MILLIONS of people around the world regularly enjoy hitting the ski slopes, whether they are skiing or snowboarding. However, snow sports can be quite dangerous – particularly for relative newbies to the sport. In Australia, injury rates based on Victorian Ski Patrol reports were estimated to be between 1.5 and 3.9 injuries per 1000 visitor days. That might not seem too high, but the injuries can be quite serious and require advanced medical treatment a long way away from the slopes. It is therefore vital to have a good travel insurance policy which includes cover for snow sports, whether you are planning a domestic skiing trip to Falls Creek or an international getaway to the French Alps. An accident on the slopes can quickly upend your holiday and put you in a world of financial pain if you are not properly covered.
What is Ski Cover insurance?
Ski Cover insurance is included in some international and domestic travel insurance policies or can alternatively be added to many policies for an additional cost. Ski Cover can include overseas medical and hospital expenses should you get sick or be injured during an international skiing trip, as well as personal liability cover if you are held legally liable for accidentally injuring someone else or damaging someone else’s property during your trip.
Ski Cover also generally includes protection for your personal or hired snow sports equipment if it is lost, stolen or damaged during a snow holiday. Some insurance may even include payment for the unused pro-rata value of lift passes, equipment hire and lessons should you become ill or injured and be unable to complete your trip as planned. Ski Cover can be listed under a range of names in different travel insurance policies, including ski insurance, ski travel insurance, snow sports insurance or travel insurance for snow sports.
Why is Ski Cover insurance important?
The risk of injury with snow sports is high and even more confident and experienced skiers and snowboarders can find themselves in accidents. Inexperienced skiers are the biggest risk on the slopes and can be not only a danger to themselves but also more experienced skiers who can get caught up in collisions. Being an outdoor sport, skiers and snowboarders are also at the mercy of nature and often unpredictable conditions. The remote locations of most ski resorts around the world also mean there are limited medical facilities available nearby. Most skiers who suffer serious injuries or illness will need to be transported a significant distance to a hospital in the nearest major city or town. Medical transport costs in these circumstances can be very high.
Best Ski Insurance
When comparing Ski Cover insurance, be careful to look for the best ski insurance rather than the cheapest insurance. Some policies will have a lot more inclusions than others and some will have higher limits on covered items than others. It is better to be safe than sorry and make sure you are covered for any issues, injury or illness that may arise during your snow trip.
What are the top skiing and snowboarding injuries?
The major causes of downhill skiing injuries are individual falls and collisions with other objects or people. The most common injuries as a result of skiing accidents are fractures and breaks of bones. However, joint dislocations and sprains, as well as head injuries, are also regular occurrences on the slopes. Bindings on skis and snowboards are designed to release in an accident, but they do not always work as well as they should. This can result in serious lower limb injuries including leg fractures and knee injuries. Knee injuries account for up to one in four skiing injuries, with the ACL and MCL ligaments often most affected.
Given the length of skis, they can act as a lever and force the knee to twist, inflicting serious damage. Shoulder dislocations and broken collarbones can also occur as a result of falls and collisions, while skiing poses a major risk of injury to the head. Dedicated ski helmets should be warn at all times to reduce the risk of head injuries like concussion and whiplash.
Ski Cover Equipment Insurance
Buying your own skiing or snowboarding gear is generally not cheap, but many people prefer to use their own gear over hiring equipment. Ski Cover can include coverage – up to certain limits – for personal equipment such as skis, poles and snowboards in the event that these items are lost, stolen or damaged during your ski holiday. If you are taking a flight to your skiing destination, this can also be handy for any loss or damage of the equipment during transit. If you are hiring ski equipment, some policies will also cover you in the event your hire gear is lost, damaged or stolen. The place of hire will often have their own insurance on their equipment, but will still charge you an excess if it is not returned or damaged upon return.
What other activities can snow sports insurance include?
Ski Cover or snow sports insurance can include coverage for a range of winter sports that are not only limited to standard skiing and snowboarding. Some policies will also provide coverage for big foot skiing, cat skiing, cross-country skiing, glacier skiing, heli-skiing, ice hockey, ice skating, lugeing, mono skiing, snowmobiling and tobogganing. However, coverage is generally limited to amateur and recreational snow sports and not any professional competition or racing. You must also follow local advice and warnings at all times to ensure coverage.
Ski Cover in the event of bad weather
Some Ski Cover insurance policies will provide cover in the event of bad weather, avalanches or piste closures. Piste closure can provide coverage if there if not enough snow, bad weather or power failure at a pre-booked holiday resort. Some ski cover insurance plans will also provide coverage for extra travel and accommodation expenses in the event of a significant delay to travel plans due to an avalanche or bad weather.
Skiing vs Snowboarding
For newcomers to snow sports, the big dilemma is often whether to take up skiing or snowboarding. Snowboarding has gained significant popularity this century, statistics from the United States show that participation numbers for skiing remain about twice as high as snowboarding. The general consensus is that it is easier to pick up skiing for beginners but it is then harder to make significant progress in the sport. Getting the basics of snowboarding is harder for most people, but once you can work through that you can pick up more advanced snowboarding moves more easily. Ultimately, the decision comes down to personal preference. Beginners in either skiing or snowboarding should consider taking professional lessons to fast-track their progression. Advanced lessons for those who already have the basics under control can also be highly beneficial.
Best skiing in Australia
It might not rank highly by world standards, but Australia still has some solid skiing over the winter months in the mountains of New South Wales and Victoria. Perisher Ski Resort in the Kosciuszko National Park is not only the largest snow resort in Australia but also the biggest in the Southern Hemisphere, made up of four linked resorts in one. Located about six hours drive from either Sydney or Melbourne, Perisher has 47 lifts and a massive 1,245 hectares of skiable terrain. There are plenty of easy runs for beginners, as well as difficult steep runs for those who are more advanced in their skiing journey. Mount Hotham, which markets itself as the ‘Powder Capital of Australia’, is located about 4.5 hours drive from Melbourne and offers 320 hectares of ski terrain. It is the only resort in the Southern Hemisphere where the village is located on top of the mountain, providing stunning views in-between ski runs.
Thredbo in New South Wales boasts the five longest ski runs in Australia, as well as the highest vertical drop in Australia for those looking for a challenge. Falls Creek in Victoria is a top option for intermediate skiers and has plenty of variety to keep you from getting bored with a whopping 92 ski runs. Mount Buller gets top points for accessibility, being just a three-hour drive from Melbourne.
When is ski season in Australia?
The ski season in most of Australia’s major ski resorts generally runs from around mid-June to late-September or early October each year.
Best skiing in New Zealand
New Zealand has long been a popular destination for Australian and international snow sport fanatics and offers some incredible ski resorts. The mountains around Queenstown on the South Island are particularly popular and are easily accessible, with most being less than an hour’s drive from Queenstown Airport. Popular ski resorts around Queenstown include Cardrona, Treble Cone, Coronet Peak and Remarkables. The mountains around Christchurch are also popular. Mount Hutt, about a 1.5 hour drive from Christchurch, is the South Island’s highest mountain at 2190m (7185ft) above sea level and offers pristine snow conditions. Broken River, Craigieburn Valley and Mount Olympus are other popular ski resorts around Christchurch, but the latter two should only be tackled by more advanced skiers and snowboarders. If you are planning a skiing or snowboarding trip to New Zealand, don’t forget to ensure you have Ski Cover as part of your international travel insurance.
When is ski season in New Zealand?
The ski season for mountains around Queenstown generally runs from mid-June to late-September or early-to-mid October. Some of the mountains around Christchurch has a slightly later and shorter ski season than Queenstown.
Best skiing in the world
The world-renowned Whistler Mountain is the largest winter sports area in North America and is widely recognised as one of the top ski resorts in the world. Whistler offers over 200 runs via 37 lifts and some stunning views that stretch to the Pacific Ocean. The French Alps and the Swiss Alps are Europe’s most popular skiing regions on huge mountains.
In the United States, the state of Colorado boasts a range of popular and prestigious ski resorts including Vail Mountain and Aspen. Japan also offers some world-class skiing and is a popular destination within Asia.
Make sure you are properly insured with top Ski Cover if you are planning a trip to one of these international destinations.
The best year-round ski resorts
While many mountains around the world only have ski lifts in operation for a three to five months a year, there are a few select places which offer year-round thrills on the slopes.
The ski village of Zermatt in Switzerland markets itself as a destination to enjoy “mountain romance 365 days a year” on the Theodul glacier. The area boasts 21km of glaciated terrain, as well as 6km of ski runs on the connected Plateau Rosà glacier just over the border in Cervinia, Italy. Together the two glaciers make up the Matterhorn Ski Paradise, a massive area that includes 360km of piste and off-piste skiing terrain and features a total of 54 lifts and 148 slopes. The highest point in the international ski area is 3,899m (12,792ft) above sea level, making it the highest ski area in the Alps.
Austria offers year-round skiing at the Hintertux Glacier, which is set at altitudes of up to 3,250m (10,663ft). Even in summer, the Hintertux Glacier boasts 20km of ski slopes for those seeking year-round fun.
Canada is also poised to join the year-round skiing fraternity, with a planned ski resort on the Valemount Glacier near Jasper National Park.The area reaches elevation of approximately 3,000m (9,843ft).
The best Powder Ski resorts in the world
Powder Snow – the fresh soft and fluffy stuff – is referred to as the “sweetest type of snow there is”. It is defined as loose, dry, untouched and newly-fallen snow that is in tiny flakes and forms a smooth and soft surface on mountains. Japan is widely regarded as having some of the best Powder Snow skiing in the world. More specifically, the Japanese island of Hokkaido is singled out by regular Powder Snow chasers as the go-to destination.
The Niseko Ski Resort located in the Niseko United Ski area on Hokkaido is Japan’s No.1 snow resort. It averages around 15m (49ft) of snow each season and features 30 lifts and 3 Gondolas. The ski season runs from December to April and the resort is ideal for beginner’s right up to experts.
Ski Insurance with Covid cover
If you are planning an international skiing trip in the current climate, it is worth looking for Ski Cover insurance which also includes coverage for Covid-19. Contracting Covid-19 while overseas on a skiing trip could cause some headaches for your travel plans. Alternatively, catching Covid-19 before you leave for your skiing trip could see you lose a significant amount of money on pre-booked travel.
Some insurers offer limited cover for Covid-19 in addition to offering Ski Cover insurance.
Covid-19 insurance can provide coverage for medical, quarantine and cancellation costs if you test positive to Covid-19 before or during a trip.
What equipment is needed for skiing?
Most ski-resorts offer on-mountain equipment hire if you do not have your own gear.
If you are going skiing, you will need ski boots, skis, poles and a helmet. For snowboarding, you will need snowboarding boots, a snowboard, a helmet and potentially wrist guards.
Having some good quality and warm snow clothing – which can also be hired if required – and snow goggles and gloves are also essential. Skiing and snowboarding can also be thirsty business, so make sure take a drink bottle with you as well.
Sunscreen is important when skiing
Snow sport activities such as skiing and snowboarding pose a high risk of sunburn and skin damage. The elevation of ski areas means they record more UV radiation and snow is also highly reflective of UV radiation. This means you can be sunburnt even on cold and cloudy days. It is recommended that those heading to the ski slopes apply sunscreen of SPF30 rating or higher to any exposed skin about 20 minutes before going outside and then reapply every two hours thereafter to minimise the risk of severe skin damage and sunburn. It is also important to apply lip balm to your lips to keep them hydrated, healthy and protected from the sun while skiing. Look for lip balm with an SPF25 rating or higher.
How to protect your eyes while skiing
Snow goggles will not only protect your eyes from airborne snow and other hazards but they will also protect them from the sun. Because of the reflective nature of snow, it is essential to have a good quality pair of snow goggles. Due to hygienic reasons, some ski equipment rental shops do not hire out snow goggles, so it is best to buy you own before you take to the slopes. A good pair of snow goggles can be purchased for between $50 and $100.
Most good snow goggles offer anti-fog coating and 100% UV protection. Many also come with two interchangeable lenses – one for clear and sunny conditions and another for more overcast and difficult-to-see situations.
How to dress for the slopes
Layer up. It can be very cold out on the slopes, especially when windy, but you may also find you work up a sweat on a mild and still day when the sun comes out. For the colder days, you will want thermal long underwear in the form of a top and pants, as well as perhaps a light fleece jumper. On your outer layer, most people wear a waterproof ski or snowboard jacket and pants, as well as a helmet, gloves and snow goggles. Some people will also wear a neck gaiter to keep their neck and chin warm in chilly conditions. It is also worth investing in some good ski or snowboard socks to keep your feet warm and dry.
Does ski equipment need servicing?
Yes, ski equipment requires regular maintenance to ensure proper performance.
As a general rule, skis should be tuned about every 20 days of use. The edges of skis and snowboards need be checked to make sure they remain fairly sharp at all times to ensure ease of turning and stopping. Both skis and snowboards also need to be waxed on a regular basis. If the base of the skis or snowboard is drying out and no longer looking bright and shiny – or if more snow is sticking to the bottom – it is a good indication that they may need a wax. It is possible to service and wax your own equipment, but many people instead take their gear to a ski and snowboard maintenance and repair store.