Make sure you get the right winter sports cover

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Skiing in the French and Swiss Alps is off to a fantastic start in 2013 but the high amount of snowfall has brought an increased risk of avalanche and official bodies are advising caution. There have already been two fatalities this season – a UK student died in a snowdrift and a teenager from Switzerland was killed by an avalanche.

But just how dangerous is skiing? Well, it’s a man made danger - nine out of ten avalanches are caused by skiers and snowboarders going onto unstable snow. Statistically, only between 2 and 3 people out of every 1,000 on the slopes will require medical treatment and death is even more rare, affecting only one person in 1.4 million. Nevertheless Essential Travel now only insure skiers who use helmets. How long till the others do the same?

Before buying specialised winter, or hazardous sports insurance, check that skiing is not already covered on any existing policies. The most important item on skiing insurance is emergency medical cover, including the cost of emergency airlift if necessary. The other items you want to look out for are cover for equipment rentals, lift passes and anything else that would be non-refundable should you have to cut your trip short or cancel. Lastly don't forget third party indemnity insurance in case you should injure another and be held responsible.

Also consider the type of skiing or snowboarding that you will be doing. While you may be covered for the basics, what about off-piste? This is likely to be an extra. For the more advanced, should you wish to enter a race or throw some shapes in a snow park, these are almost definitely not insured as standard and you are advised to contact your insurer beforehand.

Remember, the two main causes of ski accidents are alcohol and avalanches. The majority of avalanches happen near to pistes where inexperienced skiers may feel comfortable to venture and the majority of alcohol related accidents happen après-ski, on the way back to the resort. Complacency, it would seem, is the number one enemy in this most exciting of sports.


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