Off-piste ski insurance

As off-piste skiers we need ski travel insurance that will pay for rescue, medical and repatriation costs following an accident.  This is an essential part of being safe and having more fun when we go off-piste.  The costs of rescue, medical and repatriation can amount to £30000 to £50000.  An accident is bad enough without receiving a bill of this magnitude.

Worrying reports

Recently we started to pick up some worrying reports about ski travel insurance in relation to going off-piste.  We heard from the piste patrol in Val d’Isere about British insurance companies refusing to settle some claims.  Then we noticed a number of online forum discussions which were prompted by some off-piste skiers talking with insurance companies about the nature of off-piste ski insurance cover.  These forums suggested some alarming or vague statements.  Here is an example of a statement made in an email from an insurer

'Any avalanche warnings must be adhered to at all levels, therefore skiing in any level of avalanche warning could prejudice your claim’

This is at best unclear and at worst quite worrying.

A tragic event

The most tragic and concerning insurance story that we have been involved with relates to two boarders who died in an accident off the Grande Motte some years ago and the insurance company refused to pay for the rescue.  HAT tried to help but we were too late.  Read more click here>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>..

HAT investigation

This prompted HAT to investigate the nature of insurance cover available to off-piste skiers and boarders.  We asked our readers to send us reports of their experiences with insurance providers.

You can read these click here>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

You can read reports in other forums as well click here >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

At HAT our aim is to create helpful advice, rather than engage in the amusing sport of “insurance company bashing” and so we followed this up with our own research.  We have talked directly with managing directors and chief executives of the insurance providers.  We have pressed them to help us create clear guidance as to how off-piste skiers and boarders can know that their cover will work.  

To get this under way we started by asking some questions  to see what their reaction is.  Here are the questions.

  1. In what circumstances would the skiers behaviour in going off-piste be deemed reckless and therefore invalidate the insurance cover?
  2. Are there any specific rules of conduct that off-piste skiers are required to follow in order to ensure cover is in place?
  3. Is insurance not available for people skiing on closed runs?
  4. What kind of signs or statements from the authorities in relation to off-piste areas would constitute advice that means you would not be insured?
  5. If a skier has Carte Neige/Carre Neige  plus your insurance how should they proceed with a claim?  
  6. Are there any further caveats or issues that off-piste skiers should consider?

Insurance providers responses

We have had a whole range of responses.  These can be classified into 4 types

  1. A written statement of clarification
  2. An encouraging conversation with an expert who understands off-piste risks
  3. An unsatisfactory answer
  4. No reply at all

Following this research we have written an article

Practical advice for skiers looking to obtain effective travel insurance for off-piste skiing.  

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We would welcome comments on this page.  Or use the comment boxes below to share your experiences (good or bad) of insurance for off-piste skiers