Snow travel insurance

Collage of a snowboarder absolutely shredding powder.

Keen to hit the slopes and carve up some fresh powder this snow season? Now that ski resorts are opening back up after the lockdowns rudely froze-over our winter getaway plans, heading to the snow might be number one on your priorities list. But what cover is available in the event that you or one of the crew come into contact with COVID-19?

If you’ve got all the gear, but no idea about how to protect yourself if something goes wrong up on the mountain, or even on your way there, then looking into snow travel insurance should be your first stop.

The basics of snow travel insurance: A snow travel insurance policy will usually cover your standard extreme sports, like skiing and snowboarding. However, off-piste or backcountry snow sports are often only covered when you’ve paid an extra premium, or you’re accompanied by a professional instructor.

A lot of providers will list snow travel insurance as an optional extra or add-on to an existing travel insurance policy, which covers things like medical expenses, cancellation costs, and luggage. It’s also really important to read the definition of snow sports in your policy’s product disclosure statement (PDS) to see what you’re actually covered for, as it can differ from provider to provider.

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What does snow travel insurance cover?

Collage of a shredding snowboarder on a pink background.

As you’re probably aware, trips to the snow aren’t always cheap. There’s the cost of equipment, lift passes, and accommodation – just to name a few. What happens if the ski resort loses power and you’re stuck at the bottom of the mountain? What about if you lose, misplace or get your lift passes stolen? Or worse, your equipment goes missing along the way? Luckily, many snow travel insurance policies can cover these kinds of situations, so you can get right back to enjoying your alpine adventures. 

Here’s a rundown of what you can expect from a typical snow travel insurance policy:

  • The loss, theft or breakage of your ski or snowboard equipment is usually covered with snow travel insurance, as well as the cost of alternative ski or snowboard hire.
  • If your prepaid lift pass is lost or stolen, or if you’re unable to use them due to illness or injury, snow travel insurance providers will often reimburse you for the unused portion. 
  • If the piste is closed for more than 24 hours due to a lack of snow, bad weather, or natural disasters, then a snow travel insurance policy can often cover alternative arrangements, or any expenses related to prepaid travel costs (including new lift passes).  
  • Most snow travel insurance policies will generally cover the cost of emergency evacuation from the snow fields. So your costs might be covered if you need to helicopter out after an avalanche, or you’re injured and require a visit to the hospital.

Does travel insurance cover skiing?

Most often, travel insurance doesn’t cover winter sports like skiing and snowboarding. Fortunately, a lot of providers will offer snow travel insurance as an optional-extra, like they often do with cruise insurance

But it’s important you have travel insurance supporting your snow cover. Travel insurance can cover many of the off-snow elements of your trip, like if you require medical attention due to illness, your luggage is lost or damaged in transit, your pre-booked accommodation is cancelled, or in the case of permanent disability or death.

Can I get snow and ski insurance with COVID-19 cover?

At this point in time, some destinations require proof of insurance for COVID-19 related medical expenses. Luckily there are a few options for travel insurance providers that do include this kind of cover, on top of offering snow travel insurance as an optional extra. 

However, in many cases you’ll only be covered for medical, quarantine, and cancellation costs if you, or someone in your party tests positive to the virus. Most policies won't cover cancellations that result from lockdowns and travel restrictions in Australia, or at your destination. 

A lot of destinations are listed still under the ‘Reconsider your need to travel’ or ‘Do Not Travel’ categories on Smartraveller because of the pandemic. It’s a good idea to check what the current advice is for your destination of choice, as some insurance providers won’t cover you for COVID-19 if you still choose to travel there.

What’s not covered by snow travel insurance?

Starry sky over Mt. Aoraki Reserve in New Zealand.

While snow travel insurance can look pretty comprehensive, there are a few important things to note when it comes to the conditions of your cover:

  • Most snow travel insurance companies won’t cover you under their policies if your claim relates to competing in professional events, like downhill racing or freestyling on the terrain park.
  • A lot of snow travel insurance policies also exclude heli-skiing, mountaineering, bobsleighing, and cross country skiing, due to their gnarlier-than-average factors. Always check the fine-print in your policy’s PDS to check if your preferred mode of thrill-seeking is covered.
  • It should go without saying, but most snow travel insurance policies don’t cover claims resulting from someone skiing under the influence of alcohol or drugs. So, no big benders at the Apres Ski bar!
  • For those who venture off the beaten path, preferring backcountry runs to the manicured hills of the ski resort: the majority of snow travel insurance providers state that if something goes wrong, you must be in the boundary of the ski resort and not off-piste in order to claim cover.

Important ski and snow features to look for in your policy

Collage of a rugged up couple looking a snowy travel destinations on a map.

While you’ll want insurance cover for your specialist ski and snowboarding equipment and insurance specific to your snow holiday like lift passes and blizzards, be sure you’re not trading these for other important features. Your policy should include:

  • General medical and dental expenses. You could have specific cover if you’re hurt while on the snow but your policy should also have cover for general medical and dental expenses in case you’re injured off the snow or require hospitalisation.
  • Luggage and personal belongings. Sure, your brand new, all-mountain shred sled should be protected from damage whilst in transit, but so should your general belongings like your cameras and clothing.
  • Cancellations. Anything can happen in the lead up to a holiday, so it’s always a good idea to get your insurance sorted as soon as you’ve booked your flights or prepaid your accommodation. That way, if anything happens you could be covered for any non-refundable deposits.
  • Delays. What about if your connecting flight from Paris to Switzerland has been delayed due to a strike? Travel insurance can help you cover the costs of any delays (generally within set time limits, otherwise it could be up to the travel service to cover it).
  • Accidental death or disability. Your snow policy should include cover in the event that you are permanently disabled or, in the absolute worst case scenario, die while you are overseas.
  • Rental car excess. If you’re going on a self-drive ski holiday, many travel insurance policies include rental car excess reduction cover. This means you don’t need to pay this to the car rental company if you get in an accident and need to claim on holiday rental car insurance.

Tips for buying snow travel insurance

A couple compares snow travel insurance policies on their laptop on the couch.

Tip 1 - Don’t wait until the last minute to book your travel insurance.

While there isn’t necessarily a price difference in booking it 10 minutes or 10 months in advance, you could be at a disadvantage if you rush your decision. Shopping around and comparing travel insurance policies instantly on Mozo could help to save you extra spending money for your trip.

Tip 2 - Don’t forget to tell the insurance company about any pre-existing medical conditions.

Always be upfront about any medical condition or injury that you are receiving treatment for. Often, you’ll be able to get extra insurance for many pre-existing conditions. Keeping your policy providers informed will help you get the right level of cover, saving you the extra pain of finding out your claim has been rejected after having emergency surgery.

Tip 3 - Don’t leave your skis or snowboard unattended.

While many snow travel insurance policies cover lost or stolen equipment, they won’t accept claims resulting from potentially avoidable scenarios, like leaving your skis unattended while you duck into the resort cafe for a hot chocolate.

Tip 4 - File a police report if your snow equipment does get lost or stolen.

For your claim to be successful, generally you’ll need to have filed a report with the police or with the resort security detailing what was stolen, when and where it was taken from and the value of the item. You'll need to be able to provide a copy of the report to the insurance provider, as well as receipts or other proof of ownership (like photos or warranties) when completing your claim.

Tip 5 - File any claims promptly on your return to Australia.

You’ll have a limited time to make any claim on your insurance once you are back home. Check your policy’s PDS to see what time frame they specify. Don’t delay in getting your receipts together or any other evidence you’ll need to lodge your claim.

Snow and snowsports travel insurance FAQs

Can I get family snow cover?

Yes, kids are usually covered for free with winter sports cover but you need to have them listed on the policy.

Can I get excess reduction cover for my ski or snowboard hire?

Yes, if you want to reduce the excess you can purchase excess reduction cover at an additional premium. It generally doesn’t come as part of a standard snow policy.

Can I get covered for Heliskiing?

Yes, you can get cover for this but you’ll generally need to purchase extra cover for heliskiing. Also you will likely have to pay a higher excess. There will be exclusions so be sure you read the insurance PDS before hitching that helicopter ride to the top of the peaks.

Can I ski or snowboard anywhere if I have specialist snow cover?

You will need to be within the ski resort area to be covered. Some policies allow for off piste skiing and snowboarding as long as you are in a patrolled area on groomed runs close to the resort or with a professional guide or instructor. If you are injured in an unpatrolled area your insurance will be invalid.

What if I do cross country skiing? Can I get cover?

Yes, some policies do include insurance cover for backcountry skiing as long as you are on marked trails.

I broke my arm 5 years ago, do I need to list this as a pre-existing condition?

Generally you only need to list conditions you are currently receiving treatment for or have received treatment for within a set timeframe. If you were still getting physio on your arm as a result of the break, this would be considered a pre-existing condition. With any prior medical conditions, it is extremely important you read the PDS and be upfront with the insurance provider when you are applying for snow cover.

Are there any special conditions for getting snow travel insurance?

Yes. Your journey must start and end in Australia and you must purchase your policy before you leave Australia. The exception to this is that some snow policies will allow you to purchase additional cover for heliskiing after your policy commences. You will need to be an Australian resident.

I’m a senior, can I get cover for skiing and snowboarding?

Yes, there are a number of insurance providers that will offer snow cover to seniors – you’ll just need to check the age restrictions within the policies. Always read the PDS to ensure you will be covered for any travel mishaps which may crop up on your trip.

Does ski insurance cover no snow?

Most snow travel insurance policies cover ski resort closure due to no snow. You may be eligible for alternative arrangements and a partial refund or replacement lift pass if the snow fields are closed for more than 24 hours.

Compare travel insurance policies - last updated 18 August 2022

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