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Wednesday May 23, 2018 - Email this article to a friend

Britons are risking hefty bills by failing to take out adequate travel and ski insurance, according to new research. Some don't even bother.



ABTA, The Travel Association, says as many as two in five Britons went abroad without the right insurance in the past 12 months.

Despite the heightened risk of injury from snowsports, that includes skiers and snowboarders.

It is the same in the summer as people head to the mountains for the host of activities on offer in the summer months.

Some Brits admitted having no travel insurance at all.

Others took part in activities not covered by their policy or did not inform their insurers of a pre-existing medical condition.

Both can invalidate the insurance.

We think it's likely that most of us who take part in the relatively risky sport of skiing or snowboarding have some sort of snowsports cover.

Joanne McLelland injury December 2016Skiing can be risky




















The price of even the most basic treatment at a private medical centre in the Alps - not to mention the USA - will do serious damage to your credit card.

But it seems that some people take out medical cover but don't bother to insure for cancellation or delays.

Michael Pettifer of PlanetSKI partner MPI Brokers describes those who take out no or insufficient cover as ill-advised.

He quotes the example of a group of about 100 skiers who missed out on a long weekend ski trip to the Alps last winter when heavy snow in the UK and Europe forced the cancellation of their flight.

Warnings of travel chaosHeavy snow caused travel chaos last winter

















The airline reimbursed them for the cost of the cancelled flight but the tour operator they'd booked with was not liable to refund the cost of the holiday since the cancellation was outside its control - legally speaking a Force Majeure.

Michael PettiferMichael Pettifer of MPI Brokers
















"One of the skiers complained that she couldn't get her money back from her travel insurance," Michael Pettifer told us, "but she had bought an economy policy that didn't cover delays and cancellations.

"She was in breach of contract with the tour operator."

That's because if you book with a tour operator it's mandatory to take out the appropriate insurance.

This is what it says in Crystal Ski's terms and conditions:

  • Adequate and valid travel insurance for your chosen itinerary is compulsory for all travellers and it is a condition of accepting your booking that you agree you will have obtained adequate and valid travel insurance. We recommend you take out insurance as soon as your booking is confirmed. You are strongly advised to insure yourself against any possible risk that may occur and in particular to ensure that you have sufficient insurance in respect of dependent relatives and force majeure events.

ABTA says its research suggests that almost 10 million British holidaymakers travelled without the right insurance in the past 12 months.


  • More than one in five (22%) reported travelling on some holidays completely uninsured
  • One in four (27%) risked invalidating their insurance by not disclosing pre-existing medical conditions or by taking part in activities without checking they were covered under the policy.
  • The most common reason for not buying travel insurance was the mistaken belief that the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) would provide sufficient cover.
  • Almost one in three (29%) of those who didn't buy insurance said cost was a barrier.
  • Just over one in seven (15%) said they had travel insurance as part of their bank account.

Michael Pettifer told us that the EHIC card is important and will cover the bulk of medical costs in state-run hospitals in the countries that recognise it, but it's not enough on its own.

If you don't have insurance, you'll have to make up the shortfall, which can amount to 20% or 30% of the total bill.

EHIC does not cover the cost of private medical treatment and will not pay for medical repatriation if it's required, which could amount to several thousand pounds.

Snowboarding in FranceJames Timothy
















James Timothy was snowboarding in Tignes in France in March when he was taken ill.

He had emergency treatment for a blocked coronary artery and spent five days in hospital in Chambery, three of them in intensive care.

His EHIC card covered 80 per cent of all his hospital costs.

His insurance covered the rest.

In hospital in ChamberyJames Timothy in hospital in Chambery













The insurance also covered his "curtailment" costs, paying out almost £2,000 for a split-boarding off-piste holiday in Sainte-Foy that he'd been due to go on to from Tignes.

"I didn't take out the cheapest policy as it wasn't the cheapest holiday," he told PlanetSKI.

"It's just as well as it would have turned out to be a very expensive trip if I'd not got all the money back for the Sainte-Foy week.

"One of the cheaper policies would have paid out a maximum of £500 for curtailment so I'd have been considerably out of pocket."

Michael Pettifer says it's crucial that travellers choose a policy to suit their needs and the activities they plan to do.

Les2Alpes, FranceDownhill mountain biking - are you covered?
















If you going to compete in a ski race, go off-piste without a guide, or go downhill mountain biking this summer, you may not be covered and should check with your insurer.

And he warns that the travel insurance that comes included with some bank accounts is often basic and restrictive and may be limited to European destinations.

Ski Cross at The Brits 2018Ski Cross at The Brits - are you covered for racing?













ABTA's Chief Executive, Mark Tanzer, said every year people get into difficulty because of insufficient travel insurance.

"While many people are still choosing not to take out travel insurance at all, others are travelling unaware that their insurance policy is not protecting them as they expect," he said.

"While not declaring existing medical conditions or taking part in activities that aren't covered are easy mistakes to make, they can be very costly, leaving holidaymakers and their families with expensive medical bills which run into thousands of pounds.

"I would urge all holidaymakers to make sure they take out travel insurance and check that it covers their circumstances and holiday plans."

Chambery HospitalDon't end up in hospital abroad without insurance













For more tips on choosing the right travel insurance policy visit

See here for the main PlanetSKI news page with all the latest stories from the mountains.

For the Spirit of the Mountains - PlanetSKI: Number 1 for ski news

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