insurance policy was not in fact in place.
The following are some of the more basic steps you might take to prepare yourself for any foray off piste:
- know not just your technical limits but those determined by your own health – one of the major causes of death amongst skiers is heart attacks, suggests another government source;
- another major cause of injury is simply collision with other skiers – take care when judging distances, therefore, watch your speed and make sure that your travel insurance provides adequate public liability indemnity to protect you against claims from injured third parties;
- wearing the right safety equipment is also important – some resorts insist on the use of helmets, for example, and many insurers make their use a condition of cover;
- further essential safety equipment for those venturing off piste includes a shovel, a radio transponder and a probe;
- alcohol and skiing off piste certainly do not mix – not only is your judgment likely to be even more impaired by the effects of alcohol at higher altitudes, but you may be invalidating your insurance policy if you persist in skiing whilst under the influence.
If you are hoping to go off piste during your next skiing holiday, therefore, it is even more important to ensure that you have the necessary, specialist ski travel insurance to keep you – and others – safely protected.