Ski holidays come with a whole set of unique experiences; hitting the slopes, taking in views from chair lifts, taking on new runs and of course, the après-ski scene.
Thousands of people take to the slopes during the winter - but it turns out that we could be making common mistakes that are actually putting us at risk.
In fact, a recent survey by Columbus Direct found that 30 per cent of its customers didn't fully understand what could void their insurance; even though it could be factors such as having a drink with lunch on the slopes, or trying your hand at off-piste.
But these could mean that, should you need to make a claim from your travel insurance, they may not pay out - leaving you out of pocket.
With nearly a quarter of skiers making a claim on winter sports insurance, it's important to know those key factors.
To give us a helping hand, Stuart Lloyd, Travel Insurance Expert at Columbus Direct has shared some top tips exclusively with Mirror Online to make sure you accidentally don't invalidate your insurance.
Check them out below...
- Book winter sports insurance as soon as you book your holiday
If you hold off booking and anything happens before the trip that stops you from going, you won't be covered. Have an annual policy? Get in touch to see if you can add winter sports cover.
- Make sure the policy covers your chosen activities
If you're planning to try out a wide array of activities, make sure you're covered for everything including skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing, cross country skiing or snowmobiling.
- Check for off-piste
Some insurers won't cover you for off-piste skiing, so make sure to read the fine print on your policy before you head off. There are some exceptions; for example, if you have a guide with you or you're still within the resort boundary, but confirm this with your provider before you travel.
- Check your altitude
A quick search for the resort map will let you know the highest altitude you could be skiing at - and some insurance policies do have altitude limitations so double check before you head off.
- Know your extras
Columbus policies provide cover for physio attention back in the UK if you're injured while skiing or boarding off-piste (within the resort boundaries). Other useful extras could include getting cover for ski equipment should you lose it off a chair lift, or break it!
- Check the local laws
47 percent of Brits surveyed admitted they don't familiarise themselves with local laws - but it could leave you out of pocket.
Different countries have different laws around helmet wearing and alcohol consumption for example, and most insurance policies will not pay out if you are breaking a local law.
For example, in most Austrian provinces, all children under the age of 15 must wear a helmet, which isn’t the case in France. With many successful claims reliant on following local laws, holidaymakers that fail to do so could be in for an expensive shock
- Lost lift passes
If your lift pass is misplaced or stolen, make sure you get a police report, as most insurers won't pay out without one.
- Obey local warnings
If the mountain is closed, or a run is out of action it’s for good reason – don’t risk invalidating your cover (or hurting yourself) by heading out anyway.
- Take your EHIC with you
Many people are confused about whether this still helps you if you need medical treatment in the EU. It does, and will continue to be valid until the end of 2020! It’s worth having both this and travel insurance to protect you on the slopes.
- Check date restrictions
Lack of snow can ruin a ski holiday, but is unfortunately common out of the peak months. Policies will often have a cut-off date they’ll cover to for piste closures, so check this clause, especially if you're planning to travel from mid to late April.
Stuart adds: "Any accidents while skiing have the potential to be even more costly than on your average holiday.
"Rescue from slopes, being hospitalised abroad or having to be flown home – these costs add up quickly!
"Although the temptation might be to rely on your EHIC, it’s vital you have the right insurance in place to cover you.
"For any families heading off to the slopes this half term, make sure you read the T&Cs in your policies and familiarise yourself with local laws that might impact any future claim you may have to make.
"For example, laws around helmet wearing can vary from country to country – however, we’d always recommend wearing a helmet, no matter what country you’re in. The simplest way to check T&Cs is to ring your insurer directly; a quick conversation could end up saving you tens of thousands and will allow you to ski with confidence."