What to look for in a ski insurance policy

8 min Read Published: 13 Mar 2024

What to look for in a ski insurance policyIf you're planning on hitting the slopes this winter, you might want to look into ski insurance before you go. Approximately 51% of ski goers surveyed by the Post Office said they didn't bother taking out winter sports cover before their trip last year.

This is a particularly startling statistic when you consider the fact that nearly 71% admitted to tackling slopes beyond their ability without the proper equipment or training. In Switzerland alone, approximately 63,000 people are injured while skiing or snowboarding every year accruing costs of roughly $686 million as a result.

Given these stats, it makes sense to look into ski insurance before you set off on your wintery adventure. Check out our guide below to find out more about ski insurance, also known as winter cover, and the general features and exclusions you can expect. Then, compare ski insurance and winter cover options using websites like Quotezone*.

What is a ski insurance policy?

A ski insurance policy is designed to cover you while you're on the slopes and partaking in a variety of winter sports. A standard travel insurance policy won't normally cover you for winter sports like snowboarding and skiing. Nor will it typically cover ski equipment costs and other compensation if your holiday doesn't go to plan for whatever reason.

Ski insurance, or winter sports cover, takes care of this shortfall and often covers all the things a travel insurance policy would, as well as aspects related to the skiing or snowboarding part of your trip. Winter sports cover can be a stand alone cover or can be an add-on to your regular travel insurance. This type of add-on covers you for a whole range of winter activities, including:

  • Skiing (on piste)
  • Snowboarding (on piste)
  • Sleigh rides
  • Tobogganing
  • Snowmobiling

You'll typically need a stand alone ski insurance policy if you're planning particularly adventurous activities like going off piste without an instructor. Policies like Snowcard and SportsCover Direct can offer more bespoke options that include activities not usually covered by ski insurance.

If you're planning on sticking to skiing on piste, bolting on a ski insurance add-on to your regular travel insurance might be sufficient. Some winter sports policies allow further add-ons for more adventurous sports as well.

What does a ski insurance policy cover?

Ski insurance is designed to cover you and your equipment if you plan on partaking in winter sports. Depending on your ski insurance policy, you might get cover for things like:

  • Loss, theft or damage to your equipment - Most policies will cover your equipment up to a certain amount regardless of whether it's owned or hired.
  • Cover for alternative equipment hire - If your luggage got delayed and you had to hire alternative equipment, your policy will usually cover this.
  • Piste closure cover - If a piste is closed due to no snow or avalanche risks, you may be compensated or your insurer might pay for travel to a nearby piste.
  • Personal liability - If you hurt someone while you're skiing or snowboarding, your policy may provide personal liability insurance to cover the costs.
  • Mountain rescue - Many policies will cover mountain rescue efforts if you were seriously injured while skiing.
  • Cover if you need to cut your trip short - If you need to cut your trip short due to an accident while skiing, for instance, you may get reimbursement for unused ski pass days, equipment, and lessons.
  • Repatriation - If you're hurt on the slopes, many insurance policies will cover the cost of getting you to a hospital and then back to the UK if necessary.

Not all travel insurance and ski insurance policies are the same. Some travel insurance policies come with winter cover as standard. And some ski insurance policies are less comprehensive than others. Although the above inclusions are fairly generic and often come as standard, it's worth double checking that your policy actually includes all of them before taking it out.

Do you need ski insurance if you have a GHIC?

Many would-be skiers believe that their Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC) is all they need to cover them in case of an accident on the slopes. That's not really the case. A GHIC is certainly a useful document to have. It's free to get a GHIC and it gives you access to medically necessary healthcare while you're in the EU and a few other countries participating in the scheme.

But, importantly, it does not offer cover for ski or mountain rescue, nor will it cover the cost of medical repatriation. In addition, a GHIC entitles you to the same level of medical treatment at the same cost that a local resident would need to pay in the country you're visiting. Many countries do not have an NHS equivalent, and so you may be expected to pay out of pocket anyway. As such, while a GHIC is certainly useful, it does not replace the need for travel insurance or ski insurance if you're planning on partaking in winter sports.

Ski insurance vs travel insurance vs GHIC

The table below shows the types of scenarios different ski insurance policies, travel insurance policies, and GHICs might cover. This table is not exhaustive and travel policies and ski insurance policies can differ in their offering, so it's worth checking what's included with your specific provider before you commit.

However, it gives you an idea of the types of scenarios that can pop up on holiday and whether you'd be adequately covered if they did and you chose not to take out ski insurance.

GHIC Travel Insurance  Ski insurance
Emergency health care as a result of a snowboarding on piste accident  tick cross tick
Emergency health care as a result of a skiing off piste accident (without a guide)  tick cross cross- unless it's specialist cover and specifically included.
Mountain rescue in the event of injury while snowboarding or skiing cross cross tick
Loss, theft or damage to hired or owned winter sports equipment cross cross  tick
Inability to partake in winter sports due to lack of snow and piste closures cross cross tick- usually available as an add-on.

As you can see, standard travel insurance is unlikely to cover any of the costs associated with winter sports, which is why it's worth opting for a ski insurance add-on (or a specialist ski insurance policy if you want to partake in more extreme activities and need additional cover).

What are some common ski insurance exclusions?

It's always worth reading the fine print before you take out a winter sports policy. All policies will come with exclusions and caveats. Here are some common limitations to be aware of before you take out a ski insurance policy.

Skiing or snow boarding under the influence of alcohol

Skiing under the influence is often illegal depending on where you are, and it can certainly invalidate your ski insurance policy. If you're planning on having a few alcoholic drinks while on the slopes, just bear in mind that your insurance is unlikely to cover you if you then go off for another ski stint and injure yourself or someone else. This is because of the potential impaired judgement and slower reaction times that result from drinking alcohol. To make sure you stay insured, it's best to leave the alcoholic drinks for the après-ski session when you've ditched the skis for the day.

Skiing without suitable equipment

Most ski insurance policies are only valid if you wear a helmet at all times while you're skiing. If you take your helmet off and suffer an accident, chances are your claim won't be valid.

Having the right equipment on is a great way to stay safe in general. For example, did you know that 2 in 3 skiers who were involved in a collision and didn't suffer an injury wore a helmet at the time? It's a win-win situation; keep your ski insurance valid and do your best to make sure you don't actually need to claim on it and ruin your holiday in the process.

Off-piste skiing

Off-piste skiing means you've chosen to leave the official pistes in the resort and ski down slopes not marked by trail poles or prepared for skiing. Off-piste slopes are typically not monitored either. This type of skiing can be much riskier than on piste skiing, although many more experienced skiers find it exciting.

You'll be skiing down unknown slopes and can face obstacles like cliffs and rocks you wouldn't face otherwise. These slopes tend to be more remote and there can be a greater risk of avalanches making potential rescue hard.

As such, many ski insurance policies don't cover off-piste skiing. Others may cover off-piste skiing if you are accompanied by a qualified guide from a recognised agency. If you're planning on partaking in this activity, make sure you're covered before you leave the earmarked slopes.

When should you buy ski insurance?

You should buy ski insurance when you would usually buy your travel insurance, i.e. ideally as soon as you've booked your trip. In fact, in many cases, you'll have the option to add ski insurance as part of your general travel insurance. Even if you're opting for a stand alone ski insurance policy, you should still buy it as soon as possible, because it'll essentially provide an enhanced travel policy and offer cover as soon as you purchase it.

Can you get ski insurance with pre-existing conditions?

You can usually get ski insurance even if you have pre-existing conditions. Many providers also cover pre-existing conditions as part of your ski insurance travel cover. The Post Office, for example, covers diabetes, asthma, and many heart conditions while you're on holiday. If you're unsure, you may need to ring your insurer and ask if you'd be covered.

To ensure you're covered, you'll typically need to declare any pre-existing conditions before you take out a policy. Your premiums may end up being a little higher, but the upshot is that you'll have appropriate cover in place while you're on holiday should anything happen.

How much does ski insurance cost?

The exact cost of your ski insurance will vary according to several factors such as:

  • The insurance provider you choose
  • Where you're planning on going
  • How long you're going for
  • Who you're going with
  • Whether you have any pre-existing conditions

When we searched for ski insurance policy quotes for a one week, January 2025 ski trip to Switzerland for a couple in their 30s with no pre-existing conditions, the cheapest quotes we found were around £30, while the most expensive quotes were more than £700.

We then tweaked our couple's information slightly, and disclosed high blood pressure as a pre-existing condition for one of the travellers. Everything else remained the same. Interestingly, the cheapest quotes were still about £30 but the most expensive ones were around £150. This discrepancy is possibly because there are less policies that offer cover for people with pre-existing conditions.

These price fluctuations show how important it is to get multiple quotes when you're shopping for any type of insurance. Of course, simply picking the cheapest policy isn't always the best choice. More expensive policies may offer more comprehensive cover, but it's up to you to decide how much you want to spend on insurance and how much cover you actually need.

Where to find ski insurance

When it comes to finding the right ski insurance, you should consider using a comparison website, such as Quotezone*. It allows you to easily compare the cost of numerous providers for the type of cover and destinations you are travelling to. One thing to consider before taking out a travel insurance policy with a comparison site, however, is that they are not always whole of market and so you could miss out on a better deal elsewhere.

If you're planning on partaking in more extreme sports and activities not typically covered by standard ski insurance, you might need to look into alternative providers that specialise in bespoke cover. An add-on style ski insurance cover as part of your travel insurance won't be appropriate in all cases, but it's a good starting point to begin exploring your options.


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