Does Travel Insurance Cover Risky Winter Sports?

February 21, 2014

Snowboarder going down a hillDo the Sochi Winter Olympics have you craving some adventure? Do you imagine yourself carving through powdery snow on a lush mountaintop, or perhaps hurling down a hill like you’re on the Canadian bobsled team? If your next vacation has winter sports in store then take a minute to review your travel insurance policy to ensure you’re covered for any potential risks before you hit the hill.

There are several different types of travel insurance available to protect you while you’re out trying to become the next Dominique Maltais. These include:

Emergency Medical Insurance

This would protect you for things such as ground ambulance services, x-rays, physician fees, and other fees associated with an unexpected injury. Many of things are standard in travel insurance policies, but winter sports may require additional coverage. Emergency medical insurance typically covers injuries sustained while participating in winter sports, but it’s important to ensure these are not excluded as some policies do not cover injuries sustained during specific activities such as playing sports. You may have to purchase a slightly more advanced package to make sure you’re covered.

Trip Interruption Insurance

Every travel insurance policy is different, which is why it’s important to look around and compare. Trip interruption insurance in particular could fly you back home if you’re injured during your trip. Look for this in your travel insurance policy. Other policies may allow you to fly a family member out should something happen. There are many options that come standard, and even more when purchasing a more advanced policy.

Read the Fine Print

You might think you have some protection from the sporting facility itself, but most have waivers you must sign before partaking in any activity. These waivers make you acknowledge that winter sports are a hazardous activity that could result in personal injury or damage. Lake Placid in New York is one such facility that offers bobsledding experiences under the Olympic Regional Development Authority. Their waiver explicitly removes all responsibility from the company and places it on you—the person undertaking the risk. Here is a sample of the waiver:

“I acknowledge that use of the Sports Facilities and Equipment is dangerous and I knowingly assume all risks of personal injury or damage I may suffer by using the Sports Facilities and equipment. I further acknowledge that since I am using the Sports Facilities at my own risk, the Olympic Regional Development Authority bears no responsibility of any nature for any personal injury, damage or loss to my person or property arising out of or resulting from my visit to the Sports Facilities and Equipment use.”

This is a pretty standard waiver, which means the onus is on you to ensure you have adequate protection before participating in any winter sports. These waivers would not impact your travel insurance policy benefits, they simply shift the responsibility from the facility to the participant.

Before going on your trip, you’re going to want to make sure you’re properly covered should anything unexpected happen. It’s important that you read your policy guide to ensure you understand the benefits and limitations of your plan, including anything that may be excluded. For example, your insurance policy might not specifically say “winter sports” in the policy, so it’s important to talk to your provider about your coverage options and restrictions.

While you might not be a Gold Medal-winning Olympian, that doesn’t mean you can’t adopt an Olympic attitude. As Mary Lou Retton, a 1984 gold, silver and bronze winning medalist in gymnastics, once said: “Each of us has a fire in our hearts for something. It’s our goal in life to find it and keep it lit.”

Embrace your adventurous spirit and try something new, just make sure you have protection if you’re trying this out while travelling. Compare travel insurance packages and policies to ensure you are getting the coverage you need at the best price. With the right insurance, everyone is a winner.