Five Essential Pieces for Your Ski Safety Kit

If you are just a normal skier who sticks to the piste and doesn’t take too many risks, you may not think much about your safety when you’re on your annual ski holiday. Most regular skiers know what they are doing and accept the risks involved, but there are many easy ways to minimize these risks, many of which you are probably already doing without realizing!

Ski Gloves

Never underestimate the importance of good quality gloves when skiing. Not only do they do the obvious and keep your hands warm and frostbite free, but they are also vitally important in protecting your hands in other ways. They cushion your hands against the harsh ridges of icy snow when you fall and they also give some protection to your thumbs from getting caught in the ski pole strap, a very common ski injury. Breathable gloves prevent sweaty hands which, once cooled, remain damp and cold and can even freeze later in the day. Flexibility is important too so you don’t constantly have to take your gloves off, exposing your hands to the elements, as well as durability and most of all, make sure your gloves are waterproof.

Ski boots which fit properly

Ankle injuries used to occur much more frequently than they do these days, thanks mostly to advances in ski boot technology. It shows therefore, how important it is to wear ski boots that fit properly and hold your foot securely in position. Make sure your boots fit well but aren’t too tight that they cut off the circulation, or too loose that you can lift your whole foot off the bottom of the boot. Your toes should be able to move though, to ensure proper circulation. Most of all they need to be comfortable as there’s nothing worse than having to ski all day in painful boots. Most ankle injuries these days occur not from a badly fitting boot but either from a bad landing after a jump, or if your skis don’t clip off properly, which leads nicely to the next point…

Correct DIN setting

This is what your ski technician is fiddling about with on your ski binding when you get your skis fitted at the beginning of the week. It is calculated not only by your height, weight, boot size, and age, but also by your ability level and style of skiing. The higher the DIN number, the more securely your ski is attached to your boot and the more vigorous a fall will have to be for your ski to release. A beginner will have a fairly low DIN so that the ski releases even after a slow speed fall as they will not be practiced in how to fall safely. An experience skier will opt for a higher setting so that skis do not clip off when you are skiing rigorous terrain, or if you just fall in a controlled manner. Having the wrong DIN setting can be disastrous, particularly if set too high and your ski doesn’t come off when it should resulting in a nasty knee or pelvis injury. Similarly, a setting that’s too low can mean a ski can clip of mid turn sending you spinning. It’s therefore vitally important to get this right and is a key aspect to being safe on the slopes.

Ski Goggles

A decent pair of goggles allows you to see in all conditions, which as you can imagine, greatly reduces your chances of getting injured. Spending a little more money on your goggles usually pays dividends as they’ll be better quality, less likely to steam up, and probably come with changeable lenses for different light conditions. In a blizzard, being able to see as best you can within the conditions really will keep you safer than squinting through the snow with your sunnies on your head. In bright weather too, a proper pair of UV protection lenses will save your eyes from getting burnt, and will be hugely beneficial to your sight in the long run. Oddly enough, being able to see where you’re going often prevents crashes!


Whether or not to wear a helmet has divided the skiing community for years. Most would agree that children under 16 should all be encouraged to wear one, with many people calling for them to be made compulsory for young skiers and boarders. Some believe you become more reckless on the slopes when wearing a helmet because you inherently ‘feel safer’ wearing one. Using this as an excuse not to wear one is flawed however, as the figures show that in 188 skiing and snowboarding related deaths, 108 of these had head injury as the primary cause of death – if all of those had been wearing a helmet, this figure would be much lower.

Figures for helmet use are hard to come by as injuries that do not occur because the skier was wearing a helmet are obviously not recorded. One scientist, Brent Hagel, an assistant professor of epidemiology at the University of Calgary, has discovered that wearing a helmet out on the slopes may reduce the risk of head injury by as much as 29 to 56%, which is certainly a reason to wear one. In this day and age, when you see as many people on the slopes wearing them as not, so much so that it’s no longer un-cool to wear one, and when young adults, particularly in the park, often criticize each other for their stupidity in not wearing a helmet, there really is no reason not to. It could just save your life, or at the very least, save you from a horrible headache.

Ski safe!


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Annual Policy or Single Trip Coverage—Which is Better?

When searching for the best travel insurance policy, you should have a basic idea of your travel habits. This will allow you to choose the right policy. If, for example, you know that you’re hiking the Appalachian Trail in the summer and doing a winter ascent of Matterhorn, you should have an idea of what type of coverage you need for both trips. 

If you know you are going to travel several times within a year, an annual travel insurance policy, also known as a multi-trip policy, covers all your trips and can be far most cost-effective. They do, however, have a maximum duration per trip. This is not a substitute for health insurance. If you only plan to travel once in a year, you’re better off sticking with single-trip coverage. 

There are, however, a few additional considerations to make before making this decision. For example, insurance premiums are often based on the oldest traveler. When that individual turns 65, the premium spikes. Think carefully before opting for an annual policy for you or the family. If at least one of the travelers is 65 years old, a separate policy for the older traveler may be the best option. This will eliminate the possibility of everyone else paying a higher premium. However, you should still do the math for your specific policy and ask your insurance provider about age limitations. 

Similarly, the deductible is the amount of money you pay for expenses before your insurance plan stars to pay. The higher your deductible, the lower your premium will be. If a claim is needed, you will be paying much more. If no claim is needed, then your upfront premium cost is lower. If you take out a low deductible, then your premium will be higher, meaning your upfront cost is more but you will end up paying less if you have to make a claim.  

In order to find the right balance of deductible and excess, carefully review your trips. Is one more dangerous than the others? Do you have more experience in one type of travel and less in another? While you may feel confident in your ability to conduct one of your trips unscathed, feeling uncertain about new experiences is normal. If, however, there is an extremely wide gap in confidence, paying for single trip coverage—and opting for a lower deductible for the scarier trip—is a great strategy.  

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Not Checking Exclusions Could Be a $3,000 Mistake

As with other types of insurance, travel insurance policies will include a list of exclusions. These items are occasions in which the insurance will not cover you or personal losses. Most often, this will include severe weather conditions, natural disasters, volcano eruptions, terrorism, war, or civil uprising. While it is absolutely possible to find a travel insurance policy to cover these occasions, most of the inexpensive plans will not. 

Depending on your trip, it is important to choose a travel insurance policy with the fewest exclusions possible. Pay attention to these while reading through the policy, and ensure to declare any pre-existing medical conditions you may have. Failure to do so will nullify all coverage. Many policies will not cover certain pre-existing medical coverage, and you may have to purchase and add-on to include this. Talk to your insurance provider about the exclusions, and be sure to ask which plan they’d recommend for the trip you’re about to take.  

It is essential to remain vigilant in knowing the medical exclusions and conditions for your policies. You don’t want to get caught in a high-cost country and need to see a doctor—one visit could cost hundreds of dollars. Similarly, traveling to parts of the world experiencing conflict, while an incredible opportunity, will likely come at a huge cost. If your insurance doesn’t cover phenomena that may occur during civil unrest, you’ll have to purchase an add-on—and that can be expensive.  

Here’s the bottom line: Your travel insurance is not likely to cover every aspect of your trip, and that is to be expected. If you know that your destination comes with some type of threat—whether it be a volcano eruption or the threat of war—as your insurance provider about the added costs of coverage. If you go on vacation and realize that the catastrophic event happening is one of the exclusions, you could end up spending thousands of dollars to get out. 

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No, Travel Insurance is Not a Substitute for Health Insurance

Travel insurance has one goal: to keep you and your stuff safe from harm while out on an adventure. As we’ve discussed, there are several components to standard travel insurance: vacation cancellation, medical, evacuation, baggage, and flight. While most of us only utilize the last two options, hundreds of thousands of people around the world pay millions of dollars to add the emergency medical component to their policy.  

The medical portion of travel insurance is one of the trickiest to balance. Some policies offer lower and high medical expense options, which ultimately affect how much you pay. The higher prices are most often used for countries with high medical costs, such as the United States. That said, travel insurance is often far cheaper than a standard health insurance plan in one of these high-cost countries. Though used only for short periods of time, travel insurance can be hundreds of dollars cheaper than a U.S. healthcare plan. 

Travel insurance, however, is not intended to be a substitute for a health insurance policy in your home country. While there is a medical component in you travel insurance policy, it is only designed to cover sudden illness or accident—not preventative, rehabilitative, or diagnostic care. To that end, an individual can choose the level of coverage they purchase before a trip; some travel insurance plans won’t have the medical component.

While this is not necessarily a common practice among those who purchase travel insurance, you have to admit—the idea of paying significantly less for healthcare is pretty enticing. You’ll just wait for your symptoms to get bad enough to facilitate an emergency trip to the hospital, right? While this might seem like a clever scheme, it puts your health in extreme peril. Plus, few travel insurance providers will actually provide insurance for this reason.  

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Best Ski Travel Insurance Providers

We’ve argued for the benefits of skiing travel insurance—now it’s time to share our favorites. These four insurance providers cover a broad spectrum of ski- and snowboard-related activities, as well as other outdoor recreational pursuits.

World Nomads Travel Insurance; “Adventure Activities Level 3”

What does it cover? Snowboarding/Skiing via helicopter/snow cat, backcountry, outside of resort boundary, alpine ski touring with a guide, and on- or off-piste within resort boundaries.

Can you extend the policy while still away? Yes, as long as you haven’t made a claim on that policy.

Do I have to purchase the insurance while in my country of residence? No, you can purchase or extend coverage once you have left for your trip.



What does it cover? Backcountry snowboarding/skiing without a guide.

Where is it available? Australia.

Can you extend the policy while still away? No
Do I have to purchase the insurance while in my country of residence? Not necessarily, but it is only available for coverage in Australia.


Insure and Go Travel Insurance

What does it cover? Heli skiing, cat skiing, off-piste skiing with a professional guide, and snowmobiling.
Where is it available? England, Ireland, United States, France, and Australia.
Can you extend the policy while still away? It depends on your policy; some annual policies only include trips for up to 30 days in length.
Do I have to purchase insurance while in my country of residence? No.


Sports Cover Direct
What does it cover? Different levels cover different sports. Level 2 coverage includes: Off-piste snowboarding and off-piste skiing; Level 3 includes Level 2 and snowboard acrobatics, snowboard stunting, snowboarding parks with large jumps, ski jumping, ski racing, mountain climbing with ropes, mountain walking, and mountaineering.
Where is it available? United Kingdom, Ireland, and Channel Islands
Can you extend the policy while still away? Yes.

Do I have to purchase insurance while in my country of residence? Yes.

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What to Look for in Adventure Travel Insurance

Every plan differs in its provided benefits, coverage limits, covered reasons, and exclusions. If you are searching for ski- or backpack-related travel insurance, you should look for a few key benefits. Below, we have listed our top six benefits to look for when deciding on an insurance plan or coverage option.


Emergency medical benefits. This provide benefits for losses due to covered medical and dental emergencies that may occur during the trip. If you suffer an injury or hypothermia while skiing, emergency medical benefits can reimburse the cost of your medical care.


Emergency medical transportation benefits. This will provide medically necessary transportation to the nearest hospital or facility following a serious illness or injury experienced while traveling. If you suffer an accident while skiing, these benefits will pay to transport you to the nearest hospital.


Baggage loss/damage benefits. This can cover loss, damage, or theft of baggage and personal items. This is essential for those traveling with expensive ski and snow equipment, especially those traveling via airplane.


Trip delay benefits. These benefits can reimburse you for additional accommodation and travel expenses if you experience a departure delay of six or more hours. If you plan to fly home from Vail, this coverage will help you pay for a hotel and meals in the case of a flight-cancelling blizzard.


Baggage delay benefits. These benefits will reimburse you the additional purchase of essential items during the trip if baggage is delayed or misdirected by a common airline carrier for 24 hours or more.


24-Hour hotline assistance. This provides access to assistance teams to help with travel emergencies and last-minute questions about coverage. If your passport disappears while you are backpacking across the tundra, this team will help connect you to local embassy staff to get a replacement.

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Travel Insurance for Backcountry Exploration is Essential

If you have backcountry experience, you know that it is essential to prepare for the worst. Backcountry skiers spend much of their time thinking about avalanche safety, spending hundreds of dollars on the equipment necessary to stay safe in case of an emergency. You practice safety rescues and thoroughly research all terrain, checking daily avalanche reports whenever possible. However, complete backcountry trip preparation involves more than avalanche preparedness. It requires an added level of safety.


Avalanches are not the only threat to backcountry skiers. While out exploring, you may experience exhaustion, hypothermia, dehydration, bone fracture, concussions, falls, and falling rock. Unexpected weather could leave you stranded. Genuine emergencies in the backcountry require Search and Rescue assistance, medical facility use, and ambulance rides.


Of course, backcountry enthusiasts do what they can to stay safe. Most are adequately prepared in the event of an emergency, but it is impossible to predict when an accident will strike. To that end, it is difficult to be financially prepared for the outcome of a backcountry accident; ambulance and Search and Rescue fees alone are enough to shock a survivor. Injured skiers often need hospital transfers, and in the most remote locations, you may need a helicopter ambulance.


Rather than stressing out about the financial burden of a backcountry accident, you should invest in ski travel insurance. Injury is more likely to happen off-piste, so you must focus all of your attention on the terrain—not on your wallet. The only way to truly protect yourself is to invest in a travel insurance plan to meet your needs. Now, not all travel insurance policies cover backcountry skiers. When searching for a plan, explicitly ask providers if they cover backcountry exploration. Once you have a plan secured, you’ll be able to spend more energy on the trip itself.

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The Ultimate Ski Travel Insurance Resource Guide

This is where our specialty interests enter. Our organization is designed to inform travelers of the importance of travel insurance, but our primary goal is to help athletes—particularly skiers—make savvy trip and vacation choices. Travel insurance is especially important for those travelling with large, expensive pieces of equipment, as well as for trips relying entirely on the weather. Below, we have listed a few reasons why you should double-down on your ski trip before hitting the slopes.


Accidents happen, especially on the slopes. Though ski injuries have decreased by nearly 50% since the 1970s (chalk it up to better equipment and a more comprehensive ski education), accidents do happen. The thing about accidents: they’re completely unpredictable. Danger exists everywhere on the mountain, from chairlift boarding to that bratty kid bombing down the double diamond behind you. Ski travel insurance can save both you and your trip; if you experience an injury during your stay, you’ll be covered.


Your skis are expensive. You should protect them. Skiing equipment nearly always has to be checked in with the airline; it is too big to fit anywhere else but in the hold of the aircraft. This puts your equipment in the hands of people you don’t know. Airline coverage for lost, damaged, or destroyed bags is extremely limited, and they have cap on liability even if your gear is expensive. Moreover, if you are transporting rented skis, you will be liable for additional costs. Ski travel insurance protects your gear and your wallet. Planning to rent skis at the resort? You will likely be travelling with expensive cold weather apparel, so travel insurance is still a great investment.


When your trip relies entirely on weather, travel insurance is necessary. You can’t control the weather, but ski travel insurance will keep you from worrying about it. Whether the resort can’t make enough snow, warm weather turns everything to slush and grass, or a blizzard closes your local airport, most ski travel insurance policies will cover cancellations, interruptions, and delays. When you can’t rely on the perfect alignment of weather and dates, travel insurance will help you keep calm.


Ski trips are expensive. Insure your investment. The cost of lift tickets, ski rentals, airline tickets, and hotel rooms can add up to a hefty price tag. If you throw in a last-minute cancellation, you can lose a lot of money—sometimes thousands of dollars if you are planning a family or group trip. Moreover, trip costs are on the rise; ski resorts have seen large price increases, and a single day at a popular resort like Jackson Hole or Aspen will cost more than $100 per person.


Planning a ski trip without insurance is a massive financial risk. A good ski travel insurance policy will cover trip cancellations as well as travel interruptions and stolen or lost baggage. Travel insurance will help you in case of an emergency, but it will also let you relax a bit; after all, you’re on vacation.

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What to Know Before Buying Travel Insurance

Mid-trip is not the time to discover a surprise clause in your travel insurance. To avoid potential mishaps and opportunities to overpay, travelers should take certain steps before investing in an insurance plan. We have provided a brief checklist to make you feel more secure in your purchase.


[ ] Have you compared rates? We do not advise purchasing travel insurance from smaller vendors. Instead, check sites like InsureMyTrip, Travel Guard, and TripInsuranceStore to make sure you are getting the right price.


[ ] Have you asked your friends and family? If an acquaintance has had a good experience with a particular provider, ask them about it! This is the best way to feel confident about your investment.


[ ] Have you read the entire policy? This is the best way to prevent surprises. Be sure to comb through the inclusions on your plan to ensure you get the best package for your trip.


[ ] Have you booked your trip? The best way to get discounts and additional coverage is to purchase your insurance directly after booking.


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The Importance of Travel Insurance

Ultimately, the decision to purchase travel insurance is entirely personal. Most people don’t utilize the service, and if they do, it’s generally simple flight coverage. Don’t get us wrong—flight and baggage insurance are nearly essential for safe and secure travel. However, if you are travelling long distances for extended periods of time with expensive equipment, travel insurance is a great investment.


The most important role of travel insurance: It protects your investment. Travelling is expensive, and—whether you think it will or not—accidents are bound to occur. Sure, if you sprain your ankle while walking from the hotel to the pool, it might not be a bi deal. But what if your appendix bursts? What if your $2,000 flight is cancelled? What if your $1,000 pair of skis is lost in the airport?


Additionally, medical emergencies are nearly unforeseeable. If your trip involves any type of extreme sport, such as backpacking, skiing, or scuba diving, purchasing medical or evacuation insurance becomes essential. Reflect on the nature of your trip: Did you spend a lot of money on flights? Are you going to be very active, or do you plan to spend your time on the beach? These are the questions you must ask to determine if you want to purchase and how much insurance you might need.


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