Going skiing or snowboarding? Avoid huge bills on the slopes for as little as $20 extra*
While heading off on what has become known as an ‘adventure sports’ holiday can be extremely exciting and exhilarating, ski trips have always brought an increased risk of injury, often resulting in costly treatment. Ski insurance can be purchased as an additional option or as a standalone policy and provides extra cover for a range of losses you may experience including:
- Emergency evacuation from ski-fields
- Lost, stolen or damaged equipment - owned or hired
- Unused ski-passes or lessons
- Off-Piste skiing/snowboarding
- Extra cover for a range of winter sports usually excluded
- This guide will outline what to look for in ski insurance. If your ready to take out cover, compare winter sports travel insurance from insurers below.
Compare ski travel insurance policies from Australian brands
Cover provided as standard
Ski cover available for an additional premium
Automatic cover will depend on the insurer and policy you select
Some policies will automatically cover a wide range of amateur sporting and adventure activities, including snow skiing and snowboarding.
Other insurers will require you to purchase a winter sports pack in order to get the protection you need.
A ski travel insurance policy provides all of the same features as a standard policy such as cancellation cover, luggage cover, medical cover plus stacks more including:
- Emergency transport to hospital. In the event of an accident on the ski fields, ski insurance can ensure that you are covered for emergency evacuation to the hospital and even for helicopter rescue if this is required. Most insurers will cover emergency evacuation to the nearest hospital and home again if necessary.
- Extreme weather conditions. In the event that you forced to cancel your trip due to extreme weather such as blizzards and snowstorms, ski insurance allows you to recoup prepaid costs and expenses.
- Cover for equipment hire. Winter sports travel insurance covers loss or damage to hired and owned ski or snowboard equipment. If your ski gear is delayed (for more than 24 hours) or lost by your carrier, your insurer may cover the costs associated with hiring equipment.
- Cover for your own equipment. Ski insurance can also provide cover for specific items if they are over a certain price. You will be covered for the repair and replacement of your equipment and for the additional cost of hiring alternative equipment.
- Weather related issues. Many snow travel insurance plans cover you for transport and accommodation expenses if you are forced to travel to a new resort due to inclement weather.
- Unused ski passes or lessons. Depending on which cover you take out, you may also be covered for unused ski passes, equipment hire and lessons in the event that you are unwell or as a result of loss or theft.
- Heli-skiing. Many providers provide cover for heli-skiing for an additional premium loading.
Am I covered for a pre-existing condition
Pre-existing conditions and travel insurance can be tricky, especially when coupled with the increased risk that skiing and other winter sport present.
Take Yossarian. He was planning a ski trip to Japan but the year before had broken his leg. After the break, Yossarian required a follow up surgery on the same leg. Yossarian was concerned that if he went on his trip and tore an ACL in the same leg that he would not be covered by his insurer as it would be a pre-existing condition.
Yossarian checked with his insurer prior to going on his trip. He found out that while his insurer did cover pre-existing conditions such as broken limbs, it stipulated that the injury must have occurred and been under control more than 12 months prior to the purchase of the policy. Luckily for Yossarian, his trip was going to be more than 12 months after the surgery and as such, he was eligible for cover.
Off-piste skiing refers to skiing in the backcountry or on unmarked trails. As there are more risks involved, only a handful of insurance providers will offer off-piste cover.
|Off-piste skiing (only as provided under the Winter Sports and Winter Sports Professional Ski PDSs)||Get Quote|
|Off piste skiing covered (with a professional snow sport instructor/guide only)||Get Quote|
|Both off piste and cross country(Nordic skiing) are covered provided you have paid additional Winter Sports Cover premium||Get Quote|
|Off-piste skiing is covered under Winter Sports Travel Insurance||Get Quote|
|Off-piste is covered||Get Quote|
|Off-piste is covered within resort and terrain park boundaries on groomed or ungroomed runs and marked trails which are patrolled or monitored by resort authorities||Get Quote|
Wanting to try your hand at cross-country skiing? Not all insurers cover this. However, a few of the ski insurance in our panel do.
|Columbus Direct cover cross-country skiing on marked trails||Get Quote|
|InsureandGo cover cross-country skiing on marked trails||Get Quote|
|Travel Insurance Direct covers cross-country skiing on marked trails||Get Quote|
Cost isn't everything. While price is an important consideration, it's best to look at what a policy provides rather than how much it is going to cost you. While the cheaper policy may make you a small saving in the short term, those few extra dollars could save you thousands in the long run. However, the most expensive policy is not always the most comprehensive. Doing a side-by-side comparison can help you make a more informed decision. Below is an example of a side-by-side comparison of four insurers from our panel.
|Provider||Columbus Direct||InsureandGo||Travel Insurance Direct||1Cover|
|Destination||New Zealand, Pacific and Bali||New Zealand, Pacific and Bali||New Zealand, Pacific and Bali||New Zealand, Pacific and Bali|
|Policy name||Standard||Bare Essentials||International||Ski Plus|
|Policy type||Single Trip||Single Trip||Single Trip||Single Trip|
|Overseas Medical Expenses||$12.5 million||Unlimited||Unlimited||Unlimited|
|Cancelation Fee Cover||$10,000||n/a||Unlimited||Unlimited|
|Luggage & Personal Effects||$6,000||$2,000||$12,000||$5,000|
|Length of Trip||14 days||14 days||14 days||14 days|
|Age of Traveller||35||35||35||35|
|Get Quote||Get Quote||Get Quote||Get Quote|
As with every active outdoor sport, snow sports carry a certain risk of injury.
While you risk of sustaining an injury on the slopes is much lower than you think (less than 0.5%), accidents do happen. Medical treatment can be very expensive, particularly if you require evacuation from the ski field and a lengthy hospital stay in a foreign country. That's where ski insurance comes in.
Common dangers on the slopes
Even when you ski inside the defined boundaries of the resort or ski field, there are plenty of hazards. These include rocks, trees and other immovable objects, moving hazards such as ski lifts and T-bars and if you’re an amateur skier, there’s always the ever-present danger of colliding with other people.
And if you ski off-piste (outside the boundaries of the resort), you can encounter even more formidable hazards, such as crevasses and avalanches and if you have an accident out here, you may find you’re not covered by your ski insurance at all.
Common ski injuries
There are a variety of ways that you can injure yourself while skiing and no part of the human body is immune. Common skiing injuries include;
- Head injuries. These can be minor, such as bumps, cuts and abrasions or more serious including unconsciousness, skull fractures and penetrating injuries.
- Knee injuries. These can include medial collateral ligament sprains (the most common alpine ski injury), anterior cruciate ligament sprains, tibial plateau fractures and meniscal injuries.
- Shoulder injuries. These can include shoulder dislocations, fractured collar bones, acromio-clavicular joint sprains, fractures of the humerus and rotator cuff injuries.
- Spinal injuries. There are two main types including flexion/hyper-extension (like whiplash) and compression, where the bones are pushed down onto one another.
- Thumb injuries. These are either direct impact injuries, usually resulting from collisions and indirect impact injuries such as skier’s thumb, which is usually caused by falling onto your hand while holding your ski pole.
- Wrist injuries. These injuries include displaced fractures, compound fractures, intra-articular fractures and comminuted (multiple) fractures.
Even a minor injury sustained on the ski slopes can ruin your holiday, particularly if you have to cut it short or spend time in hospital recuperating. So if you plan to partake in snow sports, plan to have ski cover in your travel insurance, because a few dollars down now could save you an avalanche of money down the track.Back to top
Is the cover on my credit card enough for winter sports trips?
Complimentary cover on your credit card while free, may not provide the level of cover you require for your trip. Some important points to note if considering this option:
- Generally not covered for ski insurance related losses
- Not likely that your pre-existing condition is automatically covered
- The excess you will be charged for a claim is usually quite high
- Cover for domestic trips is generally not included
- Usually limited options for additional cover for expensive items
- Generally only the cardholder is covered. Standalone cover can provide cover for your spouse or dependent children/grandchildren
- You usually won't be covered for long-term trips
Many ski insurance policies provide you with the option to purchase additional cover for the excess that may be payable on a ski equipment hire policy. In the event that the equipment is lost or damaged, the provider will pay the excess or for the cost of repairing the equipment, whatever option is the lesser.
If a medical practitioner certifies that you are unfit to return the equipment to the nearest ski hire equipment supplier, the ski insurance will cover the costs to a maximum amount to have the equipment returned.
Most insurers will allow this cover to be purchased after your trip has commenced provided the ski equipment has not already been in use.Back to top
Short answer, yes. It is possible to find cover for professional skiing. Unfortunately, not all insurers cover professionals, so it is crucial that you check with the company prior to purchase and also read through the PDS thoroughly. Luckily, two of the providers in our ski insurance panel do cover professional skiing.Back to top
Every travel insurance policy will have conditions for events that they will not provide a benefit payment for. These can vary significantly between providers so it is important to be clear on events that you stand to receive a claim for:
Sports generally not covered automatically. Most policies will not provide a benefit payment for claims arising out of participation in:
- Resorts in certain periods. Some policies don't provide cover outside of the recreational ski season. This provision is in place unless these resorts are open and there is sufficient snow for skiing.
- Bad weather and avalanche closure. Most providers will require you to obtain a written confirmation from an appropriate authority confirming the closure.
- Skiing under the influence. Like all travel insurance policies, you will not be covered for any losses that occur if under the influence of drugs or intoxicated.
- Skiing out of bounds: There are a number of insurers that will cover you for skiing/snowboarding off-piste but only if you are within the boundaries of the resort. Generally you will not be covered for backcountry skiing outside of the resort boundaries.
What exactly is Off-Piste Skiing?
Most insurers will offer cover for recreational skiing and snowboarding under a ski insurance policy but this will rarely include cover for off-piste, cross country or backcountry skiing.
A piste is recognised as a marked run or path down a mountain. Going off-piste is to go beyond these defined boundaries.Back to top
Travel insurance with a ski insurance option, should provide you with cover for:
- Medical expenses and dental emergencies. In the event that you are taken ill or injured and includes cover for emergency transport, medical evacuations, funeral arrangements and emergency dental.
- Luggage and personal belongings. You should be covered in the event of loss, damage or theft of personal belongings such as your luggage, credit cards, traveller’s cheques, and other personal items.
- Personal liability. If you injure someone or cause damage to their property while you are away, you could end up facing huge legal costs and damages. With personal liability protection you will be covered in the event that a claim is made against you.
- Accidental death or disability. Your ski insurance should cover you in the event of accidental death or disability while you are travelling.
- Excess on a rental vehicle. If you decide to rent a vehicle and you are involved in an accident or the car is stolen, you will be covered to some degree by the vehicle insurance you took out with the rental company. In the event that you are still liable to pay excess charges, your travel insurance should cover this amount.
- Holiday firm/airline insolvency. If you have already paid upfront for your holiday and you then find out that your airline or holiday firm goes out of business, you could face great financial loss. With your ski insurance, you will be covered for any prepaid expenses if your holiday company or airline goes bust.
- Delays and cancellation. Standard travel insurance also provides cover against delayed flights or if you have to cancel your trip due to reasons such as illness or injury that stops you from being able to travel.
- Removal of excess option. Most policies will allow policyholders to pay an additional small fee on their policy to have any excess they are charged under claim removed.
In addition to the benefits listed above, your ski insurance should also offer the additional specialist benefits that you need, including:
- Activity related injuries. If you sustain injuries while you are engaged in the winter sports activities for which you are covered on your specialist plan, you will be covered so you can get the treatment you need.
- Protection of specialist equipment. The cost of winter sports equipment can be extremely high. With your specialist cover, you can ensure that your equipment is covered against loss, damage or theft, which could save you a lot of money if something should happen to it.
- Additional coverage. There may also be other areas of coverage that are included as part of your winter sports travel insurance cover, such as ‘no snow’ cover in the event that you cannot take part in your chosen activities due to problems such as lack of snow, avalanches, piste closure or strong winds. Ski lift pass loss may also be covered, although this is not always the case, as some will only cover ski lifts if you cannot use them due to illness or injury.
These are just some of the features you should look out for on your policy. Each ski insurance policy will list both the benefits and exclusions of the policy clearly on the website or in the product disclosure statement. It is extremely important to review these and the conditions of each prior to application.
How do I choose a company I can trust?
Part of choosing the right policy for your trip is choosing a company you are comfortable with. You shouldn't base your decision on what cover to take out on price alone so some additional steps to help you choose a company include;
- Look at who the company is underwritten by. Is it an established insurance group that is recognised throughout the industry?
- Are there a range of policy options available with different features to help you tailor your cover closer?
- Who provides the emergency assistance for the company? Are they a recognised company and is assistance provided 24/7?
- Is there a dedicated claims team on hand 24/7?
- What has previous customers experience been with this provider? Tread carefully from reviews/forums responses from disgruntled customers who were outside the conditions of the policy
- Get an idea of what the company is going to require from you in the event of a claim prior to taking out cover
Many providers will allow you to take out cover for single trips to the snow or to take out an annual-trip policy that will cover you for an unlimited number of trips within a 12 month window. An annual trip policy could be a great option for you if you have taken out an annual ski pass and plan to travel to the snow at least 2 or 3 times a year. You will be covered for every trip you take under the one policy, bringing not only convenience but great savings. Most policies will require you to not take trips that last for longer than 3-4 weeks.Back to top
The cost of ski insurance varies based on a number of factors. With so many providers offering travel insurance, the market has become very competitive, which means that you can find some great deals if you take the time to look around.
Some of the things that can affect the amount that you will pay for ski insurance include:
- The provider you choose. Price isn't everything. While budget policies may appear great in a quote comparison table, they often have higher excess charges and lower payouts for different benefits. So be careful.
- The policy you choose. The level of cover you choose affects the amount you pay for your ski insurance such as medical only, standard or comprehensive cover.
- Your age. The older you get, the greater the risk to the insurer you pose, so you'll pay a higher premium.
- Your destination. The destination you're travelling to impacts how much your policy costs.
- The duration of cover. The cost of winter sports travel insurance can be affected by the length of time you are going for, as the longer you require cover for the more you will have to pay for this protection.
- Your holiday plans. If you are planning on engaging in risky activities, such as skiing, you'll end up paying more.
- Cover for high-value items. Most insurers allow you to take out additional cover for items with greater value than the default amount that will be paid for loss. Registering high price items will incur a premium loading based on the number of items and the value that is stated.
You may recognise the table below from earlier, but there is one difference. This time, not only does the table display the prices for ski insurance but also how that compares to the same policy prior to the addition of the ski option.
|Provider||Columbus Direct||InsureandGo||Travel Insurance Direct||1Cover|
|Destination||New Zealand, Pacific and Bali||New Zealand, Pacific and Bali||New Zealand, Pacific and Bali||New Zealand, Pacific and Bali||New Zealand, Pacific and Bali||New Zealand, Pacific and Bali||New Zealand, Pacific and Bali||New Zealand, Pacific and Bali|
|Policy name||Standard||Standard||Bare Essentials||Bare Essentials||International||International||Basics||Basics + Ski Plus|
|Policy type||Single Trip||Single Trip||Single Trip||Single Trip||Single Trip||Single Trip||Single Trip||Single Trip|
|Overseas Medical Expenses||$12.5 million||$12.5 million||Unlimited||Unlimited||Unlimited||Unlimited||Unlimited||Unlimited|
|Cancelation Fee Cover||$10,000||$10,000||n/a||n/a||Unlimited||Unlimited||Unlimited||Unlimited|
|Luggage & Personal Effects||$6,000||$6,000||$2,000||$2,000||$12,000||$12,000||$5,000||$5,000|
|Length of Trip||14 days||14 days||14 days||14 days||14 days||14 days||14 days||14 days|
|Age of Traveller||35||35||35||35||35||35||35||35|
|Total cost of cover||$55.00||$74.00||$27.69||$59.25||$56.00||$81.20||$34.00||$87.00|
|Get Quote||Get Quote||Get Quote||Get Quote|
*Prices shown accurate January, 2014. Prices are subject to change.Back to top
There are various conditions you should check before taking out a ski insurance policy, which include:
- The cost of your cover. The premium you pay should never be the sole factor to consider when comparing policies. Costs vary depending on the provider, level of cover, personal details, destination, how long you are going for, and activities you're participating in.
- The range of benefits included. Read through the PDS's of various policies in order to know exactly what you're covered for.
- Whats you won't be covered for. Checking what's not covered is just as important as reviewing the benefits you can receive.
- What winter sports are covered. The winter sports element of your plan is very important, as this will determine what sorts of sports you are covered for. While skiing may be covered, cross-country skiing may not be. Err on the side of caution.
- Additional cover options for your trip. Most providers allow you to take out single, group or family policy options. It’s important to not let yourself get locked into a policy that does not meet your travel requirements.
- Pre-existing medical conditions. This is another section of the PDS that is key to look at. If you have a pre-existing illness or injury make sure you're covered for it.
- Cooling off period applied. Most policies will give you a cooling offer period of about 14 days after purchasing the policy whereby your premiums may be refunded if you cancel the policy.
Just like with cross-country and professional skiing, not all providers are willing to provide cover. However, if you are looking for cover for over 70s, you're in luck. The table below shows the providers within our panel that do provide cover.Back to top
Some final questions you might have
Q. "If I broke my leg 10 years ago, is that considered a pre-existing condition?
A. Only if you are still receiving treatment for it
Q. If I break my arm on the mountain and need to be brought down, will I be covered?
A. Conditions will vary but generally yes, provided you are within the boundaries of the ski resort
Q. When will/won’t I be covered for backcountry skiing?
A. Most insurers will require you to be with a professional snow-sport instructor/guide in order to be covered
Q. Will I be covered if I am skiing over jumps or boundaries in a terrain park?
A. Generally yes, you will be covered as per normal for medical expenses and evacuation
Q. Am I covered in any resort?
A. Yes provided it is a recognised resort that is safe and open
Q. Will I be covered if I damage my equipment?
A. Not if you are using it at the time
Q. Am I covered for heli-skiing?
A. Generally you will need to purchase cover for heli-skiing as an additional benefit. An additional premium will apply
Q. Who can apply for ski cover in Australia?
A. In comparison to other types of travel cover, ski travel insurance is generally only available to people under the age of 65 as senior buyers are considered to carry too great a risk for insurers. Other general requirements for taking out this cover include:
- Must be a resident of Australia
- Policy must be purchased prior to starting journey
- Journey must start and end in Australia
If you are getting ready to jet off on your next ski holiday and are looking to get the right cover in place, you can follow the secure links located on the finder.com.au website through to our winter sport travel insurers. There is no obligation to sign up for cover and you can take the time to review the different policies available before purchasing your cover entirely online. The actual purchase process will not take longer than 10 minutes to complete provided you do not need to speak with your insurer about any pre-existing conditions or special activities you will be participating in.