More than 3.5 million Britons have failed to take out travel insurance to cover themselves for activities such as skiing and snowboarding, new Abta research reveals.
Member of the travel association reported more than 200 significant injuries involving British holidaymakers last winter, including collisions and falls on the slopes.
But these figures represent just those cases reported by Abta members and the association believes the total number of incidents could be much higher.
The injuries reported are also not exclusive to skiing, with a number of incidents resulting from other activities including snowboarding, bum boarding and tobogganing.
Those aged between 25 and 34 have, on average, suffered more winter sports injuries than any other age group, the study shows.
One in eight (12%) 25-34 year olds, who have been on a winter sports holiday, have travelled with someone who has had a major injury on the slopes, such as a broken bone or concussion, requiring hospital treatment.
A further 6% have had a major accident themselves.
Those aged 45-54 years are most likely to take out holiday cover, as more than half (51%) of the age group who have ever been on a winter sports trip say they always take out travel insurance, compared to just over a quarter (28%) of 18-24 year olds.
Abta has teamed up with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and The Ski Club of Great Britain to provide top tips, from pre-departure to après ski.
The association’s destinations and sustainability director Nikki White said: “Nearly a third of winter sports holidaymakers are heading out to the slopes without the appropriate travel insurance in place, putting themselves at risk of costly medical bills if they have an accident while abroad.
“It’s really important that people take out an insurance policy that covers them for all the activities they plan to do on holiday, as well as getting themselves ski-fit beforehand, so they can focus on having an enjoyable and safe trip.”
Julia Longbottom, director of consular services at the FCO, said: “We urge anyone heading to the slopes this winter to take the time to prepare ahead of your trip, so you can have a safe and enjoyable holiday.
The #skisafe information on the travel advice pages of gov.uk provides a handy checklist.
“It is particularly important to check you have adequate insurance for the activities you plan, and that you declare any pre-existing medical conditions.
“Should you need to be rescued from the slopes, hospitalised abroad, or flown home, you could face very expensive bills if you do not have the right insurance cover. The FCO cannot fund these costs for you. Check your cover and enjoy the peace of mind that you will get the support you need if anything goes wrong.”
Ski Club of Great Britain chief executive Ian Holt added: “To get maximum enjoyment out of your time on the slopes, it is important to physically prepare yourself. Getting ski-fit is the best way to prevent against injury whilst enhancing your experience of the mountains.
“Being safe on snow, especially off-piste, is essential and that is why we are building upon our well-established mountain safety programme this winter. Our specially-designed insurance product caters for all forms of mountain experience, ensuring full cover for almost all eventualities, to suit skiers of all levels.”
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