Hazards of our Sport and the need for adequate Insurance Cover

The Officers and Committee of the Eagle Ski Club wish to remind members that ski touring, ski mountaineering and related activities contain, by their nature, a degree of hazard and risk, and despite the greatest care accidents may still occur

All participants in any Club activity should be aware of and accept the inherent risk associated with the activity, be responsible for their own actions and involvement, and ensure that they maintain adequate insurance cover for the activity being undertaken.

It is also worth participants considering how much additional insurance they would like in order to cover risks such as cancellation of travel arrangements and accommodation bookings. It is important to bear in mind that not all policies cover these risks in the same way and each policy should be checked to ensure that it provides the cover required. This has been a particular problem with cancellations due to the COVID-19 outbreak, which some policies covered and others did not. EACH PARTICIPANT MUST CHECK THEIR OWN INSURANCE TO ENSURE THAT IT IS ADEQUATE FOR THEIR NEEDS.

Combined Liability Insurance for all Club Members

The Club has Combined Liability Insurance Cover through its affiliation with Mountaineering Scotland. This provides public liability cover for all members who are UK residents while taking part in Club, general mountaineering and ski mountaineering activities. This excludes piste skiing except in the context of a ski tour. However, all members also require their own peronal accident, rescue and medical insurance.

There are a number of exclusions to the Club's Combined Liability Insurance, most importantly:

  • Downhill piste skiing and lift access off piste skiing is not covered. Therefore Members should consider arranging third party liability cover through their personal travel insurance, or  schemes which may be offered with the purchase of a lift pass. In all cases Members are advised to check the levels of cover offered.
  • Non UK residents are not covered.  In order to take part in Club activities, non-UK resident members must arrange third party libaility cover of at least £2,000,000. Such insurance may be available through personal insurance arrangments or membership of the national alpine club of the members country of residence. In all cases non-UK resident members should check the details of their 3rd party liability cover.
  • Claims brought in North American Courts:  the coverage is global, but specifically excludes claims brought in North American Courts.

The full policy of the Club's Combined Liability Insurance and the ESC Affilliation and Insurance Position paper (December 2019) is attached below. Further information is available from the Mountaineering Scotland website:

European Health Insurance Card (EHIC)

Currently, an EHIC gives British citizens access to state  healthcare in other nations in the European Economic Area (including Switzerland) at a reduced  cost or in some cases free, depending on the country. Each individual traveller is required to have their own EHIC card. To get a card you need to apply online, delivery is usually with a period of three weeks from time of application.

The UK Government and the EU have reached agreement in principle post Brexit European health cover for UK nationals, meaning that in theory these arrangements will continue until 31 December 2020. This has the potential to change as negotiations between the UK and EU progress, so Members are advised to check the situation and ensure that they have suitable arrangments in place before they travel.

Personal and Other Insurance

All Members taking part in Club meets involving ski touring or any off-piste activity are required to have adequate personal cover to pay the cost of “getting them off the mountain”, by helicopter where necessary. Members are also strongly urged to have additional cover to pay for possibly extended local hospitalisation and/or repatriation. Such cover should extend to all medical emergencies and not just accidents.

Given that levels of cover provided by policies vary, members are advised to read policies carefully to check exactly what activities are covered, what search and rescue costs are covered and that levels of cover provided are deemed to be adequate. It is the Member’s responsibility to ensure that their insurance provides cover for all the intended activities.

Non-UK Resident Members are not covered under the Club's Combined Liability Insurance which is secured through the Club's affiliation to Mountaineering Scotland. Therefore, they will need to make individual arrangements for third party liability cover, should they wish to participate in the Club's activities. The level of cover carried should be at least £2,000,000.

Matters to take into consideration in selecting an insurance policy:

The policy/policies needed will depend very much on  personal circumstances, existing cover, age and activities foreseen. Some otherwise good policies become uncompetitive for members who have passed 60. Some annual policies can be a bargain if you get away a lot and climb etc in the summer too. Many policies have specific exclusions or limitations, for example in terms of geography or altitude. 

What is absolutely essential from a ski mountaineering and touring point of view is that adequate cover is in place to get a Member off the mountain (i.e. helicopter rescue) and provide urgent medical support. For example membership of the Austrian Alpine Club UK (which also gives you reciprocal rights in most Alpine Huts) includes this sort of basic cover without age restrictions, but medical costs covered are limited to 10,000 Euros (July 2020) and there are geographical exclusions, including areas north of the Artic Circle. Members are strongly advised to read the small print of policies, and to study exclusions to the cover provided with particular care and attention.

It goes without saying that cover for areas outside Europe, particularly North America, will need to be very significantly higher. You might also consider obtaining cover against loss of a deposit or other non-refundable payments for a Tour from which you had to withdraw late because of injury on a previous trip, for example.

Insurers you may wish to consider might include the British Mountaineering Council (BMC), Snowcard,  and Protectivity.