Slips and slides on the slopes more common and costly than you think

Article date: 2 December 2013

  • Almost one in seven people never take out the necessary insurance cover for winter sports but 64% admit they would not be able to pay for treatment themselves
  • 46% of those surveyed have been involved in an accident or near miss, with 76% needing medical treatment that they claimed for on insurance

As Brits embark on winter breaks to snowier climes this season, Aviva’s research* shows that that almost one in seven (15%) winter sports-goers don’t take out the appropriate insurance cover for winter sports such as skiing, snowboarding or tobogganing. This despite almost half (46%) of snow-lovers admitting to being involved in an accident or a near miss whilst on holiday, resulting in three quarters (76%) of them needing emergency medical treatment paid for by their insurance.

Almost half (43%) of those surveyed who didn’t buy winter sports insurance said it was because they didn’t think they would ever need it, with 36% wrongly believing that they don’t need insurance if they have an European Health Insurance Card (EHIC)** and 11% forgetting to buy it. Yet when asked if they could afford to pay for any medical treatment themselves, without insurance, 64% of the respondents admitted they couldn’t.

The research from Aviva, the UK’s largest insurer, showed that many winter sports fans are unaware of the actual cost of receiving medical treatment abroad for winter sports related injuries.

When asked what they could afford to pay if they needed emergency medical treatment (and didn’t have insurance) the average amount respondents said they could afford was £492 but in fact the average winter sports claim last year was £740 – a difference of £247!

Heather Smith, director of Aviva general insurance, said: “We never like to think about the worst case scenario, especially when going on holiday, but when it comes to winter sports this can be a costly error.

“Even if you consider yourself to be a competent skier remember that mishaps can happen to anyone and the cost of even a minor accident can run to hundreds of pounds.

“It is worth taking the time to make sure you have the right insurance when you book up your winter holiday. It could save a lot of worry and inconvenience should your holiday somehow go off-piste.”

Treatment for extreme injuries, such as a damaged spinal cord, can be very costly. In one actual claim the cost of emergency medical treatment was £31,000.

Given a range of costs to choose from for actual winter sports injury claims the survey revealed that the costs were grossly underestimated for serious injuries– in the case of one specific injury by up to £12,000.

Table of actual claims costs versus what survey respondents thought they would be:

Actual winter sports injuries

Average expected cost***

Actual cost of the claim

Difference in average expected vs. actual cost

Spinal cord damage




Knee damage




Dislocated ankle




Fracture or brake around the knee




For more information on Aviva’s travel insurance go to

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Methodology and research methods:

*Based on research commissioned by Aviva 15-20 November, 2013 in One Poll survey of 1,000 adults who go on winter sports holidays

**The EHIC card entitles you to: state-provided emergency medical treatment in EEA countries.  However, the level of state-provided emergency medical treatment will vary between countries and it may not cover all the treatment costs and services that are free through the NHS.

For example, the following ARE covered by a typical travel insurance policy but NOT by the EHIC:

  • Rescue services (eg from mountain in ski resort)
  • Additional accommodation and travel costs if you need treatment or need to get back to the UK
  • Accommodation you have lost through being hospitalised
  • Repatriation back to the UK
  • Support and advice through 24 hour helplines with multi-lingual staff

*** based on average of banded price options where respondents were asked to estimate the cost of some of Aviva’s actual claims for medical treatment

- Ends -

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Notes to editors:

Aviva provides insurance, savings and investment products to 34 million customers worldwide.

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