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No ski helmet may mean no insurance

IRISH insurers could soon be following the lead of a top UK insurance company which refuses to cover skiers who do not wear safety helmets.

The risks involved on the slopes was brought to the world's attention by the death of Liam Neeson's actress wife Natasha Richardson (45) in Canada in 2009.

Now, Essential Travel has said it won't pay out to clients who have had accidents when skiing without a helmet.

"Whilst it is true that a helmet does not reduce all sports injury, it seriously reduces the risk of potentially fatal injuries," said Stuart Bensusan,of Essential Travel.

For now, helmets aren't mandatory with Irish insurers, according to Ciaran Mulligan, joint MD of Blue Insurance, which sells policies under www.multitrip.com.


"It's not a requirement right now, but it's something we have looked at," said Mr Mulligan.

"We lead the way in the market, but it's not something we're doing this year. I can see it happening within the next year to 24 months."

He added: "The market is booming at the moment -- we've sold 13,000 new annual policies alone, and the ski option is popular as it costs just ¤7 or ¤8 extra on the policy."

Irish brain trauma expert Suvi Korpelainen has welcomed the rising sales of helmets among skiers.

The senior neuropsychologist with Headway Ireland added that that just because ski-related injuries are rare, it doesn't mean that people should ditch the idea of wearing a helmet.

"It is always worth trying to avoid sustaining a brain injury in the first place and a ski helmet will help reduce the impact and force on the head."