Credit crunch squeezed snowboarders who plan to not buy travel insurance to cut costs could be putting themselves at massive risk if colossal hospital bills if the worst was to happen on the slopes. Overseas medical expenses have rocketing this year as a result of the sterling’s slump in value. According to Post Office Travel Insurance data, medical expenses make up an estimated 72% of ski holiday insurance claim costs. Yet almost a quarter of people (23%) are considering going on holiday this year without travel insurance in order to save money.
Paying out for medical costs with no insurance has never been cheap, but the weaker pound means that the relative cost of hospital treatment abroad can be potentially much higher. Medical costs in popular eurozone snowboarding destinations such as France, Italy and Austria could be around 18% higher than this time last year. Snowboard holidays to Aspen or Vail in US are looking at a massive 29% hikes. ”
Steve Jewitt-Fleet of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office’s ‘Know Before You Go’ campaign, said: “The risks involved in winter sports holidays mean it is essential that slope-lovers are properly prepared before traveling. The most important thing is to take out fully comprehensive travel insurance and to read the small print of your policy, so you know what you’re covered for. If you’re not properly insured and have a serious accident, you or your family could be left picking up a huge medical bill.”
In addition to travel insurance, it’s essential that people carry a valid European Health Insurance Card (EHIC), which offers free or reduced cost medical treatment in EU countries. However, the EHIC is not a substitute for travel insurance – it won’t cover costs such as mountain rescue, repatriation or lost baggage – so we urge people to ensure they are fully covered against all eventualities.”
Here are some claims that Post Office Travel Insurance is currently handling this ski season. Without comprehensive insurance, these customers would have no choice but to pick up the bill themselves:
Case 1 – France
A 50-year-old woman from Manchester suffered fractured leg bones and required repatriation from Val d’Isere with extra seats and a nurse escort.
Estimated cost of claim: £4,000
Case 2 – Germany
A 48-year-old woman from Ayrshire suffered leg injuries while skiing and had to be repatriated by stretcher from Munich.
Estimated cost of claim: £10,500
Case 3 – France
An 18-year-old man dislocated his hip and was repatriated from the Pyrenees to Humberside by stretcher for hospital admission.
Estimated cost of claim: £10,000
Case 4 – France
A 30-year-old man suffered a fractured thighbone and was repatriated with extra seats from Moutiers to Gwent.
Estimated cost of claim: £5,000
Case 5 – Italy
A 21-year-old man suffered a fractured leg and was repatriated by stretcher from Turin to Manchester for hospital admission.
Estimated cost of claim: £9,000
Foreign and Commonwealth Office advice to help you plan your skiing holiday:
It’s essential to take out travel insurance for any trip abroad, no matter how short your trip. If you’re going to be skiing or snowboarding, make sure your insurance policy covers these activities (before you head off on your holiday read the small print of your policy to check)
Remember, alcohol can affect you more quickly at high altitudes and most insurers won’t pay out if you injure yourself or others if you’ve been drinking alcohol
Make sure you use good quality equipment and protect yourself against injury. Know your own ability – it might not be a good idea to attempt a black run after two days on the beginner slopes!
Make photocopies of important documents (e.g. passport, insurance details, credit card number and cancellation details) and keep them separate from the originals – this makes getting replacements or finding contact numbers easier
If traveling in Europe, get a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC). This card entitles you to reduced cost or free emergency healthcare in most European countries. If you’ve already got an EHIC, check it’s still valid. Remember though, the EHIC is not a substitute for travel insurance – for example it will not cover the costs of you being rescued from the slopes – you must have both to be fully covered. You can apply for an EHIC at the Post Office, online at www.dh.gov.uk/travellers or by phone on 0845 606 2030 . (Be aware that the EHIC isn’t valid in Andorra, northern Cyprus, Monaco or The Vatican City)
Remember to take the contact details for your insurance company with you in order that you can contact them in the event of a medical emergency.