The arrival of winter sees many people heading to the mountains for a thrill in the chill.
High atop the slopes of the mountain, avid snowboarders are getting ready… Ready to hurtle down the slopes, experiencing the adrenaline rush of jumping, carving, and shredding their way through the beautiful white powder.
But sadly, with this rush comes the risk of injury.
More often than not, snowboarding injuries are due to inexperience. Going too fast, losing control and colliding with other snowboarders. Injuries also occur whilst off-piste snowboarding and due to extreme weather conditions.
But are all of these injuries avoidable?
No. Snowboarding is an inherently risky sport. That’s why it’s important to find out if your health insurance plan covers injuries or accidents that occur whilst on the slopes.
In this article, we investigate whether a group health insurance will cover a snowboarding accident.
What Is Group Health Insurance?
As the name implies, group health insurance provides coverage to a group of people.
Usually, this group of people are members of organizations, unions, or professional groups. Only groups can purchase group health insurance packages and employers often offer them to employees in compliance with the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
Employers with at least 50 or more full-time employees are required to offer health benefits to employees. if they don’t, they face a hefty financial penalty!
Many businesses have therefore benefited tremendously from group health insurance plans. These plans are often more affordable and provide significant tax benefits.
Employee-provided health insurance is also one of the workplace benefits employees are most interested in. This helps with talent recruitment and retention, says Taylors Benefits Insurance, a reputable insurance company.
A qualified group health insurance plan should provide essential benefits like outpatient care, in-patient care, pediatric care, emergency care & emergency room visits, prescription drug benefits, and so on.
Group Health Insurance And Snowboarding Accidents
Typically, standard health insurance plans cover sports-related injuries…
Especially if the sport isn’t considered hazardous and the individual isn’t participating in a professional manner.
However, each insurance company has its own way of classifying dangerous or hazardous activities. You should take time to read the policy documents of your health insurance plan to know the full coverage and exemptions (however boring this may be!).
Extreme sports such as bobsleighing, luge, mountaineering, skeleton, scuba diving, canyoning, cave diving, white water rafting, paragliding, and so on are usually not covered by standard health insurance packages.
So, whether your group health insurance package covers snowboarding accidents depends on whether your insurer considers snowboarding an extreme sport or not.
Note: While snowboarding may or may not be covered by your insurer, off-piste snowboarding is almost certain to be exempted.
Off-piste snowboarding involves snowboarding on unregulated and un-groomed trails. These trails are often outside the care of resorts. Regular snowboarding is done on ‘piste’ or groomed trails. These have been smoothed and checked for hazards… making them safer for snowboarding and skiing.
But when you go off-piste, you are basically in the wild (especially if you head to the backcountry). Why is this riskier?
- It’s difficult to know how deep the snow is
- Rock and cliff edges aren’t as visible
- t’s more difficult for help to reach you in case of emergency.
So, while some insurance companies may cover snowboarding accidents, coverage often won’t extend to off-piste snowboarding.
To be sure of what your health insurance plan covers or not, consult your policy document. If your healthcare insurance doesn’t cover snowboarding, you should consider getting additional coverage before you go snowboarding!
Safety Tips For Snowboarding
Anyone – beginner or experienced – can get injured on the trails. The key to reducing the risk of injuries is to follow some core safety tips. Below are some ways to stay safe on the slopes… obviously whilst still having loads of fun!
1. Don't Go Alone
The buddy system is highly recommended in snowboarding.
Always ensure you are in the company of at least one person. Don’t stray too far from your ‘buddy’, especially in deeper snow!
The reason for this is to ensure someone can help you or call for help in case of any emergencies.
2. Wear Properly Fitted Protective Gear
Love them or hate them… One of the most important pieces of protective gear in snowboarding is a helmet.
Serious head injuries can happen if you hit your head against a rock or other object without protection.
It’s also important that your helmet is specifically designed for snowboarding. Some people are wearing bicycle helmets or other non-snowboarding helmets to save money. Doing this is potentially very dangerous!
Other protective gear includes elbow and knee pads, wrist guards and goggles. I would also highly recommend some impact shorts!
3. Take Some Lessons
Take time to learn proper snowboarding techniques from a qualified instructor. Even experienced snowboarders can benefit from a refresher course once in a while.
4. Warm Up Before Snowboarding
Warming up before snowboarding can help loosen your muscles and reduce the risk of injury.
Cold weather tends to make muscles tighter and more prone to injury. Use these snowboard stretches to combat this.
You may also be able to react faster if you warm up before getting on the trails