A third (33%) of skiiers and snowboarders fail to check whether they have taken out the right insurance for the activities they are going to do, research published today reveals.

Those most likely to travel without the appropriate cover were aged over 55, with almost half (46%) admitting that they never check that they are covered for winter sports. This is significantly above the general average of 33%.

There have been 58 British deaths and 118 people taken to hospital from skiing and snowboarding holidays reported to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in European resorts in the last four years, with thousands more suffering injuries both on and off-piste.

The FCO has teamed up once again with Abta and former British winter Olympian Graham Bell to increase awareness of the importance of being prepared from before departure to après ski.

FCO head of consular communications Michael Vibert said: “As the ski season gets under way, we want to ensure that everyone is adequately prepared for their winter sports holiday.

“The research from Abta suggests that not enough British nationals are checking they have taken out appropriate insurance before they travel.

“We want to emphasise the importance of taking responsibility and preparing for your trip so you can #SkiSafe this winter and enjoy your time on the slopes.”

Abta chief executive Mark Tanzer said: “People heading off to the slopes this winter should make sure they are covered by the appropriate travel insurance.

“Winter sports holidays often include activities that may not be covered by the usual insurance policies, so we would advise holidaymakers to check that they are covered for everything they plan to do.

“Unfortunately, accidents can happen and can lead to costly medical bills, but having appropriate insurance means people can rest assured that they are adequately covered and can make the most of their time on the slopes.”

Five-time Olympian Graham Bell added: “It’s fantastic to see so many Brits heading off each winter to take part in the sport I love. There’s a wide range of resorts to choose from across Europe and North America, and it’s great to see so many of my compatriots getting involved.

“Most of the time, nobody will run into any trouble, but to ensure a safe and enjoyable trip, it’s important to stay vigilant on your winter sports break.

“There have been 58 British deaths in the last four years relating to skiing and snowboarding holidays, and many more injuries and hospitalisations, and so being prepared is key.

“But far from wanting to discourage people from going away this year, I just want to make sure that everyone is taking the necessary precautions to make their trip as fun as possible.”

He issued top tips for some of the main things to take note of both on and off the slopes:

• Make sure your insurance policy covers all of the winter sports activities that you are planning to do and remember to take your free European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) along with you, for necessary treatment at public hospitals in Europe.
• Get fit for the slopes by doing ski-specific exercises that work the quads, glutes, and core. Try to include balance and co-ordination into your work-out.
• If you’re a first time skier, make sure you pick a resort that is suitable and will help you to progress. Look for lots of blue runs, and a beginners’ area close to town.
• Use the right equipment including a properly fitting helmet
• When you’re on the slopes make sure you are using appropriate safety equipment, and familiarise yourself with the International Ski Federation guidelines so that you don’t put yourself at risk of a collision.
• Don’t forget the sunscreen. You can burn in the mountains even in the middle of winter because of the reflection from the snow.
• Make sure you’ve got appropriate footwear for use off the slopes, or get yourself a pair of rubber snow grips to put over your shoes.
• Keep in mind that alcohol and winter sports don’t mix. The effects of alcohol are multiplied at altitude, so save it for the après-ski.
• If you’re heading out in the evening, make sure to stick together with friends and family. Temperatures can drop dramatically at night, so you don’t want to end up getting lost.