Why is travel insurance for winter sports important?

Why do I need winter sports insurance?

If you’re planning to take part in any winter sports on your trip, you’ll need extra cover to insure you whilst you’re participating in winter sports activities. This extends the policy to cover you whilst you’re skiing or snowboarding – including emergency medical expenses cover if you suffer an injury. It also includes useful extras, like cover for your skiing or snowboarding equipment (whether it’s owned or hired), piste closure cover and more.

When should I purchase a winter sports policy?

If you want cover for a Single Trip, cancellation cover starts as soon as you buy your policy – so if you’ve already put a deposit on your ski holiday or paid for your flights or hotel, it makes sense to sort your travel insurance out right away. 


If you’re considering an Annual Multi-Trip policy to cover all your travel this year, then cancellation cover starts from the start date on your policy.  So if you’ve paid for your trip, enter the travel insurance policy start date as today to make sure your holiday is protected. 


Don’t forget, there’s a 14 day cooling off period from the date you receive your policy documentation – during which you can receive a full refund, provided you haven’t already travelled.

Who is eligible for winter sports travel insurance?

Residents of the UK aged up to 85 can be insured on a single trip basis.  The maximum age for Annual Multi-Trip cover is 75. 


You must have been a UK resident for at least 3 months and be purchasing cover whilst still in the UK (i.e. if you have already departed on your trip, you would not be able to purchase valid cover).

What will I be covered for?

Adding winter sports cover to your policy means you’ll be covered up to the limit specified on your policy for emergency medical expenses whilst skiing or snowboarding – that’s up to £15 million with our Gold cover to cover your treatment and repatriation back to the UK if needed. 


You’ll be covered to ski or snowboard both on and off-piste within resort boundaries.  You’ll also be insured to take part in over 20 other fun winter activities – such as skidooing*, cross country skiing, snow zorbing and more. Check out our policy wording for the full list. 


Your equipment will be covered for loss, damage or theft – including any you own or any you have hired. Your costs are covered if the pistes close, and if you’re ill and can’t ski, we’ll reimburse costs you’ve paid for your lift pass, kit hire and any snow school fees. 

 * No cover for Personal Liability or Personal Accident whilst participating in skidooing. This does not affect your cover for emergency medical expenses.

What winter sports are covered on my policy?

Where the appropriate additional premium has been paid for winter sports cover you will be covered for skiing and snowboarding as well as the following winter sports activities.


  • Air boarding
  • Big foot skiing
  • Cross country skiing (recognised paths)
  • Dry slope skiing/snowboarding
  • Glacier skiing/walking
  • Ice cricket *
  • Ice windsurfing *
  • Kick sledging
  • Langlauf
  • Mono-skiing
  • Nordic skiing (recognised paths)
  • Off-piste skiing/snowboarding (within resort boundaries)
  • Ski randonnee
  • Ski run walking
  • Ski skimming
  • Ski touring
  • Skidooing ‡*
  • Sledging
  • Snow blading
  • Snow shoeing
  • Snow tubing
  • Snow zorbing
  • Snowcat skiing (with a professional guide)
  • Snowmobiling ‡*
  • Tobogganing


‡ No cover for Personal Accident * no cover for Personal Liability


What will not be covered on my policy? 

As with all travel insurance policies, there are terms and conditions associated with your cover. The full details of your policy are provided in our policy wording, which can be viewed by clicking here


As well as listing what’s covered and what’s not, it will advise you what to do if you need to make a claim. For example, if your ski equipment is lost or stolen, it’s important to report it to the police within 48 hours and obtain a police report. So it’s worth referring to the policy wording before making a claim.

I already have travel insurance with Columbus, can I add winter sports to my policy?

Yes, contact our customer services team before you’re due to depart on your ski/ snowboarding trip and we’ll be able to provide you with a quote to add winter sports to your insurance policy.

Can I add extra cover to my winter sports policy?

You can change your level of insurance cover at any point up until you travel – so if Bronze cover doesn’t offer you enough cover for ski equipment, you might want to consider a Silver or Gold travel insurance policy. 


You can also add Search and Rescue cover to your policy, giving you cover in the event a search team needs to be sent out to retrieve you due to injury, adverse weather or safety conditions.


And we also offer a Winter Sports Equipment Top up to your insurance policy. If you have expensive equipment this increases your cover to £1,000 per person with an increased individual limit of up to £500 per single item. 


Search and Rescue cover and Winter Sports Equipment Top up cover are both available to include when you purchase your insurance policy online for a small additional fee. If you would like to include the cover on your existing policy, please contact our customer services team

Can I buy an annual winter sports policy?

Winter Sports cover can be added on to any of our Annual Multi-Trip policies and offers you 17 days cover for winter sports over the course of the year. It also covers your other trips up to a maximum duration of 60 days per trip. Choose from Bronze, Silver or Gold cover, and a range of useful add-ons including cover for your gadgets and an adventure pack which covers exciting activities for warmer climes – like kite surfing (also don’t forget all our policies cover 150 sports and activities as standard, free of charge).

How do I buy winter sports cover?

Click here for a quote and include Winter Sports cover at step 3 ‘Tailor your policy’. You will also have the opportunity to add Search and Rescue cover and Winter Sports Equipment Top up at the same stage of the quote journey. 

Does my EHIC / GHIC cover me for winter sports in Europe?

The European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) which will be replaced with a Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC) once your current EHIC card expires, currently allows UK residents to be treated in EU countries as well as Norway, Liechtenstein and Iceland, on the same terms as citizens of the country they are visiting.  It doesn’t cover the cost of repatriating you back to the UK airlifts off the mountainside. 


Not all countries included in the EHIC / GHIC agreement have totally free healthcare, so the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office have always advised that the EHIC / GHIC in no way replaces your travel insurance policy but it can help to reduce your costs.  

We will remove the excess payable on any medical claim where an EHIC / GHIC has been used.

What happens if the airline loses my Ski Equipment?

If your equipment is lost, stolen or damaged in transit you will need to notify the airline right away and obtain a property irregularity report. If you aren’t able to arrange one while you are at the airport, we ask you to obtain one within 7 days.

Keep all receipts for any equipment you have needed to hire to replace these temporarily whilst on your trip.


When you are back in the UK, contact our claims team here to make a claim for the loss of your equipment and for hiring the replacement items.

What happens if my Ski Equipment is lost, stolen or damaged?

You’re covered to hire replacements if your equipment is lost, stolen or damaged, or if it is delayed in transit by more than 12 hours on your outward journey from the UK. 


This is paid on a reimbursement basis once you are back in the UK. Please keep the rental receipts for the items you hire, and notify the police of any loss, burglary or theft within 48 hours – you’ll need to obtain a written police report.  


If the damage or loss occurred in transit, you will need to obtain a written carriers report within 7 days of the event (airlines call this a property irregularity report.  Then contact our claims team once you are back in the UK.

Is my equipment covered if left unattended outside a restaurant or bar?

We ask that you take reasonable care of your equipment (whether it’s owned by you or hired) which includes making sure it’s supervised and not left unattended.  Making use of ski racks outside resort bars and cafes is convenient, but items are left there at your own risk.


Note that owned winter sports equipment is not covered on a new for old basis and depreciation for older equipment is taken into account. We are also unable to cover equipment that has been damaged whilst in use. 

Am I covered for off piste and without a guide?

You’ll be covered for skiing and snowboarding both on and off piste provided you stay within resort boundaries. You don’t need to be accompanied by a guide.

Am I covered to be airlifted from the slopes if I am injured?

If you need to be airlifted off the mountainside to receive emergency medical treatment, we’ll cover the cost.

I'm on a ski trip and have suffered an injury - what am I covered for?

Firstly, if you haven’t already done so please call our Emergency Medical Assistance number on 020 8865 1640 and have your policy documentation to hand. Our multi-lingual team are open 24 hours a day and can help you locate treatment providers and liaise with medical staff. 


We provide Insurance cover for emergency medical treatment, including repatriation back to the UK if medically necessary.  If you were airlifted off the mountainside to receive treatment, this cost would be covered as well.


If the medical costs are under £500 and you have paid the medical bills yourself, please keep all medical receipts, medical reports and your holiday booking invoices, then register a claim with our claims team once you are back in the UK.  Click here to submit a claim online. 


If you’re unable to ski or snowboard following your injury, you may also be able to claim for the unused portion of your lift pass, hired ski equipment costs and ski school fees. Again, please keep all receipts and proof of costs.


If you cut your trip short due to an insured injury, you may also be able to claim under the Curtailment section of your policy for any unrecoverable transport and accommodation costs.

I need physio after my ski injury - Can Columbus help?

If you have a Columbus Gold policy (Single Trip or Annual Multi Trip), we will cover the cost up to the amount shown on your policy schedule, for physiotherapy once you are back in the UK for injuries that are the result of an insured accident. 

Am I covered if I injure someone whilst skiing?

Our policies include personal liability cover and, if you have included winter sports cover on your travel insurance policy, this includes protection in the event you cause an accidental injury to someone on the slopes.  Terms and conditions apply – for example, you wouldn’t be covered if it’s a member of your family who is taking action against you, or if the accident came about because of racing of any kind. 


If you’d like to know more, please check our policy wording under Section 13: Personal Liability, which is available here.

The pistes are closed and we can’t ski -can we get our money back?

If pistes in your resort are closed due to a lack of snow or adverse weather conditions, reimbursement is up to £20 a day on Gold policies – up to a maximum of £400.

The lifts are out of order so we can’t ski today, can I make a claim?

If the lifts aren’t running, it is the responsibility of the resort company to provide you with reimbursement for any unused lift passes.

Do I need winter sports cover for a trip to see the Northern Lights?

If you’re taking a trip to Finland, Norway, Iceland or further afield to see the northern lights, making sure you have winter sports cover on your policy is a good idea – so you can take full advantage of all the activities this type of holiday has to offer.  Not just for downhill skiing and snowboarding, our winter sports cover will insure you for cross country skiing, snowmobiling* and glacier walks, as well as over 20 other activities. 


We also cover over 150 sports and activities free of charge (no need to add extra winter sports cover) and some of them are activities you might be able to do while you’re waiting for the aurora borealis to make an appearance – such as husky and reindeer sledging, whale watching or taking a dip in thermal springs. Take a look at our policy wording for the full list. 


* No cover for Personal Liability or Personal Accident whilst participating.

Do we need winter sports cover for visiting Santa in Lapland?

It’s not needed unless you’re planning to take part in any sports or activities whilst you are there. We cover over 150 sports and activities free of charge so your policy will already include insurance cover for reindeer slight rides and husky sledding.

However, if you’re planning to do anything more adventurous, such as a snowmobile ride* or if the kids are tobogganing, then add our Winter Sports option to your policy to make sure you are covered for it.


* No cover for Personal Liability or Personal Accident whilst participating.

Where can I find travel tips for skiing and snowboarding?

A good place to start is the International Ski Federation’s FIS Rules of Conduct, which help everyone to stay safe on the slopes. They apply to everyone who uses the pistes, regardless of whether you are a skier or snowboarder.

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