If you’re one of the 400,000-plus* Australians heading for a New Zealand ski adventure this winter, chances are you’ve given little thought to the reality of accidents or injuries.
The majority of snow-sport injuries in New Zealand last year occurred due to falls (70 per cent), followed by collisions (10 per cent), lift-related accidents (five per cent) and equipment failure (five per cent)**.
Overseas ski trips – where ‘fun’ and ‘danger’ go hand in hand – require highly tailored insurance cover (check out our New Zealand travel insurance guide before getting on the plane), with plenty of attention paid to extras. If you’re unlucky and have a serious injury or illness while on only a basic policy, you’ll likely have a giant hole in your back pocket when you get home, says Grant Waldeck, spokesperson at comparethemarket.com.au.
“We’re surprised at how little attention people give to their travel insurance on snow holidays. Travel policies won’t cover skiers and snowboarders for many of the common risks they take, such as skiing under the influence of alcohol or snowboarding in an organised race.”
Grant advises those heading to the New Zealand snow to invest a few minutes to compare travel insurance policies, choose the right one, and always read the product disclosure statement. “Different policies have different options and levels of cover. What’s covered in one may not be covered in the other. The best way to do your research is through an insurance comparison service such as comparethemarket.com.au, which enables you to compare up to 26 travel insurance providers in two easy steps.”
Grant reveals 7 risks you need to understand before seeking travel insurance:
- Think you’re covered for the snow? If you have a basic travel insurance policy, you may not be covered for snow sports and may need to purchase it as an ‘extra’.
- You could carry the full risk if you ski off piste. Many experienced skiers and snowboarders like to test their skills outside of marked ski runs, but if you have an accident in the process, it’s possible your policy won’t pay out.
- Getting competitive can come at a cost. Think you’re a good enough skier to compete? You better be sure, because an impromptu decision to enter any type of competition might result in you paying for all costs personally in the event of an injury.
- Schnapps may keep you warm – but will leave you uncovered! Spent too long at the mountain-top ice bar before skiing down? A few too many Schnapps can often see us take greater risks on the slopes. But be warned: travel insurers won’t cover you for incidents while you’re under the influence of alcohol. And you can’t choose this as a policy extra!
- Anything with a motor needs its own cover. Just skied into a parked car? Your travel insurance with ‘skiing’ extra should have you covered. Drove a snowmobile into a parked car? Any resulting damage won’t be covered – although your medical costs should be. Travel insurance doesn’t cover damage to property by motorised vehicles, which will require their own insurance (at time of hire).
- High-risk roads come without a safety net. Even when you do have vehicle insurance, it is unlikely to provide cover on ‘high risk’ roads beyond the snow line – these are usually specified by the insurer. Although your travel insurance may cover your medical costs if you have an injury on these roads. It’s best if you take public transport or an organised bus trip when venturing on uninsured zones.
- Get cover as soon as you book. It’s a good idea to take out travel insurance as soon as you pay for your airfare, accommodation and other major costs. If an injury or illness (not pre-existing) prevents you from taking your holiday, your policy is likely to reimburse these costs.
** ACC: Sport Smart 10 Point Plan