Almost a third of people (29%)* taking a ski or snowboarding holiday this year will do so without the right travel insurance putting themselves at risk of high medical bills if they have an accident or get injured on the slopes. With over a million Brits set to hit the slopes this coming season, this means that hundreds of thousands will set off without adequate cover and leave themselves vulnerable to significant treatment costs if they have an accident.
The new research has been launched as ABTA and the Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) are warning skiers and snowboarders about the dangers of travelling without adequate winter sports insurance. ABTA is also launching a new short video reminding holidaymakers to take out ski insurance.
Younger people most likely to travel uninsured
The under 35s, the group most likely to take a winter sports holiday, are also the least likely to take out winter sports insurance with a third (32%) travelling without a policy.
In general, this age group is the least likely to take out insurance for any type of holiday and ABTA research shows that one in five (19%) of 16-24 year olds and almost a quarter (23%) of 25-34 year olds think travel insurance is unnecessary, as they assume the UK Government will pay for their treatment if they fall ill overseas. In addition, a quarter (25%) of 16-24 year olds and 23% 25-34 year olds say they don’t need insurance in Europe when they have a European Health Insurance Card. Although useful to have, EHIC cards have their limitations and will not cover assistance on the slopes for example.
New skiers and lapsed skiers should prepare
ABTA research shows that 18% of people planning a winter holiday this year are considering a winter sports break, an increase from 10% in 2012, ABTA is warning new skiers who may not be aware of the need to ensure they have the right cover to check policies carefully.
A number of lapsed skiers are also expected to return to the slopes this year. This group is urged to check that their insurance is up to date and that it includes winter sports cover.
New and lapsed skiers should also ensure they physically prepare for their holiday, and can download ABTA’s ‘Get Fit For Ski’ leaflet for advice. Some ABTA Members also offer workshops for returning skiers to make sure they are fully confident when they get back on the slopes.
Lapland and festive breaks
Winter wonderland style breaks including trips to Lapland are very popular at this time of year with ABTA Members reporting a very strong demand for these holidays. Lapland holidays are particularly popular with families, many of whom get into the spirit of Christmas with a visit to see Santa Claus himself, as well as with couples looking to enjoy these magical and romantic settings.
People taking a winter wonderland break will often try activities including reindeer sleigh rides, snowmobiling and ice fishing that may not be covered by a standard travel insurance policy; they are advised to check their policy before they travel.
Mark Tanzer, ABTA Chief Executive said: “As temperatures drop and people start planning for their winter holidays, we urge them to obtain adequate travel insurance as part of these preparations. Winter holidays often include activities that may not be covered by the usual travel insurance policies and holidaymakers should make sure that they are covered for everything they plan to do.”
Martin Redmond from the Foreign Office’s Know Before You Go Team, said: “Whether you are an experienced skier or hitting the slopes for the first time, it is crucial to take out appropriate travel insurance. Those who don’t do so risk having to pay thousands of pounds in medical bills, so we urge British nationals going on a winter sports break to choose a policy that covers them for everything they want to do.
“The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) provides support for British nationals that get into difficulties overseas. However, we cannot pay medical bills if you are hospitalised and we can’t arrange to fly you home. So do your research, get covered and read the small print to help ensure your winter sports break is one to remember for the right reasons.”
ABTA has information and tips for holidaymakers at www.abta.com/skisafe
* Consumer research was conducted by Arkenford Ltd (www.arkenford.co.uk) who specialise in tourism and leisure market research. The ABTA Consumer Trends survey generated response from a nationally representative sample of 2001 consumers using an online research methodology and related to holiday booking habits in the 12 months to July 2014. Fieldwork was conducted in July 2014.