Best travel insurance for backcountry skiing?
I have just gone through the rather painful process of looking at numerous travel insurance companies to find the best winter sports travel insurance for heli skiing and backcountry snowboarding. That was A LOT of fine print I read.
Most travel insurance policies offer a winter sports option but the majority of policies will only cover you for skiing on piste. Some cover you for off-piste skiing with a qualified guide (check that small print), which means you can’t just go do your thing with your friends.
Here are a few great options for winter sports travel insurance for heli-skiing or backcountry that I recommend you look into.
World Nomads Travel Insurance – available for most countries of residence including USA & Canada
I ended up going with these guys as all the sports I plan on doing were listed under their ‘Adventure Activities’ option at Level 3. This covers me for:
- Snowboarding (by helicopter/snow cat)
- Snowboarding (backcountry/outside of resort boundary/alpine ski touring – with a guide)
- Snowboarding (on piste or off piste within resort boundaries)
They were really good on price also. They were also really helpful when I contacted them to ask them questions like:
- Am I qualified to go backcountry alone or without a qualified guide?
- The answer is No, you need to accompanied by a qualified guide (even if you yourself are a qualified guide).
- Can I extend my policy for longer while I am still away?
- The answer is yes, as long as I haven’t made a claim on that particular policy
- Do I have to purchase the insurance while I am in my country of residence?
- The answer is no, you can purchase or extend the insurance once you have left for your trip
So go for World Nomads travel insurance for backcountry snowboarding, heliskiing or general rad adventure activities – I recommend them.
InSure4Less – available for Australian citizens or residents of Australia
These guys appear to be the only travel insurance company that offers insurance for backcountry skiing or snowboarding, ski touring etc WITHOUT a qualified guide. This means you are covered if you want to go ski tour with your friends one day, go on a hut trip, or a multi-day traverse.
Here’s what they say:
At Insure4Less we are proud to provide cheap travel insurance options for off piste activities, so that no matter how high a thrill you’re seeking, you’ll be looked after if something goes wrong.
It’s absolutely critical however, that you always take steps to ensure your safety when snowboarding or skiing off piste. Going with a fully qualified local guide is highly recommended, but at the very least, you should go with a competent traveling companion and make sure a third party knows where you plan to be on that particular day. You should never ski or snowboard off piste alone.
It does not, however, cover you for off-piste backcountry skiing in North America or Canada.
So I recommend Insure4Less if you are looking for backcountry travel insurance without a guide.
Insure and Go Travel Insurance – available for English, Irish, U.S, French and Australian residents
I had an annual policy with these guys last year. Their standard winter sports travel insurance option covers you for:
- Heli skiing
- Cat skiing
- Off piste skiing (with a professional snowsport instructor/guide only)
- and other fun stuff like snowmobiling
I found them to be really good on price, even this year when I went back to get a quote off them for my 6 month long trip (my annual policy with them was only for trips up to 30 days in length – GRRRR!).
Unfortunately, last winter they were a bit tricky to deal with when I got hurt in Japan. While they did eventually re-inburse me for all my costs (including the hours I spent on the phone trying to get hold of them), I believe they were quite strategic in when they would decide to call me back… It was in their interests to delay confirmation for the treatment (physio) I needed, as they knew I was to fly home shortly (I blew my MCL riding into a tree and needed physio). They did however end up flying me back to Australia in Business Class as it was recommended for my leg to be straight due to an increased risk of deep vein thrombosis (DVT).
Other friends I have spoken to have had good experiences with them so maybe I was just unlucky.
Sports Cover Direct – Only available for UK, Ireland and Channel Island residents
These guys look REALLY good if you are a British resident. Unlike most other insurance providers, these guys cover you if you want to compete (unless they state in their policy that your chosen policy is “Non Competitive” or “Excluding Competition”. They can also insure whole sporting teams.
Their levels of insurance is grouped, so for any type of winter sports activity it looks like you need level 2 or above. Heli skiing currently falls into the group 4 level of sports insurance along with flying sports that are notoriously hard to get insured for (paramotoring anyone?).
If you obtain a higher level of insurance, you are covered for sports listed in lower groups such as:
- Off piste snowboarding – covered in level 2
- Off-piste skiing (not alone/contrary local advice) – covered in level 2
- Snowboard acrobatics – covered in level 3
- Snowboard stunting – covered in level 3
- Snowboarding snow parks with jumps of 1m or more – covered in level 3
- Snow mobiling – no liability
- Ski jumping – covered in level 3
- Ski racing – covered in level 3
- Mountain climbing (with ropes and/or guides) – covered in level 3
- Mountain Walking- up to 7000m (with exception of Kilimanjaro) – covered in level 3
- Mountaineering (with ropes and/or guides) – covered in level 3
Definitely worth checking out Sports Cover Direct if you are an eligible British resident. Being a sports travel insurance specialist, they have a HUGE list of sports that are not covered by other standard travel insurance policies.
SAFE TRAVELS PEOPLE – let me know in the comments section if you recommend any other winter sports travel insurance for heli skiing or backcountry and I will check them out and add them to this article :-)