British skiers and snowboarders are skiing or boarding drunk, too fast, without taking lessons from professionals, and without checking they are properly covered by travel insurance according to research from Santander Insurance.
Santander is urging skiers and boarders to take adequate precautions on the slopes, as its findings reveal that one in five (20 per cent) skiers and boarders have had an accident that required professional medical treatment, but one in seven (14 per cent) of those going away either don't have travel insurance or bother to check whether they are covered for winter sports accidents. Of those who have been skiing or snowboarding in the past five years, more than half (54 per cent) have been skiing or snowboarding without wearing a helmet, one in four (23 per cent) has been skiing while still under the influence of alcohol from the night before, and 17 per cent while under the influence from lunchtime drinking.
Skiers or snowboarders who take to the slopes while under the influence of alcohol or without wearing a helmet may find they are not covered for any accidents, so it is essential that people read their insurance policies closely. One in four (23 per cent) admits to having skied or boarded much faster than they should for their level of ability and having attempted to negotiate a piste that was too difficult for their level of skill. A further 23 per cent admit to hitting the slopes without taking any lessons from a professional. The research also reveals 17 per cent of skiers and boarders admit to have attempted to ski or snowboard having only ever played a ski or snowboard game on a games console such as a Nintendo Wii.
Santander's findings reveal that one in five skiers and snowboarders (20 per cent) has had an accident on the slopes that required professional medical treatment. Among those who have had an accident, the most common cause is skiing or boarding while under the influence of alcohol either from the night before or lunchtime drinking (31 per cent). One in seven accidents (14 per cent) was due to people being off-piste, and the same percentage because they were skiing or boarding too fast for their ability. The most common injuries suffered were knee injuries, experienced by 18 per cent of all those who have had an accident, ligament or tendon damage in the wrist or arm (10 per cent), broken wrist (9 per cent), and broken arm (8 per cent), broken leg or ankle (8 per cent), or head injury (8 per cent).
Fears for the uninsured
Santander, which offers winter sports cover as an option in its travel insurance policies, says that according to its claims data, medical expenses claims account for over 62 per cent of all snowsports claims received. And although most people check to see if their insurance covers them for snowsports accidents, one in 10 (9 per cent) people who have been skiing or snowboarding in the past five years didn't check to make sure their travel insurance covered them for snowsports accidents, and a further five per cent didn't even have travel insurance. Santander estimates that there are around 212,000 skiers and snowboarders in the UK who have required professional medical treatment for an injury suffered but haven't been able to claim on a travel insurance policy because they weren't covered. Treating ski injuries can be extremely costly, with air ambulances potentially costing £5,000 to £10,000 in Europe and around £30,000 in North America.
Repatriation to the UK with a stretcher costs around £3,350 to £3,700 from Europe, and anywhere between £2,000 and £5,000 from North America. Moyra O'Doherty, Group Marketing Manager for Santander Insurance, said: "People can get a little over-excited when they are on skiing and snowboarding holidays, and while they should of course enjoy themselves, it is very easy to forget how easy and potentially costly it is to get injured on the mountain. "Travel insurance is an absolute must-have for anyone going on a winter sports holiday. While many people may want to cut costs on their ski holiday, we would urge them not to cut back on winter sports travel insurance. Ignoring this is a false economy if you have an accident, and no-one in their right mind wants to start the New Year with a huge medical bill."
The information contained in our press releases is intended solely for journalists and should not be used by consumers to make financial decisions. Notes to Editors
 Opinium Research carried on behalf of Santander amongst over 9,000 adults of whom over 750 were skiers or snowboarders 14 - 18 March 2011  Analysis of ski claims data 2006-2011  Ski Club of Great Britain data
International Private Medical Insurance Magazine: Travel Insurance News, Private Medical Insurance, Health Insurance News 'Ski-rresponsible' Brits Risk their Bodies and Finances on the Slopes, iPMI Magazine Travel Insurance News
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