Thursday 8 December 2016

Ski season under way - but some neglect to get insurance

Jane O'Faherty

Published 15/10/2016 | 02:30

Paul Savage: 'There is better skiing equipment these days. A lot more people have helmets while they're skiing on the slopes. That has reduced traumatic head injuries somewhat' Photo: Westend61
Paul Savage: 'There is better skiing equipment these days. A lot more people have helmets while they're skiing on the slopes. That has reduced traumatic head injuries somewhat' Photo: Westend61

Travel insurance is falling in price, but some skiers may even forget to ensure that they are covered before hitting the slopes.

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An Irish skiing expert says more and more people choose to organise their own ski trips, but may think their European Health Card will cover all possible accidents on and off piste.

It comes as hordes of families and adventure seekers look for the best winter holiday deals as Christmas comes nearer.

Paul Savage, founder of Skiing.ie, said travel insurance was generally included in ski and snowboarding package holidays.

"A lot of times, it's built in by the tour operator. It can be seen as a discount to get people to get a package holiday," he said.

But he pointed out that some people can accidentally forgo cover when they organise each aspect of their trip.

"There are a lot of people who get the flights to Salzburg and get the train to the slopes and their accommodation," he said.

"It's very straightforward and very easy, and it is a good way of saving money. But then they may forget about insurance."

He also said that some holidaymakers can mistakenly believe that the E111 card will pay for any medical costs that they may incur when abroad.

"People may misunderstand what that might cover," he said.

"People might say, 'It'll be fine if I end up in hospital'.

"But there's also the chance they'll need to be airlifted with a helicopter to get to hospital. People might not think of that.

"A helicopter to be airlifted to hospital could cost between €3,000 or €6,000."

While he recognised that many services are covered by the E111 card, he said travellers should "definitely" take precautions. "If you present with a broken arm, you will get treatment in a European hospital," he said.

"But the card may not be enough to cover the recovery time."

But Mr Savage also stressed that people were more aware of possible dangers when skiing and were taking more precautions. "There is better skiing equipment these days," he said. "A lot more people have helmets while they're skiing on the slopes. That has reduced traumatic head injuries somewhat.

"There have also been some high-profile skiing accidents, like Michael Schumacher's for example."

And it isn't always the thrillseekers who find themselves in trouble high in the mountains either.

"A lot of accidents actually happen with skiers who are just beginning, who fall on very flat slopes," he said.

"It may happen that they are overly cautious or don't know the correct way to ski yet and are just learning."

Figures from the Central Statistics Office show that travel insurance was the only form of insurance that fell in price in September 2016, but only by just over 1pc.

Meanwhile, the Consumer Price Index also found that car insurance had gone up by over 25pc, while health insurance rose by almost 6pc.

Insurance concerned with a dwelling increased by around 9pc.

A recent study of insurance customers also revealed that 73pc of holidaymakers travel without insurance.

It also found that 25pc of people thought the European Health Card would provide all the coverage necessary when travelling abroad.

While the card entitles the holder to the same level of medical care they receive in their own country, it does not provide for repatriation, lost luggage, travel delays or missed departures.

Meanwhile, the survey by VHI also revealed that 82pc of those aged between 25 and 35 were more willing to take a "travel gamble".

Irish Independent

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