Between 50cm and 100cm of snow are expected in the Alps in the next few days – so the conditions for an early season snow trip are looking good.
With Christmas close you might be tempted to squeeze a little more out of your holiday money and head to the hills without winter sports holiday insurance.
Britain’s biggest ski magazine The Good Ski Guide has warned that accidents on the piste are increasing, especially among snowboarders while the most common accidents are collisions between skiers and boarders.
Christian Young, director of AA Travel Insurance added: "A fifth of Britons now enjoy winter sports each year and that means the pistes are becoming more crowded. Overcrowding is also tempting people to take risks – such as skiing off-piste, away from the throng, without a guide which obviously can be dangerous.
"But I’m most concerned that according to the Foreign & Commonwealth Office, up to a third are travelling without insurance that covers the sports they intend to take part in."
John Hill, editor of Good Ski Guide adds: "There has been a steady rise in the number of people choosing skiing and snowboarding holidays and although snowsports travel fell six per cent last year because of the weak pound and the economy, bookings this year seem as strong as ever. The upcoming 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver are encouraging people to take to the slopes although the recession could well reduce budgets and lead people to make cuts – such as choosing a less expensive resort or, worse, not bothering to insure themselves."
"Fortunately, most collisions result in little more than dented pride and a few bruises. But as Young points out: "The unpalatable reality is skiing and snowboarding brings a much higher than average risk of injury which, without proper cover, could result in a family facing bills amounting to thousands of pounds."
He estimated that there are more than 95,000 wrist injuries amongst snowboarders every year. Serious injuries can result in a claim of up to £15,000 if a helicopter and hospital fees are involved – and that’s not including potentially chartering a flight home if you can’t catch your planned flight because of your injuries.
AA Travel Insurance have some tips to help you stay safe on the mountain this winter:
1. Only attempt runs suitable for your ability
2. Take some lessons if you’re a beginner or need a refresher after a couple of years’ break
3. Pay attention to signs and markers on the slopes
4. Leave plenty of space when overtaking another skier or boarder
5. Only stop at the edge of the piste or where you can easily be seen
6. Ski/snowboard on the marked runs – these are protected from unexpected alpine dangers. Skiing or boarding off-piste may invalidate your travel insurance.
7. Ensure you and your party has a piste map and don’t stray from the main areas.
8. Don’t ski alone – there’s safety in numbers
9. Do some exercise and get fit before you go
10. ‘Après-ski’ is just that: avoid alcohol until you have finished skiing/snowboarding for the day!