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What is classed as 'off-piste' skiing?
For the seasoned skier, the lure of the 'off piste' experience can be a powerful attraction. Before you dive off the beaten track however, here's the low down on what you need to know about off-piste ski insurance...
Firstly, it would be a good idea to clarify exactly what most travel insurance companies define as 'off-piste' skiing.
Simply put, skiing 'off piste' is skiing outside the marked boundaries laid down by the resort. While most standard winter sports insurance packages will include cover for 'off-piste' skiing, this does not mean that you will be automatically covered for any and all forms of skiing activity beyond the resort boundaries. High-risk winter sports taking place beyond the marked boundaries will logically require a higher level of cover. So, how do you choose the right level of cover..?
Getting and keeping valid insurance
Here are a few handy hints and considerations to help you choose the right level of cover and avoid invalidating any claims you may need to make.
#1 Consider the level of skiing risk
As mentioned, most standard winter sports insurance policies will not cover you for all off-piste skiing activities. If you plan on heli-skiing or ski mountaineering, you will more than likely need to invest in an extreme sports or adventure insurance. Also remember that being outside the UK, you may also be required to pay for an additional medical premium.
#2 Read up on local skiing regulations
Regardless of the level of risk your policy covers you for, where an activity directly contravenes local law, all levels of policies are rendered useless. For example, in most parts of North America, all forms of skiing activity off-piste are against the law. Consequences for breaching resort regulations can range from having your lift pass confiscated, to full-blown arrest, so make sure you swat up on local ski law!
#3 Don't ignore the weather
Paying attention to weather warnings is extremely important. Avalanche warning levels dictate whether or not you will be covered. Whereas under a standard winter sports insurance policy, you may have been covered for leisurely out-of-bounds skiing, under a red avalanche warning, this will no longer be the case.
#4 Use common sense!
Taking heed of local advice and resort instructions will greatly increase your level of safety. Very often, areas are marked as out of bounds due to specific hazards and ignoring such warnings could potentially invalidate your claim. Under most covering options, needless exposure to peril-except in the endeavour to save human life-may nullify your policy.
Pre-existing medical conditions
As with applying for any type of insurance policy, you always need to declare any pre-existing medical conditions you may have. Although declaring a pre-existing medical condition may significantly raise the price of your package, its vitally important, as failing to do so could jeopardise your chances should you need to make a claim.
Off piste ski insurance without a guide
If you plan to go off-piste without a guide, it's important to carefully examine a potential policy, as many companies will not cover you unless you are with a guide. Some companies will require you to purchase an extra add-on before you can ski without a guide.
*Price based on 1 adult aged 21 with no pre-existing medical conditions, travelling to Europe excl Spain/Cyprus/Malta/Turkey or Greece for 7 days with extra Winter Sports cover. Price correct as of April 2019.
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Holiday Extras is underwritten by Travel Insurance Facilities plc which is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. Registered address: 2nd Floor, 1 Tower View, Kings Hill, West Malling, Kent, ME19 4UY. Company number 03220410.