Ski travel insurance is a top buy for any Aussie heading to the snow. It usually comes as an optional add-on to travel insurance, and gives you extra protection for things like lost or damaged skiing equipment, refunds on unused lift passes, and even mountain rescue.
It's sometimes referred to as snow sports cover or winter sports cover but, whatever you want to call it, ski travel insurance is a worthwhile investment that every slope-goer should consider.
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A travel ban is in place for all Australians effective 25 March 2020. Most travel insurance brands will not cover you if you travel against a government warning. If you already have a policy, please contact your insurer directly for more information. We are currently updating our site to reflect the Australian government’s advice. Some travel insurance policies will be temporarily unavailable.
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What is ski travel insurance?
Ski travel insurance is a type of cover which is specifically designed for people visiting the slopes to ski, snowboard, or take part in any other recreational snow sports.
It usually comes as an optional add-on to a standard travel insurance policy, but provides additional cover that's useful for people who are skiing or snowboarding.
What does ski insurance cover?
Lost or damaged equipment. Travel insurance can help towards the cost of replacing expensive ski equipment if it's lost, stolen or damaged during your trip. It can even pay for a replacement lift pass if that goes missing too.
Equipment hire. If your gear is lost or damaged, insurance will cover the cost of rental so you can get back on the slopes as quickly as possible.
Injury on the slopes. Lots of standard travel insurance policies won't cover medical expenses if you hurt yourself while skiing, but ski insurance will.
Mountain rescue. Even a relatively small injury can require mountain rescue if you're in a tricky spot. Ski insurance will cover the cost of helicopter rescue, as well as transport to the nearest hospital.
Unused lift passes. If an injury or even bad weather keeps you off the slopes, ski insurance can reimburse you for your unused lift pass, as well as wasted equipment hire or ski lessons.
How to find the best ski travel insurance
Compare policies. That's the number one, golden rule when trying to find the best travel insurance for a ski trip - or any trip, really.
You can use our online tool to start comparing, but make sure to read the product disclosure statements too. Here are a few things to keep a close eye on:
Benefits. Pay close attention to how the insurer reimburses you for damaged snow equipment, lost lift passes, rental excesses, resort closures, trip cancellations, and injuries.
Exclusions. Check for exclusions that might impact your trip. For example, some insurers won't cover injuries that happen while off-piste skiing, unless you're with an instructor.
Limits. Most policies have a maximum limit that you can claim for any one item. If you've got top-of-the-range gear, you might have to let your insurer know.
Price. You shouldn't buy a policy based solely on price, but we know it's an important deciding factor. Keep an eye on the cost to make sure you're getting value for money.
How much is ski travel insurance?
The average cost of a 30-year-old going to New Zealand for 2 weeks is AUD$92.72. This figure is based on 8 different policies with an excess of AUD$200 and last updated in June 2019. With all insurance, there are different factors that can affect the cost of your premium. These 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.
The excess you choose. Some people like to play with their excess amounts to get a more favourable premium. Those who are low risk will generally opt for a lower/nil excess so they don't have to worry about paying anything extra in case they have to make a claim. High risk people will generally opt for the higher excess to get the cheaper premium and hope they will not have to claim.
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, e.g. the US is one of the most expensive places to get cover due to its high medical care 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.
Every travel insurance policy will have activities or events that are excluded from cover. These can vary significantly between providers so it is important to be clear on events that you stand to receive a claim for:
Some sports are not covered automatically. Most policies will not provide a benefit payment for claims arising out of participation in:
Other exclusions include:
Resorts in certain periods. Some policies don't provide cover outside of the recreational ski season.
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 if under the influence of drugs or intoxicated.
Skiing out of bounds. There are a number of insurers that will cover you for skiing 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.
Ski insurance in Australia
Ski travel insurance can help for those short trips to Thredbo or Hotham. While Medicare can assist with medical expenses, you still run the same risks with skiing locally as you do when you're overseas. Domestic ski travel insurance can be useful if you need to claim for damaged equipment, losses if you get sick and can't use the rest of your lift pass, or even emergency evacuation if you need it.
Ski insurance in Australia could be handy if:
You take a fall and your skis
You want to try going off-piste and know the conditions will be a bit more challenging
You break your leg and have to visit a private medical facility for help
The ski fields close down because of bad weather and you have to change resorts or are forced to cancel
Hopefully none of these will happen to you, but this is why travel insurance is so important when you're on the go, even when it's in your own home country.
A piste is recognised as a marked run or path down a mountain. 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.
Cover is available on comprehensive, Australian travel and annual multi-trip policies.
Am I covered if I go off-piste without a guide?
In some cases, off-piste skiing without a professional or qualified snow sports guide will be excluded from your travel insurance cover. However, some policies do not feature this exclusion, so it's essential to check with your insurer to find out if you need to head off-piste with a guide in order to be covered.
Why should I get a guide?
Off-piste skiing without a guide is extremely dangerous. Guides have in-depth knowledge of the local conditions and potential hazards, and they know when it is and isn't safe to visit certain areas. An experienced guide also knows all the right equipment to take along, will prevent you getting lost, and knows what to do if something goes wrong.
What qualifications does my guide need to have?
Travel insurance brands typically require guides to be a:
Holder of Level 2 Backcountry security award or relevant equivalent of this award. Instructors with this award have undergone critical assessment and training in high mountain safety.
Holder of backcountry and mountain safety qualification. This is mandatory for Level 4 back country instructors. Instructors with this award can teach off-piste snow sports and lead tours in high mount terrain and areas outside the boundaries of a resort.
Is cross-country skiing covered?
Cross-country skiing is making your way around the ski fields without the assistance of chair lifts or other transportation. Not all insurers cover this because of the added risk. Here are a few insurers that will.
InsureandGo covers cross-country skiing on marked trails
Is professional skiing covered?
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.
Off-piste skiing is covered under Winter Sports Travel Insurance
Am I covered for snowmobiling?
Carving through fresh powder on the back of a snowmobile can be ridiculously fun, but unfortunately it comes with a high risk of injury attached. The consequences when things go wrong on a snowmobile can be significant, with head injuries and broken limbs just two of the potential risks. Some policies will offer a winter sports pack that you can add to your policy for an extra premium to ensure that you are covered for any claims that arise in connection with you operating a snowmobile.
Snowmobiling is provided if you have purchased the Winter sports Cover upgrade
Snowmobiles can only be provided by recognised piste authorities as a form of transport to and from skiing areas
Snowmobiles can only be provided by recognised piste authorities as a form of transport to and from skiing areas
Snowmobiling is covered by paying an additional premium
Snowmobiling safety tips
Slow down. Speed has been shown to be a contributing factor in the majority of snowmobile accidents, so make sure to travel at a safe pace when riding a snowmobile.
Be safe. Throwing your snowmobile around corners and off jumps like you're a stunt double in a James Bond movie might sound like fun – but it's also incredibly dangerous. Don't be stupid or reckless – drive safely and you'll reduce the chance of any accidents.
Don't drink and ride. We all know the risks associated with driving when drunk, so don't get behind the handlebars of a snowmobile if you're under the influence.
Choose your steed carefully. Make sure any snowmobile you ride is in good condition and receives regular maintenance.
Wear the appropriate gear. As well as a helmet, make sure you have gloves, goggles, boots and other appropriate clothing.
Plan your route. Plan your snowmobile route ahead of time and tell someone where you are going and your expected time of arrival.
Stay alert. Make sure you keep your eyes peeled for any obstacles and if fatigue starts setting in, take a break.
Take a first aid kit. Make sure you have emergency medical supplies handy in case something goes wrong.
Am I covered if I heli-ski?
Rather than using the traditional ski lift, heli-skiing gives you access to off-piste downhill skiing and snowboarding routes via helicopter. If you're planning on going heli-skiing on your next trip, make sure to check whether this type of snow sport is covered by your insurer before you start your journey.
While some insurers do cover heli-skiing, you'll usually need to pay extra to take out snow sports cover or even cover specifically designed for heli-skiing. Other companies will exclude all claims related to heli-skiing, so contact your insurer for more information.
What should I do if there's an avalanche?
The importance of an accompanying guide cannot be understated. Not only will a professional guide have a wealth of knowledge about the local conditions, they will also have all the necessary tools and equipment for off-piste skiing. If something goes wrong, they're the best chance you've got of being rescued and getting out alive.
There are some other general safety tips you should always keep in mind in regards to avalanches when skiing off-piste, including:
Carry the essentials. A shovel, a transceiver and a probe are three essential devices for avalanche safety, and you should always carry them with you when skiing off-piste.
Practice makes perfect. If you're planning on going off-piste, consider heading out beforehand with your skiing companions to practise searching for buried transceivers. Knowing exactly what to do could mean the difference between life and death.
Know the warning signs. From wind direction and snow deposits to the distinctive sounds when an avalanche is about to occur, make sure you know the warning signs that indicate a slope is unsafe.
Listen to the experts. Wherever you are in the world, make sure to read daily avalanche warnings for your particular area and take note of any advice and recommendations.
A. Conditions will vary but generally yes, provided you are within the boundaries of the ski resort.
A. Most insurers will require you to be with a professional snow-sport instructor/guide in order to be covered.
A. Generally yes, you will be covered as per normal for medical expenses and evacuation.
A. Yes, provided it is a recognised resort that is safe and open.
A. Not if you are using it at the time.
A. Generally you will need to purchase cover for heli-skiing as an additional benefit. An additional premium will apply.
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
A. Generally, yes. Check to see if your condition is automatically covered in your policy (usually conditions like allergies and asthma are included). If you have a more serious condition, consider AllClear a brand that specialises in travel insurance for the elderly and those with pre-existing medical conditions.
Jessica Prasida is a graduate publisher for Finder specialising in travel insurance. She loves travelling and is a wannabe dumplings master. Jess has a Bachelor of Business from the University of Technology Sydney. She is currently studying a Master of Marketing and her Tier 1 General Insurance qualification.
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