Uninsured skiers face mountainous medical bills through weak pound

Skiers and snowboarders who plan to skip travel insurance to cut costs could be leaving themselves open to colossal hospital bills if they have an accident on the slopes this year, with overseas medical expenses rocketing as a result of Sterling’s slump in value.

According to Post Office Travel Insurance data, medical expenses are three-quarters of ski holiday insurance claim costs. Yet one in four people are considering going on holiday this year without travel insurance in order to save money.

Post Office Travel Services, a partner of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) ‘Know Before You Go’ campaign, is urging people to minimize risk by preparing properly for their skiing trip. Rachel Croft says, “Paying out for medical costs with no insurance has never been cheap, but the weaker pound means that the relative cost of hospital treatment abroad can be potentially much higher. Medical costs in popular eurozone ski destinations such as France, Italy and Austria could be around 18 per cent higher than this time last year. And skiers going to Aspen or Vail in US are looking at a massive 29 per cent hike.”

Typical costs of an air ambulance to the UK:

  • France £8,000
  • Italy £12,000
  • Austria £10,000
  • USA £50,000

Steve Jewitt-Fleet of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office’s ‘Know Before You Go’ campaign says, “The risks involved in winter sports holidays mean it is essential that slope-lovers are properly prepared before travelling. The most important thing is to take out travel insurance and to read the small print of your policy, so you know what you are covered for. If you are not properly insured and have a serious accident, you or your family could be left picking up a huge medical bill.”

The European Health Insurance Card (EHIC), which offers free or reduced cost medical treatment in EU countries, is not a substitute for travel insurance, and will not cover costs such as mountain rescue or medical repatriation.

  • A 50-year-old woman from Manchester suffered fractured leg bones and required repatriation from Val d'Isere with extra seats and a nurse escort. Estimated cost of claim: £4,000.
  • A 48-year-old woman from Ayrshire suffered leg injuries while skiing and had to be repatriated by stretcher from Munich. Estimated cost of claim: £10,500.
  • An 18-year-old man dislocated his hip and was repatriated from the Pyrenees to Humberside by stretcher for hospital admission. Estimated cost of claim: £10,000.
  • A 21-year-old man suffered a fractured leg and was repatriated by stretcher from Turin to Manchester for hospital admission. Estimated cost of claim: £9,000.
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Uninsured skiers face mountainous medical bills through weak pound
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