As first-time snow-sporters head to the slopes preparation is the priority over protection

Article date: 13 November 2012

A quarter of snow-sporters (skiers and snowboarders) heading to the slopes this year will be on their first ever winter sports holiday but for many it seems the emphasis is on physical preparation rather than on protection, as more than 6 in 10 first-timers plan to carry out some additional exercise¹ before their holiday but only 4 in 10 of them have winter sports travel insurance, according to research by Aviva, the UK’s largest insurer.

However, for those purchasing insurance it seems experience brings insight because the better snow-sporters become on the slopes the more likely they are to have travel insurance – of those with cover 45% consider themselves beginners, 62% intermediate and 70% expert.

Despite the planning that respondents put into preparing for their winter sports holiday – whether they are first timers or regulars on the slopes - 37% of the total snow-sporters surveyed have not arranged their winter sports insurance. Of those without it a quarter admitted they have no plans to take any insurance out before their holiday and 17% are undecided on whether to buy it or not.

In order to make the most of the time on the slopes many winter sports enthusiasts recommend preparing for the physical challenge that goes with winter sports by carrying out some exercise ahead of any trip.  Skiers and snowboarders could find they will be spending around 6 hours² on the slopes each day so preparation beforehand should help minimise the risk of injury, reduce fatigue and improve strength and balance.

Of the total respondents 64% are planning on carrying out some additional exercise prior to their holiday, with those aged 46 plus are most likely to do so (72%) and those aged 18-25 least likely (56%).

The availability of dry or artificial slopes in the UK provides greater opportunities to practice and for the majority (89%) of those who have used them this year 38% will do so a few times prior to the holiday, 15% once a month and 6% once a week.

Simon Warsop, director of business development at Aviva, said: “Winter sports can be physically demanding so planning on getting your body in shape before you go is great advice. It will help reduce the risk of injuries but will also mean you arrive at the slopes with the strength and stamina to get the most out of your holiday from day one – particularly important if you are planning a short break.

“First-timers in particular may not appreciate how crowded the slopes can get where collisions and falls can all too often happen. Treatment for medical emergencies remains the key reason for making an insurance claim so it really is important to have the right insurance policy with you, too.

“In fact, the average medical claim for winter 2011-12 was £1410 but the cost of adding winter sports cover to your standard Aviva travel policy could be as little as £6 or £7*.

“Remember the EHIC card will not provide the same levels of cover that insurance does and would not cover a rescue from a mountain top or repatriation home if you needed it. So whilst you are busy honing your skills on the dry slope or upping your cardiovascular training in the gym it makes sense to pack a winter sports travel policy in your bag.”

To help new snow-sporters keep safe on the slopes they may appreciate the following top ten tips and advice as recommended by the Federation of International Ski³:

  1. Respect others – don’t endanger other people on the slope
  2. Control your speed – adapt your speed to match your ability and the slope conditions
  3. Choose your route – adapt your line so that you don’t endanger people further down the slope
  4. Be careful when overtaking – overtake to the left or right, but always leave enough room for the person you’re overtaking to continue their line
  5. Snowboarding – always make sure the board is tethered to your front leg and always check the slope before making a turn
  6. Stopping – always stop at the side of the slope, avoid stopping in narrow areas or places with restricted visibility
  7. Signs – all signs and markings are there to keep you safe, so make sure you obey them
  8. Accidents – if you see an accident, inform the emergency services, offer help, identify yourself to the emergency service and the people involved in the accident
  9. Starting and entering – check up and down the hill when you start, enter or cross a slope
  10. Climbing – always keep to one side


Media contact:

If you are a journalist and would like further information, please contact:

Sally Richards : Aviva Press Office T: +44 (0) 1603 684225 M: +44 (0) 7789 270677

Notes to editors:

*Winter sports optional extra cover:
Annual Travel
Based on a 25 year old, single traveller going to Europe it would cost approximately £6.67 to add winter sports cover.

Single Trip
Based on a 25 year old, single traveller going to Europe for 8 days and buying the policy approximately 1 month before departure it would cost approximately £5.21 to add winter sports cover.

¹ Research based on 500 holidaymakers planning a winter sports holiday in 2012-13. Research carried out 12th October 2012 by ICM

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