Our Guide to Winter Travel Insurance
Getting abroad this winter to make the most of the snow is high on the list of travellers and thrill-seekers alike. Exactly how you go about getting there is up to you. Savvy travellers choose to get a plane near to the Alps and rent a car to drive into the mountains. Booking your car through easyCar before you travel guarantees a competitive rate and fast service when you arrive at your chosen destination.
Driving in the mountains with adverse weather conditions comes with its own challenges. You should consider checking the fine print of all documentation to see exactly what is covered through your rental, in case of damage.
You would also do well to brush up on local customs and laws of the road. For example, many Alpine countries, such as Italy and Germany require a driver to carry snow-chains in the boot of the car and that they be applied in thick snow. These can be added to any rental through easyCar.
When you’re about to head out on a winter holiday, the last thing you want to worry about is whether you have the correct insurance policy. Only 4 in 10 first-time skiers or boarders have the right type of cover – a fact that would shock more experienced hobbyists who are aware of the risks involved in many winter sports. There are a lot of things to think about when it comes to winter sports or ski insurance. For instance, some insurers (such as Essential Travel) now stipulate that a helmet must be worn at all times or the insurance policy is nullified, whilst most policies do not extend to off-piste skiing.
If respectful of the local rules and advice, 9 times out of 10 you will come home, thankfully, without the need to use your insurance policy. But it would be remiss to suggest this is a completely safe sport. It seems every skier or boarder has a tale of injury, whether that is personal or involving a friend.
What type of cover do you need?
It is important you get this right as otherwise you could end up footing a pretty hefty bill from mountain rescue teams. To put that in perspective, helicopter mountain rescue costs in the region of £20 per minute of flying time, which could often add up to £500-£1,000. Unfortunately, most bank account insurances or yearly policies do not extend to winter sports, but it’s always worth checking the fine print.
If your policy doesn’t extend to winter sports you could consider supplementing your existing insurance or even buying a completely new policy, making sure you don’t end up with double cover. While this may seem like a good idea at the time, what this effectively means is each insurer will try to negotiate less responsibility and eventually settle on a share of the cover each. This doesn’t necessarily extend to your excess fees, and you could be looking at paying out twice on that front.
And it’s not just injury that you should think about either. Theft of expensive ski equipment should be covered by your policy, so if anyone does decide to steal your brand new Salomon skis, you won’t be jogging down the slopes for the remainder of your trip. Check the baggage insurance that comes with your policy to make sure the Ski equipment you bring or rent is fully covered by the policy.
If you’re more of a thrill seeker then you may want to look into taking out specialist ‘adventure travel insurance’. That will be more tailored for your exact needs and cover things such as heli-skiing, off-piste-ing and more extreme jumps and tricks.
How to make sure you are covered
Reading the small print of any policy is always the best place to start. This way you can know exactly what it is you can and can’t do. Most insurers will not cover off-piste skiing so bear that in mind if that’s how you’re looking to get your adrenaline rush. As previously mentioned, some insurers will only cover you if you’re wearing a helmet at all times. Perhaps unsurprisingly, most will not pay out if there is evidence you were under the influence of alcohol at the time of the accident. This may make you think twice about the Glühwein or rum-laced hot chocolate for lunch.
Local instructions should also always be listened to, whether that be closed slopes or speed restrictions. Disobeying these could easily lead to your insurance company not paying out.
Where to insure
Your best bet is to go through a comparison site to see what the best option for your particular needs would be.
Remember, it is always worth paying a bit more for your policy and getting better cover and a lower excess. For the few pounds you may lose there and then, you will save tenfold if something were to happen.
At the end of all this it would be understandable if you’re hyperventilating at the thought of hitting the slopes this winter. But remember, it is one of the most popular pursuits in the world and the majority of people come home without any harm – besides a bruise or two. If you’re planning on taking a winter sports holiday this winter, take advantage of easyCar’s lowest price guarantee to ensure that you get the most from your rental car.