Saturday, December 21, 2019

Your Money: Don't let your ski trip go off-piste

My idea of a holiday at this time of year is somewhere with the sun blazing and a beach. I’m not going to get lucky, unfortunately, but for many, the trip of the year is their annual excursion to the slopes. If skiing is your thing, now is the time when you are probably booking your getaway. But before you dust down your salopettes, it’s important to get another thing ski-proof: your travel insurance. If you don’t know your policy from your piste, then here’s what you need to do:

Travel insurance needs

The first thing to realise is that insurers consider skiing a hazardous sport. Your regular holiday cover will not be enough. At the very least, you’ll need a ski add-on, or specialist cover, for your trip.

Types of cover

“Basic things to look for include cover for emergency repatriation and medical expenses for injury or illness, as well as cover for lost/damaged ski equipment,” says Multitrip.com’s Ciaran Mulligan, whose site offers €20m in medical expenses cover on standard policies.

It may seem a massive amount of cover, but repatriating someone home in an air ambulance, or paying for care for a head injury, especially in the popular destinations in the US and Canada, can be very expensive.

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Exclusions

There may be some activities which are not covered on a ski policy, including heli-skiing, or skiing off-piste without a resort guide, adds Mr Mulligan. “Winter sports travel insurance covers a wide range of activities, including skiing, mono skiing, snowboarding, snow mobiling, snow sledging and off-piste skiing accompanied by a local resort guide, except in unsafe areas.”

In addition, if for any reason the Department of Foreign Affairs has issued a ‘do not travel’ notice, then you may not be covered if you insist on going, although the policy will probably cover your costs for the loss of the holiday.

Other cover

Injury aside, lots of things can happen on a skiing holiday which can leave you out of pocket, and it’s important to insure for them.

Ski equipment is expensive, and your package or resort may not automatically have cover built in. Mr Mulligan adds: “Loss or damage of ski equipment, which can happen in ski resorts as people come back out from their lunch/coffee break on the slopes, is important, while cover can also be provided if a piste is closed due to lack of snow or, the opposite, an avalanche.”

Some policies cover the loss of snow – which can ruin your trip for obvious reasons – as a daily rate; around €50 if you are unable to ski, which at least provides downtime cash.

Assistance cover

This type of cover is normally charged for a small extra premium, and it typically gives you an extension of cover which isn’t just financial in nature. It provides on-the-ground services that aren’t medical – for instance, a translator, legal assistance, someone to liaise with your family or employer and locate services locally. This may well be included in a top-of-the-range policy, so it’s worth checking if it’s part of the package.

Cost

You should be able to add on ski cover to your travel insurance if you have an annual policy. Otherwise, you can buy it from around €26.99 for a couple, or €46.99 for family insurance, says Mr Mulligan.

Remember, if you have private health insurance with any of the three providers (Laya, VHI, Irish Life), you’ll qualify for a discount on your travel policy. Finally, it may seem like an extra cost, but going without is far more expensive.

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