Hundreds of thousands of skiers and snowboarders will set off without adequate cover this winter and be vulnerable to significant treatment costs if they have an accident, Abta warns today.

Almost a third (29%) of the one million people expected to take a ski or snowboarding holiday will do so without the right travel insurance putting themselves at risk of high medical bills if they get injured on the slopes.

The under 35s, the group most likely to take a winter sports holiday, are also the least likely to take out winter sports insurance with a third (32%) travelling without a policy, new research shows.

The age group is the least likely to take out insurance for any type of holiday and the Abta study shows that one in five (19%) of 16-24 year olds and almost a quarter (23%) of 25-34 year olds think travel insurance is unnecessary, as they assume the government will pay for their treatment if they fall ill overseas.

In addition, a quarter of 16-24 year olds and 23% 25-34 year olds say they do not need insurance in Europe when they have a European Health Insurance Card. But EHIC cards will not cover assistance on the slopes.

Findings of new research came as Abta and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office warned skiers and snowboarders about the dangers of travelling without adequate winter sports insurance.

The association has also issued a short new video reminding holidaymakers to take out ski insurance.

The research shows that 18% of people planning a winter holiday this year are considering a winter sports break, an increase from 10% in 2012.

Abta called on new skiers who may not be aware of the need to ensure they have the right cover to check policies carefully.

A number of lapsed skiers are also expected to return to the slopes this year. This group is urged to check that their insurance is up to date and that it includes winter sports cover.

Families taking trips to Lapland to meet Santa Claus are also being urged to check their travel insurance to ensure it covers typical activities such as reindeer sleigh rides, snowmobiling and ice fishing

Abta chief executive Mark Tanzer said: “As temperatures drop and people start planning for their winter holidays, we urge them to obtain adequate travel insurance as part of these preparations.

“Winter holidays often include activities that may not be covered by the usual travel insurance policies and holidaymakers should make sure that they are covered for everything they plan to do.”

Martin Redmond from the Foreign Office’s Know Before You Go team, added: “Whether you are an experienced skier or hitting the slopes for the first time, it is crucial to take out appropriate travel insurance.

“Those who don’t do so risk having to pay thousands of pounds in medical bills, so we urge British nationals going on a winter sports break to choose a policy that covers them for everything they want to do.

“The FCO provides support for British nationals that get into difficulties overseas. However, we cannot pay medical bills if you are hospitalised and we can’t arrange to fly you home. So do your research, get covered and read the small print to help ensure your winter sports break is one to remember for the right reasons.”