As people become more aware of the dangers of head injuries, in Switzerland for example, it is already mandatory that anybody taking part in ski lessons wears a ski helmet, so interest in good quality insurance should move up the priority list. Snowboarding alone creates approximately 100,000 wrist fractures a year and knee ligament injuries are the most common problem with both skiers and snowboarders on the slopes. The risk of injury also increases when avalanches are factored in. Although relatively uncommon in relation to sporting injuries, they are still prevalent, and so it is recommended that those partaking in winter sports familiarise themselves with basic avalanche survival training before getting onto the slopes.
Winter sports injuries are not only limited to amateurs. The International Ski Federation which works with professional sports men and women closely monitors the number of injuries to try and limit the time spent off-piste. According to their figures, 30 out of 100 athletes sustain injuries each year - the main ones being problems with knee ligaments followed by head injuries. Most of the national ski associations are calling for helmets to be made compulsory for skiers and snowboarders, so as awareness is raised, this may be an increasingly common sight on the ski slopes this winter.
Due to the usually remote areas in which skiing and snowboarding take place, it is important that people have the best possible healthcare when participating in winter sports. It is often the case, particularly with head injuries, that hospital admission is needed, and so the quicker you can get off the slopes the better. This will often include an airlift by helicopter.
Many travel insurance policies do not include winter sports in their breakdown of cover, and if it is included, it is often very basic in its offer. Where travel insurance cover stops and longer term international private health insurance cover starts is also an area which confuses many, especially those living and working abroad. Indeed, some overseas private health insurance providers often do not always provide cover for winter sports, or if they offer the option, they will add a higher premium loading. For expatriates, it is therefore highly advisable to speak to a specialist international insurance broker who can check the detail of individual policies to make sure they cover your anticipated requirement whilst holidaying abroad, in case you need medical help on the slopes. Medibroker is a UK regulated international health insurance broker which has been operating in this field for nearly 15 years.
Commenting on the need to stay safe whilst participating in winter sports, Steve Nelson, International Sales Manager said: “The welfare of our clients is always paramount. As a broker, we would always advise people to wear appropriate safety equipment and to familiarise themselves with basic survival training if they were unfortunate enough to be trapped in an avalanche. Good international healthcare insurance is a must, as transport to the hospital should be as quick as possible, with access to the best possible healthcare. The extremely high number of injuries which take place show that damage limitation is the best possible approach before you set off on your winter break.”