24 Nov

Over 55s are least likely to check they have winter sports insurance

New research from ABTA* shows that winter sports holidaymakers over the age of 55 are least likely to check whether they have taken out appropriate insurance for the activities they are undertaking, including skiing and snowboarding.

Well over a third of people (38%) over the age of 55 who take winter sports holidays admit they never check that they are covered for winter sports, significantly above the average of 29%. On the other hand, younger generations take most care with their winter sports holiday cover, with only one in seven (14%) 18 to 24 year olds saying that they never check if they have the right insurance.

With almost three in ten people who take winter sports holidays admitting that they never check if they have the correct cover, this leaves thousands of British skiers and snowboarders at risk of enjoying the slopes without proper insurance. 

As 1.75 million (3.4%) Brits prepare to head off on snow sports holidays this winter**, ABTA is encouraging Brits of all ages to stay safe on the slopes and to make sure they have appropriate winter sports insurance. 

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) reported 118 hospitalisations and 58 British deaths from skiing and snowboarding holidays between 2012 and 2016, with thousands more having suffered injuries both on- and off-piste[i].

Winter sports holidays have experienced a particular growth in popularity among 55 and 64 year olds. ABTA’s research shows that 238,000 people in this age range reported taking a ski or snowboarding trip last year – double the number that said they took this type of holiday the previous winter season.

Winter sports could be set to experience an even greater surge in interest this coming 2017/18 season due to the fast approaching Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea. The Games take place from the 9th to the 25th February 2018 and Team GB is expecting this to be the most successful Olympic Winter Games yet.[ii]

To help ski and snowboarders be prepared for their breaks, ABTA has teamed up with the FCO and Ski Club to provide helpful advice, from pre-departure to après ski. 

Nikki White, Director of Destinations and Sustainability, ABTA said:

“Good preparation is the key to a successful ski holiday.

“With so many Brits looking to hit the slopes this winter it’s important they get ski ready in order to be ski safe – including getting the right equipment, making sure they are physically fit and that they have the necessary insurance cover.

“Many holidaymakers wrongly assume they're automatically covered for winter sports as part of their travel insurance – but it is often not the case, meaning thousands of people could be heading to the slopes without any cover. It is a costly business if you have an accident on the slopes and don’t have the right insurance to cover your medical bills. We advise people of all ages to check that they are covered for everything they plan to do and have the right preparations in place to help them enjoy their time on the slopes.” 

Philippa Makepeace, Head of Consular Assistance, Foreign and Commonwealth Office, said:

“As the ski season gets under way, we encourage anybody heading for the slopes to make sure that they are well prepared so they have a safe and enjoyable holiday. ABTA’s research suggests that British Nationals don’t always check they’ve taken the right insurance before they travel. We’d encourage everyone who is travelling to take just a few minutes to check that they are covered for all the activities they have planned and any medical conditions have been declared. This small step can help ensure that you get the support you need should anything go wrong, and avoid potentially huge costs if you are not appropriately covered. Please #SkiSafe this winter.”

Supporting ABTA’s Ski Safe campaign, The Ski Club has provided the following advice on helmet safety this winter:

Wearing a helmet is a personal choice but more people are choosing to wear them than ever. When buying a helmet, it is important to check that it meets safety standards for snowsports, look out for CEN1077, F2040 and Snell RS-98 stickers to ensure they are up to the task.”

When booking your holiday, look out for the ABTA logo. By booking with an ABTA member you can travel with confidence and access a range of support, protection and expertise should you need it.

ABTA’s top tips for having a safe holiday in the snow

  1. Make sure your insurance covers the activities you want to do. Many policies will not cover damage to rental equipment or skiing off-piste without a guide, and many policies require you to wear a helmet at all times.
  2. Take a valid European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) if you’re travelling within Europe. If you have an accident or become ill your EHIC will allow you to receive state-provided medical healthcare at the same rate as a citizen of that country. However, you will still need to take out travel insurance, as an EHIC won’t cover all your medical costs, private treatment or return to the UK. Apply for your free EHIC now at: www.nhs.uk/ehic.
  3. Get fit so you can enjoy your holiday. If you’re not physically prepared you’re more likely to injure yourself. Warm up and do stretches before and after any activities. 
  4. Choose the right route/pistes. It is important to be aware of how pistes are classified to indicate their difficulty. Know your limits and don’t attempt slopes beyond your level of ability.
  5. Remember, many insurance policies require you to wear a helmet on the slopes regardless of the local legal requirements. Visit www.skiclub.co.uk for more information, advice and tips.
  6. Don’t head off-piste without being fully prepared. Many insurance policies won’t cover you for damage to rental equipment or skiing off-piste without a guide. So make sure you check your policy.
  7. Be avalanche aware. Snow reports, weather forecasts and avalanche risk levels are available in resort at the lift stations and at www.skiclub.co.uk.
  8. The sun is much stronger at altitude so appropriate strength sun cream should be worn along with ski goggles or sunglasses which offer 100% UV protection. 
  9. Know your limits. Alcohol affects your resistance and awareness of the cold, and also impairs your judgment, co-ordination and reaction time. Drinking alcohol at altitude will affect you more quickly and your insurance cover may not be valid if you injure yourself or others whilst intoxicated.

Visit abta.com/skisafe for more advice on how to stay safe in the snow.

For information about how the FCO can help British Nationals abroad visit: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/support-for-british-nationals-abroad-a-guide 

Notes to editors

About the research:

*All figures which relate to winter health insurance, are from YouGov Plc.  Total sample size was 2043 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 5th and 8th May 2017.  The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 18+).

**Figures relating to winter holiday trends are from Arkenford Ltd (www.arkenford.co.uk) who specialise in leisure and tourism market research. The ABTA Consumer Trends survey generated responses from a nationally representative sample of 2000 consumers using an online research methodology and related to holiday booking habits in the 12 months to August 2017. Fieldwork was conducted in August 2017.