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Why older winter holidaymakers need to think more closely about travel insurance

It is often assumed that you get wiser as you get older.  Surprisingly, that’s not actually the case when it comes to taking out travel insurance for a winter sports holiday – according to new research by ABTA.

In a recent survey carried out on behalf of ABTA (the UK’s largest travel association), holidaymakers over the age of 55 are least likely to check whether they have taken out appropriate insurance for the winter sports activities they are planning.

More than a third of people aged 55 and above admitted they never check if they are covered for winter sports. This is significantly above the national average of 29 per cent.

In stark contrast, younger holidaymakers take most care before enjoying a winter sports holiday – with only 14 per cent of people aged 18 to 24 never checking to see if they have the right insurance.

As someone who regularly deals with the impact of skiing accidents and winter sports injuries, these statistics came as something of a surprise. In fact, I was shocked by how unprepared some older holidaymakers are ahead of hitting the slopes.

Let’s face it, skiing and snowboarding are two of the most high-risk winter sports activities you can take part in – due largely to a combination of speed and relative inexperience from participants.

Unfortunately, this means that injuries are a common occurrence on the slopes. They can happen to anyone at any time. They also range in seriousness, from a badly sprained ankle or concussion to dislocated joints and broken arms or legs. In the worst-case scenario, potentially life-changing accidents and fatalities can occur.

As you get older, the likelihood of being involved in a skiing accident increases because your cognitive abilities decline, which can affect your balance, vision and ability to judge distances.

No matter how old you may be, the main focus for anyone heading off on a winter sports holiday is to have fun in the snow. But it makes sense to take precautions and check that your travel insurance is suitable for the activities that you’ll be enjoying as this will provide peace of mind should you cause or suffer an accident or injury on the slopes.

Why do you need travel insurance for a winter holiday?

In 2016, an estimated 238,000 UK residents aged between 55 and 64 enjoyed a skiing or snowboarding trip – double the number from the previous winter season. This increase is believed to be partly due to so-called ‘lapsed skiers’ returning to the slopes as the economy recovers.

Around 1.75 million Brits of all ages are expected to depart for a snow sports holiday of some kind this winter. With almost three in 10 of these people admitting that they never check to see if they have the correct insurance cover, thousands of British skiers and snowboarders could be at risk on the slopes.

According to the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), there were 118 reported hospitalisations and 58 British deaths from skiing and snowboarding holidays between 2012 and 2016. Thousands more people suffered injuries on and off piste.

Activities like snowboarding and skiing do carry a certain level of ‘ordinary’ risk. But if the negligence, reckless behaviour or dangerous conduct of another skier or a resort operator heightens that level of danger; it is possible to claim for compensation. The same principles would apply if you were injured taking part in alternative sports like paragliding or as a passenger on a snow mobile ride or Husky expedition.

Should you be the person who is at fault, someone could make a claim against you. This is the main reason why all winter sports enthusiasts should check to see that they have a suitable level of personal liability insurance before hitting the slopes. In most cases where a winter sports accident results in a compensation settlement, the negligent party’s insurance company will bear the expense.

How to protect yourself properly

Unfortunately, more than half of all holidaymakers who are planning to take part in a winter sports activity abroad do not fully understand why they need to buy a specialist travel insurance policy.

Basically, you should NEVER make assumptions about insurance cover – especially if you are a winter sports enthusiast.

When buying travel insurance, don’t just buy the cheapest or most basic package. Always take out an appropriate level of cover that suits your needs as this will help meet the costs should any medical expenses be incurred. Otherwise, you may not be covered in certain circumstances or only covered up to a certain amount.

Although a wide range of adventure sports are becoming more popular, these are not generally covered as standard in winter sports policies. By making sure your policy is the right fit for you and your holiday activities, you can hit the slopes and relax safe in the knowledge that you’re protected for every eventuality.

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