THE modest fee for daily insurance that will be offered to you when buying a ski pass is worth taking up because of the exorbitant costs associated with being rescued uninsured. These can easily rack up to hundreds of euros, if not €1,000 or more.
On the other hand, mainstream insurers say you may not need special insurance as the same guarantees may be included in other commonly-held policies.
Mountain rescue is free if it is in the haute montagne, that is above areas covered by ski lifts, and is done by gendarmes, CRS or pompiers. On the pistes and in off-piste areas where you can ski to and from lifts, rescue is by paid-for teams.
A national association for mountain rescue teams, ANMSM, states that the usual uninsured tariff for transport by helicopter is €72 per minute, while transport by land (ie. in an ambulance) is €469/30 minutes.
The basic insurance elements needed for skiing are responsabilité civile (third party) in the case where you accidentally harm someone else (eg. by crashing into them) plus cover for rescue. These are what you get, for example, with €3/day insurance offered with a pass at Isola 2000 in the Alpes- Maritimes.
Carré Neige for €2.80/day at Courcheval also includes repatriation and refunds of unused ski pass days and lessons. Extras like these, plus matters like top-up cover for hospitalisation are also typically included in other specialist ski insurance policies which cover you for a year or season, and may be useful for regular skiers.
The latter are offered, for example, by bodies like the Club de Sport, the Club Alpin Français, the Fédération Française de la Montagne et de l’Escalade and the Fédération Française de Ski. For example the Chamonix tourist office sells the Club de Sport’s Carte Neige, at €68, which they said covers you internationally.
One big insurer, Matmut, however insists all these policies are pointless for holders of its home insurance and multirisques accidents de la vie.
As a general rule ordinary home insurance (usually called multirisques habitation) will cover your responsabilité civile, says Guillaume Ignace of the Fédération Française des Sociétés d’Assurances.
As for rescue and hospitalisation, they may be covered by policies with names like garantie accidents de la vie (GAV) or assurance individuelle accidents.
You may like to talk to your usual insurer (or study your contracts) to see if your existing policies are suitable. If not, the insurer may suggest a “ski” extension during the holiday.
Premium credit cards like VISA Premier or Gold Mastercard also provide cover comparable to ski insurance policies if, for example, you pay for your ski pass with them. If you pay for equipment hire with them, such cards may also cover theft.
This may also be available via home insurance if it includes theft (often the case) and an option covering leisure equipment.
While you may double up, note that there are often ceilings involved in insurance and if you have more than one form you can combine these, though total claims should never go above real costs to yourself.