With the winter season approaching, agents’ knowledge of insurance will be put to the test as clients head to the slopes for ski and snowboarding holidays.

Insurers class skiing and snowboarding as extreme sports for which specialist cover is required, and agents need to ensure they have accurately matched the insurance policy to the client.

When selling a ski holiday, check whether your customer is planning to ski off-piste, as some policies will cover this only on marked routes with a guide. Others exclude off-piste skiing altogether.

If clients are going scuba diving, bear in mind that some insurers only provide cover for dives of up to 30 metres. If your client is planning to do some parascending, they might only be covered for landing on water.

Journeys Travel Insurance managing director Patrick Chong warned that agents who sell holidaymakers insurance with insufficient levels of cover could be liable under Financial Services Authority regulations.

“It is essential that agents ask appropriate questions to establish the right cover for their clients,” he said.

“Holidaymakers don’t always plan to take part in hazardous sports. Agents should be aware of what’s available in resorts and point out that if clients do get involved in any of them, they won’t be insured.”

Preferential Travel Insurance associate director Max Hensser said: “We strongly suggest to agents that the key pages of the policy, including the hazardous pursuits section, are physically shown to the customer during the sales process.”

Citybond Suretravel sales director Iain Chalmers pointed out that some sports, such as abseiling and bungee jumping, are included in some insurance policies but agents need to read the small print as there are many exclusions. For example, Citybond’s ABTASure policy is not valid if the sport is the main purpose of the trip.

A spokesman for the Association of British Insurers said: “Agents need to be careful when selling insurance because standard policies generally don’t cover hazardous sports.”


Citybond Suretravel ABTASure

Cover: Ninety sports and recreational activities, from abseiling to zorbing, are automatically covered for occasional participation.

Where activities are the main purpose of the trip, additional premiums are charged according to the duration, destination, experience and age of the participant: scuba diving and zorbing attract a 20% increase, jet skiing and white-water rafting 40%.

Exclusions: Personal liability and, in some cases, personal accident cover.

Premium: Fourteen days Europe, £16.


Preferential Travel Insurance Value

Cover: Many sports including canoeing, clay-pigeon shooting, dinghy sailing, mountain biking, kayaking, parascending over water, jet-skiing, horse riding and hot-air ballooning.

Riskier pursuits such as winter sports, surfing, scuba diving down to 30 metres and trekking at altitude attract a 50% increase in premiums.

Premium is doubled to cover more extreme sports, such as abseiling, parachuting, parascending over land and skydiving. For more hazardous sports, such as rock climbing and hang-gliding, the premium is increased 200% of the standard rate.

Exclusions: Personal liability cover.

Standard premium: Eight days Europe, £7.50; 15 days Europe, £9.33; eight days worldwide, £14.91; 15 days worldwide, £18.58; annual Europe, £29.98; annual worldwide, £38.08.


Europ Assistance standard policy

Cover: Soft-adventure sports including cycling, trekking up to 2,000 metres, scuba diving to 30 metres, windsurfing and yachting. Riskier pursuits such as canoeing and white-water rafting are also included, but without personal accident and personal liability cover.

Policies can be extended, for an additional premium, to cover extreme sports and there is optional winter sports cover, which includes off-piste skiing on recognised and authorised slopes only, but excludes bobsleighing, heli-skiing, ski jumping, ski racing and other more hazardous activities.

Exclusions: Personal liability and personal accident cover for some pursuits.

Premium: Seven days Europe, £15.39, with winter sports, £30.78; 14 days Europe, £19.28, with winter sports, £38.56; seven days worldwide, £28.78, with winter sports, £77.56; 14 days worldwide, £45, with winter sports £90; annual Europe, £58.38, with winter sports, £69.10; annual worldwide, £109, with winter sports, £128.78.


Journeys Travel Insurance standard policy

Cover: Soft adventure sports including abseiling, kayaking, clay pigeon shooting, dinghy sailing and mountain biking.

For more hazardous activities, such as American football, bungee jumping, cannoning and fell running, premiums are increased by 25% and the excess is increased from £100 to £250. Premiums are doubled for winter sports.

Exclusions: Personal liability and/or personal accident cover is not included for some activities.

Premium: Seven days Europe, £5.72, with winter sports from £14.30; 14 days Europe, £8.80, with winter sports from £22; US/Canada seven days, £17.04, with winter sports from £42.66; US/Canada annual from £30.56.


Gosure.com winter sports

Cover: Skiing and snowboarding, including off-piste in designated areas and heli-skiing with a guide.

Exclusions: Back-country skiing or snowboarding outside the official ski area designated by piste maps and which may necessitate use of specialist equipment.

Premium: 10 days Europe, £18.29; annual Europe, £37.67; 10 days worldwide, £45.43; annual worldwide £69.57.