The number of winter sports fans hitting the slopes without insurance has risen dramatically according to new research.
As the ski season gets set to kick off research by ABTA reveals more than 3.5 million British adults, who have been on a winter sports holiday, have never taken out travel insurance to cover themselves for activities such as skiing and snowboarding.
ABTA has said the research is a timely reminder to holidaymakers to make sure they have the appropriate travel insurance policy in place before they go. The association is also highlighting the importance of getting fit for the season and warming up properly before taking to the slopes, to help reduce the likelihood of injury.
ABTA Members have reported more than 200 significant injuries amongst British holidaymakers in the past ski season, which include collisions and falls on the slopes – however, these figures represent just those cases reported by ABTA Members and the association believes the total number of incidents could be much higher. The injuries reported are also not exclusive to skiing, with a number of incidents resulting from other activities including snowboarding, bum boarding and tobogganing.
While accidents on the slopes can happen to anyone at any time, the new research suggests those aged between 25-34 years have, on average, had more first-hand experiences of winter sports injuries than any other age group. One in eight (12%) 25-34 year olds, who have been on a winter sports holiday, have travelled with someone who has had a major injury from the slopes, such as a broken bone or concussion, requiring hospital treatment. A further 6% have had a major accident themselves.
Meanwhile, those aged 45-54 years are most likely to take out holiday cover, as more than half (51%) of the age group who have ever been on a winter sports trip say they always take out travel insurance, compared to just over a quarter (28%) of 18-24 year olds.
Holidaymakers are encouraged to wear a helmet when taking part in winter sports activities and check their equipment fits properly to reduce the risk of injury. ABTA also urges them to check safety advice specific to the resort, including when and when not to go off-piste, as well as avalanche risk levels.
To help skiers and snowboarders prepare for their holiday, ABTA has teamed up with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) and The Ski Club of Great Britain to provide some top tips, from pre-departure to après ski. Nikki White, ABTA’s Director of Destinations and Sustainability, said:
“Nearly a third of winter sports holidaymakers are heading out to the slopes without the appropriate travel insurance in place, putting themselves at risk of costly medical bills if they have an accident while abroad.
“It’s really important that people take out an insurance policy that covers them for all the activities they plan to do on holiday, as well as getting themselves ski-fit beforehand, so they can focus on having an enjoyable and safe trip.”
Julia Longbottom, Director of Consular Services at the FCO, said: “We urge anyone heading to the slopes this winter to take the time to prepare ahead of your trip, so you can have a safe and enjoyable holiday. The #skisafe information on the travel advice pages of gov.uk provides a handy checklist. It is particularly important to check you have adequate insurance for the activities you plan, and that you declare any pre-existing medical conditions. Should you need to be rescued from the slopes, hospitalised abroad, or flown home, you could face very expensive bills if you do not have the right insurance cover. The FCO cannot fund these costs for you. Check your cover and enjoy the peace of mind that you will get the support you need if anything goes wrong.”
Ian Holt, Chief Executive of Ski Club of Great Britain, said: “To get maximum enjoyment out of your time on the slopes, it is important to physically prepare yourself. Getting ski-fit is the best way to prevent against injury whilst enhancing your experience of the mountains. Being safe on snow, especially off-piste, is essential and that is why we are building upon our well-established mountain safety programme this winter. Our specially-designed insurance product caters for all forms of mountain experience, ensuring full cover for almost all eventualities, to suit skiers of all levels.”